Treasure Island (lost Lon Chaney film based on novel; 1920)

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An advertisement for the film.

Status: Lost

Treasure Island was a silent adventure film that was released on April 4th, 1920 (though Lon Chaney's website states it was released on March 26th) by Paramount, at the time called Paramount-Artcraft. It was based on the 1883 adventure novel of the same name by Robert Louis Stevenson. Lon Chaney was a major star in this film, and he starred in two roles, those being Blind Pew and Merry. It starred Shirley Mason in the main role as Jim Hawkins.[1]

Plot[edit | edit source]

A young Jim Hawkins encounters Long John Silver the pirate while both are searching for Captain Flint's buried treasure. He then helps his (widowed) mother run her inn, the Admiral Benbow Inn.

However, when another (former) pirate, Billy Bones is killed at the inn by other pirates looking for the map to Flint's treasure, Jim finds it and secretly lends it to two of his mother's friends, Dr. Livesey, and Squire Trelawny. They both create an expedition to find Flint's treasure, and Jim becomes a stowaway on a ship with a crew of people mostly chosen by Long John Silver.

However, Silver plans to mutiny on his entire crew. Jim discovers his plans and tells Livesey and Trelawny about this plan. They try to keep the pirates occupied until they get to Treasure Island. They get some shelter, but end up fighting. Long John Silver and his crew get ahold of the map, but they end up retreating. Jim and his loyal crew members find the treasure, with the help of Ben Gunn, a stranded pirate.

Availability[edit | edit source]

The film looks to have gotten a very negative reception, with Variety saying:

"This isn't anywhere near the feature it should be. Maurice Tourneur is a Frenchman and seems incapable of making the most of an Anglo-Saxon subject."

The New York Times said:

"Maurice Tourneur's production of TREASURE ISLAND...falls so far short of its original that any comparison of the two must emphasize its defects...The most vivid acting is done by the dependable Lon Chaney in two roles, first, as the blind Pew, and then as the surly Merry."[1]

No footage of the film has survived as of yet,[1][2][3] but, due to it being distributed by Paramount and not MGM unlike London After Midnight, there is a chance it could still survive. But as of now, only stills remain of the film.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Lon Chaney's website on the film. Retrieved 05 Apr '19
  2. Silentera page for the film. Retrieved 05 Apr '19
  3. Library of Congress page for the film. Retrieved 05 Apr '19