The father and daughter Millses – John and Hayley, that is – are co-starred for the third time in Richard Thorpe’s The Truth About Spring, a low-key, rather charming romantic adventure featuring a coming-of-age story amalgamated with a modern-day pirate adventure movie.
The Production: 3/5
The father and daughter Millses – John and Hayley, that is – are co-starred for the third time in Richard Thorpe’s The Truth About Spring, a low-key, rather charming romantic adventure featuring a coming-of-age story amalgamated with a modern day pirate adventure movie. The actors are pros, the locations splendid, and the story, thin and uninspired as it is, combine for a most pleasant movie-going experience.
On summer vacation after graduating law school and passing the bar exam, William Ashton (James MacArthur) decides to ditch his wealthy Uncle Charles’ (David Tomlinson) stuffy yacht and spend a couple of weeks with carefree maritime panhandlers Tommy (John Mills) and Spring (Hayley Mills) Tyler scooting around the Caribbean in search of adventure. Always scheming, Tommy has hooked two pirate booty scavengers Cark and Cleary (Lionel Jeffries, Niall MacGinnis) into financing an expedition to unearth some treasure from a sunken ship that only he knows the location of. No one trusts anyone else in the enterprise, but Tommy is so resourceful that he’s not worried of the threats the partners lob at him. Meanwhile, Ashton and Spring find a mutual attraction, but Spring’s inexperience with romance causes her to throw up obstacles despite finding herself falling for the handsome young lawyer.
James Lee Barrett’s screenplay is based on a story by Henry De Vere Stacpoole which had already been filmed once during the silent era. Modernized and filmed with dazzling color, the film becomes a combination of modern pirating and coming-of-age romance, both very lightly and breezily handled. The pirating sequences aren’t very compelling, and despite some pistols and rifles being waved about, things never really seem that dangerous, and the path to the potential treasure isn’t particularly suspenseful or labyrinthine. The romantic complications of a tomboy finding herself maturing into a woman and desiring the young man intently interested in her is more compelling, but even there, the emotions are never overpowering, and it’s all handled gently and sedately for the family audience of its era. Director Richard Thorpe does his yeoman-like chores without unnecessary adornments, but he does film lovely sea vistas throughout and handles a brief sequence where the heroes steer their craft through narrow rocky passages with aplomb. Tommy’s continually crafty ability to panhandle goods from charitable passers-by and even his enemies ranks among the movie’s most charming sequences.
As always, John and Hayley Mills work beautifully together, here playing an actual father and daughter for the first time in their (then) three films together. John is much more masterful in hiding his British accent than Hayley who was never able to master that very well, but their chemistry together is palpable, and all their scenes together are a pleasure. James MacArthur was the perfect choice for Hayley’s young love: handsome, athletic, intelligent – almost too good to be true, but their attraction is also quite obvious. The sea dogs out to find treasure – Niall MacGinnis, Lionel Jeffries, and Harry Andrews (who plays Jeffries’ first mate) – get to overact to their hearts’ content and prove fairly ineffectual (if amusing) villains. David Tomlinson rates guest star billing as the skirt-chasing uncle of MacArthur’s Ashton who appears only at the beginning and end of the film.
3D Rating: NA
The film’s 1.85:1 original theatrical aspect ratio is faithfully achieved in this 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Sharpness is brilliantly crisp, and the bright, vivid color is a pleasure to watch at all times. Flesh tones are suitably tan for the seafarers and milky for the urbanites, and black levels are nicely achieved. The movie has been divided into 8 chapters.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono sound mix is exactly what one would expect from a film from this era. Dialogue has been well recorded (and looping during outdoor oceanside shots has been done seamlessly) and has been combined with Robert Farnon’s background score and the various sound effects to make an outstanding mono track. There are no problems at all with hiss, pops, crackle, or flutter.
Special Features: 2/5
Audio Commentary: film historian Gary Gerani offers an enthusiastic running discussion of the film, its major players before and behind the camera, its production, and its reception. Fans of the film will enjoy his zesty comments about the movie.
Theatrical Trailer (2:27, HD)
Kino Trailers: The Chalk Garden, Endless Night, Gambit, The Pink Jungle, What’s So Bad About Feeling Good?, Fitzwilly, The Secret War of Harry Frigg.
Richard Thorpe’s The Truth About Spring is a tame yet tolerable adventure-romance along the lines of Hayley Mills’ The Moon-Spinners but with a bit more comedy and bit less suspense. Fans will be undoubtedly delighted with the sterling video and audio quality of Kino Lorber’s Blu-ray release.
Other New Releases You May Like
Some of our content may contain marketing links, which means we will receive a commission for purchases made via those links. In our editorial content, these affiliate links appear automatically, and our editorial teams are not influenced by our affiliate partnerships. We work with several providers (currently Skimlinks and Amazon) to manage our affiliate relationships. You can find out more about their services by visiting their sites.