Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media
Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier Movie Poster Image
Legend of famous hero has outdated cultural references.
  • PG
  • 1955
  • 93 minutes

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

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We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Meant to entertain rather than educate.

Positive Messages

Decency and doing the right thing are important. Native Americans, though referred to here as "Injuns" and "redskins," are good people to be treated with respect.

Positive Role Models & Representations

In addition to being likable, unpretentious, and direct, Davy is honest, hardworking, and loyal. He is smart and careful, and he won't put up with foolishness. He knows when to joke and when to be serious. Davy won't kill anyone just for the sake of killing.

Violence & Scariness

White men kill Native Americans in the battle to take Native lands away and give it to white settlers. Bad guys frighten law-abiding townsfolk until Davy gets the bad guys arrested. Many men die by knife, bayonet, gunshot, and cannon wounds. Hand-to-hand combat is shown without much blood. Native Americans attack with arrows, tomahawks, and knives. Men stab each other with knives and bayonets. The Alamo battle scenes show soldiers climbing the Alamo walls, then, at the top, being stabbed and thrown down by the waiting Americans. A white man is captured by Native Americans, tied up, and threatened with execution until Crockett intervenes to achieve a peaceful solution with the local tribe. It's reported that a man's wife has died.

Sexy Stuff

A man kisses his wife.

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults use tobacco.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier is a 1955 Disney Western featuring the legendary hero of Alamo fame as portrayed by Fess Parker.  Disney+ warns the movie is presented "as originally created. It may contain outdated cultural depictions." This is a nod to Disney's awareness of biases depicted in its library of work created 60 years ago. But although Native Americans are called "redskins" and "Injuns" here, and generally portrayed as inferior to white people in some sense, Crockett speaks admiringly of his foes in the "Indian" wars and advocates strongly for living peacefully with Native American neighbors as per peace treaties. He also fights President Andrew Jackson's eventual betrayal of those treaties in a manner that seems ahead of its time. By today's standards, the violence depicted is mild, but people are shot by guns, cannons, and arrows, stabbed with knives and bayonets, pummeled with bludgeons, and attacked with tomahawks. Little blood is shown and Crockett makes a point of not killing unless absolutely necessary. Adults use tobacco.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byCommon_Sense_Dad July 24, 2020

Stands the test of time

Terrific movie. A great way to introduce children to the harshness of frontier life, the injustice suffered by Indians, and the bravery of Davy Crockett, in a... Continue reading

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What's the story?

DAVY CROCKETT, KING OF THE WILD FRONTIER is a rambling narrative that follows real-life Tennessee frontier hero Crockett (Fess Parker) as he volunteers with the army to use his scouting and hunting skills to help track and conquer "Injuns" who are still fighting white settlers despite peace treaties. Crockett says he has no beef with the "redskins." He just wants to live in peace with them, as long as both sides abide by the treaty. He does his best to broker peace with a hold-out chief, but not until the two engage in hand-to-hand combat. Later, as a congressman in Washington, Crockett denounces President Andrew Jackson's reversal of the peace policy with Native Americans, a government-sanctioned push to destroy the Native American culture in the name of American expansionism. Crockett's adventures with his friend George Russell (Buddy Ebsen) take them both to Texas, where American settlers vainly try to fight off the Mexican army in a battle for control of then-Mexican Texas, which would later become the Republic of Texas and finally an American state. History tells us Crockett died with scores of other men at the fort, but the movie deliberately suggests a happy ending, before Crockett dies, implying he survived. 

Is it any good?

This movie presents a lovable, courageous, smart, and charming hero, which makes this movie surprisingly watchable despite biases common to the 1950s. Crockett was, in fact, one of the most famous men in 19th century America and he did it all, from hunting and fighting to legislating in Congress to defending the Alamo. Disney had resurrected the rugged frontiersman for a short-lived TV series and after that offered Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier and its sequel, Davy Crockett and the River Pirates of 1956, all of which ignited a passion for coonskin hats among children of the day. Today, young kids who like horses and the outdoors may find much to enjoy here, and the film could provide a great introduction to a discussion of the way the federal government historically mistreated Native Americans. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the way that pioneers and frontier settlers are portrayed. Does Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier give a sense of how difficult it must have been for courageous people to start lives in the wilderness? Would it be possible to do this today?

  • What are some of the character strengths that Davy Crockett displays? Does he seem brave? Does he seem wise? Does he seem appealing? What are some things you like or don't like about him?

  • Davy says when he follows his gut about doing the right thing, he sometimes has to do the difficult thing. What are some difficult things he does in the movie? What are some difficult things you've had to do?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love westerns and adventure

Character Strengths

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