Each Monday, I continue to share Western movie reviews as I go through the process of making my own 12 Westerns in 12 Months during 2020. I am watching these films not from an audience perspective but as a filmmaker, as a student of the genre.


Week Seventy Six: Davy Crockett and the River Pirates

It has been more than twenty years since I saw Fess Parker as Davy Crockett in Disney’s other compilation of episodes, King of the Wild Frontier. I remember it to be a stronger piece than this one but who knows how I’d feel about it upon review.

I watched this one because it portrays some of the same characters I’m about to feature in my next movie, including the boisterous Mike Fink and the notorious bandit leader Samuel Mason. It took me by surprise how much screen time each of these characters have in the light-hearted adventure, Fink taking up most of the narrative and Mason serving as the main antagonist. The Harpe Brothers, also central characters in our upcoming movies, are here too but so different from most historical descriptions that I did not recognize their presence until Mason announces, “The Harpes are back!” more than halfway through the film. That this fun but silly movie is probably the most focused and famous portrayal of all these fascinating figures ever made, I am even more inspired to tell a serious, dark version.

The movie itself is entertaining enough but always kept me thinking about to that Hawks quote, “There’s action only if there’s danger.” Well, there’s lot of fighting here. But no action.

Seen on Disney Plus.