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  Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier Remember The Alamo
Year: 1954
Director: Norman Foster
Stars: Fess Parker, Buddy Ebsen, William Bakewell, Basil Ruysdael, Pat Hogan, Mike Mazurki, Hans Conried, Don Megowan, Helene Stanley, Kenneth Tobey, Campbell Brown, Jeff Thompson, Nick Cravat
Genre: Western, HistoricalBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: General Andrew Jackson (Basil Ruysdael) is wrestling with the problem of the Native Americans, and their attempts to fight back against his army in Tennessee, and not only that but his best scout, Davy Crockett (Fess Parker) has gone missing. He calls Major Norton (William Bakewell) to his tent to inquire about Crockett's whereabouts, and is told that he has gone hunting to top up the soldiers' dwindling rations. The General isn't happy about this at all, and demands that the Major seek him out and bring him back, which he does after a fashion. When the Major spies Crockett's right hand man George Russel (Buddy Ebsen) at the river side, he knows where to look, but Crockett has been trying to bring down a bear by grinning at it and when he is interrupted he has to kill it in the more traditional manner. At least they have something to eat now, as the Indians are closing in...

It may be fair to say that the cult for this film comprises mostly of gentlemen of a certain age who enjoyed it back when they were kids in the fifties, because in that period it was nothing short of a sensation. Originally a three part series of fifty minutes each from Walt Disney, it amassed huge viewing figures, and was then re-edited into the hour and a half feature verison, where it and its sequel cleaned up at the box office, both in the United States and abroad. The kids of the day had a new hero as the film brought Crockett out of the past and into the public consciousness, and sales of coonskin caps, just as Davy wore, went through the roof, as did records of the theme song which plays throughout the proceedings. Watching it now, it's easy to see what was so appealing as Crockett is an uncomplicated hero who says what he means and means what he says, and isn't above using force when necessary - always on the side of right, of course.

The story is episodic by its nature, being three half hour tales condensed into one, but Parker with his aw shucks, good humoured nature and adaptability to whatever situation he is in, whether it be in the wilderness or in Congress, is ideally cast. The first half hour is concerned with taming the Indians, or the "Redskins" as they are called here, and in particular one chief, Red Stick (Pat Hogan), who is leading a group of men who refuse to agree to a truce. Naturally, all it takes for him to see sense is a tomahawk fight with Crockett (grinning doesn't work on him), and soon the exploits of the scout have made him a celebrity across the land. Next, Crockett turns to politics, and sees that he can easily be distracted by his new found fame when the future of the country is in the balance. After that, the inevitable, and he arrives at the Alamo, and we all know what happened there. The film may not capture the imagination as much nowadays, but it is handsomely presented, with the scenery looking especially attractive, and unpretentious thrills are amply provided. Probably more of a nostalgia piece now, Davy Crockett filled a need for fine, upstanding American heroes in its day, no matter what the reality may have been.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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