Those Calloways

Movie review by
Tom Cassidy, Common Sense Media
Those Calloways Movie Poster Image
Dull hunter story has animal cruelty and outdated terms.
  • PG
  • 1965
  • 131 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Mixed messages surround the idea of an animal trapper wanting to start a sanctuary for migrating geese. Examples of animal cruelty throughout the movie.

Positive Role Models

The Calloway family are hunters who want to start a goose sanctuary. Cam Calloway loses the family home after keeping a land purchase secret from his wife. Bucky is shown as honorable but fights and is aggressive with a young woman. A Native American character is played by a white actor. The female characters are given little in terms of storyline, restricted to the roles of wives and girlfriends. Outdated cultural terms.


Numerous prolonged fist fights involving punches to the face, bloody wounds, and in one instance, someone being knocked unconscious. These fights are seen by the townsfolk as necessary to resolve conflict. A character is shot with a shotgun. A character grabs someone's arm and forcibly kisses them. Hunting is a key theme: characters hunt with rifles and shotguns, and real-life footage of geese being shot dead is shown, as well as a wolverine being killed. A character kills a wolverine with an axe. Weasels and a wolverine are tied up and made to fight a dog. A trained bear is repeatedly hit with a broom. A wildcat is chained to a chair and shown in distress. A dog is thrown into a frozen lake. A field is burned in an arson attack.


Some kissing.


Outdated cultural terminology -- "Indians" regularly used for Native Americans. Character calls white people "respectable folk" in comparison to Native Americans.


Characters try various schemes in order to raise money. The buying and selling of land is central to the storyline.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters drink cider and whiskey at Christmas gathering. A character gets drunk and angry after two stressful situations, waking up outside after one session.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Those Calloways is a 1965 live-action Disney movie based on Paul Annixter's book, Swiftwater, with dated attitudes to Native Americans and scenes involving animal cruelty. Set in 1920s New England, the story is a long, slow tale about a family of trappers, headed up by Cam Calloway (Brian Keith), who dreams of starting a goose sanctuary. The movie features violence toward people and animals. Fist fights are shown as the only way to resolve conflict with characters repeatedly punching each other in the face, drawing blood, and in one instance, resulting in a man being knocked unconscious. A character is shot with a shotgun and is shown receiving a blood transfusion. Bucky Calloway (Brandon De Wilde) is physically aggressive toward a young woman before forcibly kissing her. There is regular footage of animals being killed or in distress. This includes animals being forced to fight each other, animals being chained up and repeatedly hit, and even a dog being thrown into a frozen lake. There is also real-life footage of geese being shot dead and a distressed wolverine being shot out of a tree. Characters drink socially. After receiving bad news, Cam gets drunk and aggressive. A character calls white people "respectable folk" in comparison to Native Americans, who are referred to throughout as "Indians."

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What's the story?

In THOSE CALLOWAYS, trapper Cam Calloway (Brian Keith) dreams of starting a goose sanctuary. But his fellow townsfolk instead want to capitalize on the town's hunting potential.

Is it any good?

This is a long, boring slog, punctuated with real-life acts of animal cruelty. Running at a tedious pace, it's stuffy attempts at comedy would have felt dated even when Those Calloways was first released in 1965. The only interesting thing about this cruel movie is it's a great example of the tired, aimless state that Hollywood filmmaking had collapsed into just before the young pioneers of the American New Wave came in at the middle of the 60s and shook it up with fresh, dynamic movies. 

The story preaches a message of caring for nature. But the characters and filmmakers take the notion of compassion, string it up, and set the dogs on it -- forcing us to watch every miserable step of the way. With so little to offer, the scenes of animal cruelty are even more painful to watch and make for a wholly bleak experience. This is one "classic" Disney tale that's best filed under "better left forgotten."

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the animal cruelty in Those Calloways. How did those scenes make you feel? How has the way we treat animals changed since the making of this movie?

  • Talk about how Native Americans are portrayed in this film. How does this reflect the culture of the time in which the film was made, and how does this contrast with how Native Americans are depicted in later films?

  • Discuss the role of the female characters. Would you have liked to have seen them given more to say and do? What movies can you think of with strong female role models?

  • Bucky uses his fists to resolve some of his conflicts. How might communication have been a better way of doing so? Why is communication such a good character strength to have?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love animals

Themes & Topics

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