Treasure Island (Walt Disney; RKO Radio) is Walt Disney's first movie made with live actors only. For a generation of small fry brought up on comic books, its Technicolor is gaudy enough to bring Robert Louis Stevenson's classic to life. For adults, the film will prompt sentimental memories of their first encounter with cached doubloons and double-crossing buccaneersand perhaps make them wonder a little that they could ever have taken it so seriously.
The picture was shot in England (so that Producer Disney could use some of his own impounded treasure), but the story still takes place in the never-never land of young boys' heads. It is played so broadly by British actors in stock-company style that even the youngest fan can follow the adventures of the cast's only U.S. actor, Bobby (The Window) Driscoll, as Cabin Boy Jim Hawkins.*
It also offers the fun of watching an eye-rolling, lip-twitching Robert Newton as he wallows outrageously through the role of Long John Silver, one of fiction's most ingratiating scoundrels. Disney apparently liked him well enough to let him steal the whole treasure (as well as the picture), instead of the single sack of coins that Stevenson let him get away with.
The Men (Stanley Kramer; United Artists) ranks with the handful of extraordinary movies that do credit not only to their makers but to Hollywood. In an industry that lives by the box office, the film is remarkable, first of all, for tackling a touchy subject: the salvage of war-wounded paraplegics, men hopelessly paralyzed from the waist down. More remarkable, the subject has been handled with frankness, taste and dramatic skill. The result is realistic, unsentimental and emotionally powerful.
Producer Stanley (Champion, Home of the Brave) Kramer's film is especially notable for avoiding the slick solution and the easy out. It is not a picture in which faith-healers or master surgeons, in the last reel, make cripples walk again. Its basic theme is couragecourage in the face of utter hopelessness. It eloquently shows that cripples cannot get along with the world or themselvesand neither, for that matter, can normal peopleunless they face reality and come to terms with it.
Based on research in a California veterans' hospital, Carl Foreman's script follows the daily life of a hospital for paraplegics: the routine, the physical trials, the mental scars. Much of it is bitter, engrossing stuff. Yet, as the paralyzed veterans fling barbed wisecracks at one another and their attendants, or cynically make light of their own condition, some of it is startlingly funny.
The picture focuses sharply on a wise, fanatically conscientious doctor (Everett Sloane) and three patients: a well-educated cynic (Jack Webb), a horseplaying loafer (Richard Erdman) who enjoys his invalidism at Government expense, and a good-natured Mexican-American (Arthur Jurado)* who is trying to win his release so he can get a house for his mother and his six brothers and sisters. But the brunt of the story and its theme is carried by a sullen, embittered patient (Marlon Brando) and the girl (Teresa Wright) who wants to go through with the marriage they planned before the war.