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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
If there is anything educational to be found in The Man From Button Willow, it's a message of patriotism illustrated by main character Justin Eagle's actions as a cowboy/hero.
The Man From Button Willow espouses positive messages about loyalty, bravery, and patriotism. But modern viewers will also recognize stereotypes and ethnocentrism in line with the pre-Civil Rights era in which the movie was made.
Positive Role Models
Justin Eagle is a kind, trustworthy hero whose first and foremost loyalty is to his country. Other characters are played broadly, using stereotypes to define their personalities.
Violence & Scariness
Some light peril and a few scenes of cartoony violence. In one scene, a saber toothed tiger stalks, threatens, and attacks a colt, ending in standoff with the colt's mother that sends the tiger to its presumed death off a cliff. In a final scene, a ship-wide brawl has every man fending for himself brandishing any weapon available, from ax to wood plank to barrel. Lesser scenes show a man shooting up a playing card for target practice in full view of a young child.
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Characters don't swear but use euphemistic swear-like language, such as "What in the Sam Hill is that?" References to minorities or the marginalized -- orphans, "Injuns," and the womenfolk are all politically incorrect relics of the time.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
One scene takes place in a saloon with alcohol consumed, run by a cigar-smoking hothead.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Man from Button Willow is a 1965 animated adventure set in the 1800s, and it plays to broad stereotypes and fantasies about cowboys, Native Americans, cowards, heroic men, gentle women, and rescued orphans, all underscored by an overwhelmingly romantic, not to mention ethnocentric view of America's rugged individualism and superiority on the world stage. But it fills the rest of its time with lots of Bambi-like subplots of life in the forest, featuring animal play, nature, and simple platitudes about America that are fairly innocuous by comparison. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This is an amusing nostalgia kick for fans of Westerns, cowboys, or that haze of the good-old-days in American history, where it didn't matter if they got the actual history right. THE MAN FROM BUTTON WILLOW does what it clearly aimed to achieve in 1965: romanticize cowboys, gloss over landgrabbing in 1800s-era America, and send a message about America's dominance, superiority, and the importance of fighting for freedom. In spite of that high-octane to-do list, it drags more than you would expect, and spends an inordinate amount of time exploring a Disney-styled cast of animals frolicking and surviving in nature before it gets down to business.
Kids, though, may enjoy that romp in the forest. Parents will wonder how a rugged cowboy is raising an orphan while he constantly jaunts off on heroic rescues, nevermind that this orphan calls him "Justin-san" even though she is Chinese. And don't bother asking why Eastern-tinged music needs to play every time she appears.
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