REPOST: I decided I needed a break this afternoon and cruised YouTube for some Halloween oriented stuff that has fallen in public domain. And much to my surprise I found an property by Disney.
Which means that Disney hasn’t issued a copyright strike yet because there is no way in hell the House of Mouse lets anything fall into public domain.
You would have to be either a bleeding edge Gen-Xer or tail end Boomer to remember this one.
Now, I absolutely loved this show when I was a very little kid. So when I came across it in my random YouTube surfing I was…worried. Let’s face it most of the stuff I loved as a little kid, hasn’t stood the test of time. Errol Flynn’s Robin Hood. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Star Trek. These were all titles that were much better in memory than when I saw them in later life. Still there have been exceptions to that rule.
So, I decided to give it a watch and I have to say…it’s not as bad a Star Trek. I have to give it that. In truth I did enjoy Scarecrow but I know perfectly well it’s mostly nostalgia on my part.
Now if you liked it as kid too, feel free to stick around.
Disney released it on DVD ten years ago and apparently it sold out overnight. There are people trying to get chumps to shell out five hundred bucks for a “used” copy. I’ll stick with YouTube in this case.
There are a lot more fans of the show in the UK which is pretty understandable as it is a very English story, taking place in the marshlands of Kent in late 1700s. It’s the story of a gang of local men who have turned to smuggling releive the burdon of their taxes and they are lead by mysterious man dressed as a scarecrow with a hideous visage and a terrifying witch’s cackle.
Although it turns out that he Scarecrow’s secret identity is that of the soft spoken vicar Doctor Christoper Syn.
It’s interesting in that Doctor Syn was precursor of the modern iteration of Batman.
Yes, I know Batman was around in the 1960s but he was more this:
The original Dr. Syn novels, written from 1915 to 1945, were loosely based on the exploits of actual 18th century smugglers known as the Hawkhurst Gang. Author Thorndike was born in Kent in 1884 and grew up with tales of these smugglers who haunted the murky marshes. The writer was also an actor and, in fact, portrayed Dr. Syn in a 1925 London stage adaptation. The eighth book, Christopher Syn, was published in 1960 (with American scribe William Buchanan as co-author), and was the volume on which Disney based his 1964 screen version of the story. Thorndike visited the Scarecrow set during filming. The author happily reported, “I’m absolutely delighted with the treatment in the Disney production.” Part of the cleverness of the Thorndike creation—brilliantly realized in the Disney production—was that, unlike Robin Hood or Zorro, this seemingly creepy crusader was made a fearful figure, conceived to horrify the corrupt officials he battles.
Into this very British story, Walt shrewdly incorporated an American character sought by the King’s soldiers as a traitor for advancing the American colonies’ defiance of the crown. In the character of John Banks, Walt also showcased a boy sidekick for the Scarecrow, riding in the darkness with his own disguise, the bird-like hellion known as Curlew; young John Banks was an identification figure for Walt’s audience members, especially the youngsters. John is played by Sean Scully, a Disney discovery who had scored in his own dual role in the 1962 Wonderful World of Color production of “The Prince and the Pauper.”
As for the main character, Dr. Syn has an intriguing dual nature. “Dr. Syn was a kindly sort of fellow,” noted Patrick McGoohan, who portrays the vicar-turned-vigilante, “but with a will of steel, and I always saw the Scarecrow as his other persona. So neither one was dominant, they each were compatible with the other.”
The action scenes are dated. And the story arcs are very much a product of the pulps that produced it. But if you can remember being a little boy having the hairs on the back of your neck stand up when you first heard the Scarecrow’s unearthly cackle as he road across the marshlands, then yeah, it’s still for you.
Cataline Recommends With Reservations…and only if you have fond memories of it in the first place.