Treasure Island (1934): Victor Fleming’s Adventure, Starring Wallace Beery and Jackie Cooper

Victor Fleming directed Treasure Island, an adventure starring Wallace Beery, Jackie Cooper, Lionel Barrymore, Lewis Stone, and Nigel Bruce.

It is an adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1883 novel of the same name.

The Premise:

Jim Hawkins discovers a treasure map and travels on a sailing ship to a remote island, but pirates led by Long John Silver threaten to grab the honest seafarers’ riches.

Treasure Island
Poster - Treasure Island (1934) 02.jpg

Theatrical poster

Young Jim Hawkins (Jackie Cooper) and his mother (Dorothy Peterson) run the Admiral Benbow, a tavern near Bristol. One stormy night, during a birthday celebration, mysterious Billy Bones (Lionel Barrymore) arrives and drunkenly talks about treasure.

Bones is then visited by Black Dog (Charles McNaughton), and Pew (William V. Mong), drops dead, leaving a chest, which presumably contained gold and jewels. Instead of money, Jim finds a map that his friend Dr. Livesey (Otto Kruger) hoped would lead them to the famous Flint treasure.

Squire Trelawney (Nigel Bruce) raises money for a voyage to the treasure island and they set sail on Captain Alexander Smollett’s (Lewis Stone) ship Hispaniola. Also on board is the one-legged Long John Silver (Wallace Beery) and his cronies.

During the voyage, several fatal “accidents” happen to sailors who disapprove of Silver and his cohorts.

In the end, Jim frees Silver and, as he sails away, Silver promises to hunt treasure with him again as Honest John Silver.

The characters and events provide symbolism of good and evil.

Beery originally was cast as Israel Hands in Maurice Tourneur’s silent “Treasure Island” for Paramount in 1920, but he was replaced by Joseph Singleton; Beery later appeared in Tourneur’s silent masterpiece “The Last of the Mohicans.”

The film’s box office performance was disappointing, though it was MGM’s third biggest film of the season with rentals of $2,264,000.

 

Cast
Wallace Beery as Long John Silver
Jackie Cooper as Jim Hawkins
Lionel Barrymore as Billy Bones
Otto Kruger as Doctor Livesey
Lewis Stone as Captain Smollett
Nigel Bruce as Squire Trelawney
Charles “Chic” Sale as Ben Gunn
William V. Mong as Pew
Charles McNaughton as Black Dog
Dorothy Peterson as Mrs. Hawkins
Vernon Downing as Inn Boy
As Pirates of the Spanish Main:
Douglass Dumbrille (Israel Hands)
Edmund Breese (Job Anderson)