Watching Every Disney Film: 1955: Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier

Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 / Part 5

Sing it with me now; Davy, Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier…

I did not know how much there actually was in that song, detailing good ol’ Davy’s exploits through this film, which ties together the first three episodes of the TV series. Spoilers: I have no idea how they had any more episodes, seeing as Davy dies at the end of this, but there is also a sequel, which is doubly puzzling as King of the Wild Frontier seemed to cover a lot, how did he have time for an adventure with river pirates?

When we first meet Davy, he’s trying to hunt a bear by grinning at him. A volunteer for the army, he wins friends with his charm, and finds a diplomatic way to end the wars with the Native Americans. I can’t speak to the authenticity of these portrayals, but wow was this film brutal towards indigenous folks. I’ve mentioned in previous posts this kind of clumsy attempts at progressiveness, and this film does have them – Davy approaches those he’s fighting with and explains why fighting isn’t viable, and actually does his best to try and stop the US taking more land away from them. At another point he fights against a gang who are stealing homes from Native Americans, and drives them away.

Admittedly, before watching this…I didn’t even realise Crockett was a real person. But it’s easy to see how he achieved ‘folk hero’ status, seeing as he was apparently in the middle of some big early US history events. Including the Alamo. Which this film…did not enlighten me about at all.

Side-Note: I feel like every time I read or hear anything about this famous stand-off, I walk away feeling more confused. This was no exception. Davy and co are travelling, told about a group stuck there, and head off to join them. Without trying to find out what’s actually happening? No questions, just, “Yes, we will take part in this suicide mission.” Okay dokey.

Also, wow it was way easier to become a politician back then, wasn’t it?

So, Davy had a pretty interesting life, that was then portrayed on this film, which still leaves some gaps but was entertaining enough. And it had those old Hollywood fight scenes where someone punches someone else, the person who was punched falls over like five seconds later, and the same happens when someone is shot. It’s ridiculous. If you’re looking to watch some of these old ‘classics’ with kids, I’d definitely recommend waiting until they’re old enough you can sit down with them and explain why a lot of this is historically inaccurate, and the portrayals of some things are just…completely wrong. Also why a lot of the words used are not used now.

Is this a film you’ve seen? Did you grow up watching it on Sunday afternoons (it feels like a Sunday afternoon movie for sure) and have fond memories of it, or just find it really boring? I’d love to know!

The next film on the list is Lady and the Tramp, a childhood favourite of mine because I was obsessed with anything to do with dogs, and I’m looking forward to it!

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