A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Perseverance, dreaming big, courage, value of friendship, loyalty are all prominent themes. One character tells the children, "Learning will set you free."
Positive Role Models
Miss Paxton stands out as strong and independent -- a feminist of her time. Davie and Thad are brave, determined, show great loyalty. Several characters are deceitful but either see the error of their ways or get their comeuppance. Ku Klux Klan are depicted. Some racial stereotyping: Black character is referred to as "the Black," Native Americans as being mysterious. Some sexist behavior, with female characters being patronized.
Violence & Scariness
Guns are present throughout. Several gunfights, but none show graphic injury details. Character shot and killed while fleeing; no blood shown. A child fires a gun. Mild threat throughout as villains pursue, threaten main characters. Fistfighting includes an adult character hitting a child. One scene shows White character about to be hung from a tree by a group of Ku Klux Klan members but is then rescued. Group is scared away when they have flaming bottles thrown at them in a slapstick fashion -- though their clothes catch fire. Some action takes place in spooky burial ground. A dramatic thunderstorm provides some scares.
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A Black character is called "the Black."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
One scene with a character drinking from a brandy bottle.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Treasure of Matecumbe is a Disney adventure movie based on a 1961 novel, A Journey to Matecumbe, by Robert Lewis Taylor. There is a degree of threat throughout as main character Davie (Johnny Doran) and his friends are pursued by aggressive baddies. There are several gunfights -- including one death and a child firing a gun -- in the style of Western movies, but none show graphic injuries. Set in 1869, it includes some dated social concepts: A Black character is referred to as "the Black" while Native American characters are portrayed as mysterious and "otherly." The Ku Klux Klan try to hang a White man but are scared off when flaming bottles are thrown at them. There is some sexism in the form of patronizing behavior toward women, but the main female character, Miss Paxton (Joan Hackett), is feisty and self-assured. A creepy sacred burial ground and a dramatic thunderstorm scene might be scary to younger viewers. But there are positive themes of perseverance, courage, and friendship, and all is redeemed with the classic happy ending. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
A classic family adventure with mystery and peril at every turn, this movie is enjoyable if rather dated. The two boys embarking on this exciting treasure hunt are plucky and likable, but it's their adult friends who stand out. Peter Ustinov as the traveling medicine man is as charming a con artist as you're ever likely to meet, while Joan Hackett's feisty Miss Paxton blows hot and cold as we work out whether she's friend or foe.
Treasure of Matecumbe touches upon issues that may require further conversation with younger viewers: the appearance of the Ku Klux Klan and the portrayal of and reference to certain ethnic groups. Kids will also notice the absence of CGI and modern green-screen technology (spot the same log floating off into the distance in several of the Mississippi River scenes) and will probably find the out-of-place stock wildlife footage hilarious. But among the old-school technology is a fun action-adventure with comedy, drama, and plenty of heart.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.