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A Few Words About A few words about...™ Tom Sawyer / Huckleberry Finn -- in Blu-ray (1 Viewer)

Robert Harris

Senior HTF Member
Feb 8, 1999
Real Name
Robert Harris
I'd never seen these two APJAC productions. Arthur P. Jacobs was best known for a little series entitled Planet of the Apes, which arrived in 1968.

Tom Sawyer was released in 1973, and Huck Finn a year later. Produced in concert with Reader's Digest, and with quality casts and crew, they're both wonderful fair for kids.

What's interesting here is the amount of talent that went into these productions.

Let's take a look at the credits.

Tom Sawyer was directed by Don Taylor, who made a career change in 1961, after a couple of decades in front of the camera. Probably best known for Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971).

Cast-members, Celeste Holm, Warren Oates, Lucille Benson, Henry Jones, with Johnny8 Whitaker as Tom, Jeff East as Huck, and a very young Jodie Foster as Becky.

Cinematographer was Frank Stanely (Magnum Force, 10).

The great Murray Spivak acted as Sound Re-re supervisor.

Huckleberry Finn features Jeff East as Huck, supported by Paul Winfield, Harvey Norman, David Wayne, Arthur O'Connell, and Gary Merrill.

Laszlo Kovacs was behind the camera.

Did I mention that these are musicals?

Composer on Tom Sawyer was John Williams.

The screenplays of both films were written by the Sherman brothers, who also created songs and lyrics. If the name doesn't sound familiar, here's an hint from Vincent Canby's New York Times review, with an interesting perspective on the quality of Tom vs another film produced a few years previous.

"The new musical version, adapted by Robert B. and Richard M. Sherman, who also wrote the score together, may be just a little too worldly for some people. About half of the songs supplied by the Sherman brothers might—with different lyrics and orchestrations—have turned up in any number of other, considerably inferior Sherman musicals from "Mary Poppins" to "Charlotte's Web." The small, ageless boy who plays Tom—Johnny Whitaker—is a TV veteran, as well as a Disney graduate, and it shows."

The new Blu-ray - both films are on a single BD-50, with no problems - appears to be from an IP, with good color and densities, proper grain structure and black levels. It could have used a bit of clean-up, but for the price of admission, I'll accept it.

Audio is 4.0 DTS on Tom, and 2.0 on Huck. Only minor problem noted, which almost sounded as if it might have been a mag transfer problem, was a slight bit of muffle in some dialogue, but not in music. Not something that would have gotten past Mr. Spivack.

A nice respite from super-hero films for kids, as offered by Twilight Time.


Tom Sawyer - 4.25
Huckleberry Finn - 4.25


Tom Sawyer - 4
Huckleberry Finn - 5

4k Up-rez - 4.5

Pass / Fail - Pass



Last edited:


Senior HTF Member
Mar 1, 2007
New Orleans
Real Name
Remembering my exhibition days, Tom Sawyer was a huge hit and ran weeks at the theatres, then hit the Saturday Matinee circuit for several years. Huck Finn was not so lucky. While a good film with a great cast it just didn't resonate with the audiences at the time. I often thought that it was the sudden death of Arthur P Jacobs just before filming started in Mississippi that cast a dark pale over the production.

I do enjoy both films and a thank you to Twilight for the double feature.


Senior HTF Member
Sep 26, 2005
Camas, WA
Real Name
Mark Probst
I'd recommend you try the new 5.1 mix which has quite a bit more punch than the 4.0 mix. Orchestra sounds fantastic. I agree the dialog had some issue which I assumed to be inferior boom-mike technology of the day. Also don't you think Huckleberry Finn's picture quality was a bit duller than Tom Sawyer's?

Mark B

Sep 27, 2003
Saranac Lake, NY
Real Name
As a rural...very rural child, we had one television station in the 70s and 80s. WBNG, Channel 12 Binghamton. CBS. TOM SAWYER was an anticipated treat several years running.

Tonight I viewed the Blu-Ray with Richard and Bruce's commentary. For sure, the most entertaining moment of a very enjoyable track was the revelation of Warren Oates' ghost singer. It proved to be as entertaining as spotting Mr. Kimmel in multiple Partridge Family cameos.

Jesse Skeen

Senior HTF Member
Apr 24, 1999
Huck Finn looks like it was shot through some weird filter. I have the CED videodisc so will have to compare how that looks. Wondering what the original sound format of that one was, and why it didn't get as much attention on this disc.

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