In the 70s when I was four or five, my parents gave my kid brother a bath towel with a picture of Elton John. I got a towel with an old movie poster for Treasure Island, depicting Long John Silver and young Jim Hawkins with a parrot. A few years later I read the book and learned what it was all about.
The towels are still at my mom’s summer house. Out of curiosity I eventually looked the movie up and found that it’s from 1934, directed by Victor Fleming (1889-1949). And now I’ve finally watched it. The towel is older now than the movie was when I got the towel!
I haven’t seen many 1930s movies, and I neither loved nor hated this one. It certainly has spirited acting and lavish sets. One odd difference from the novel is that while only about 1/3 of the book is spent in Bristol before the treasure expedition sets sail, almost 1/2 of the movie goes by before it reaches this point. The visuals are extremely reminiscent of the 1970 film about Pippi Longstocking in the South Seas, so I guess now I know where the Swedish team picked all that up.
Reading about the cast and crew I find that Victor Fleming was a huge deal, going on to direct Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz shortly after this film. Child actor Jackie Cooper (1922-2011), who plays Jim Hawkins, transitioned successfully into a lifelong Hollywood career, with his last acting credit in 1990. I’ve actually seen some of his work without any inkling that he was the boy on my towel: he plays Clark Kent’s newspaper boss in Superman I-IV, and he’s in The Twilight Zone, Columbo and Kojak.