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Savage Sam DVD Review

Savage Sam movie poster - click to buy from MovieGoods.com Savage Sam

Theatrical Release: June 1, 1963 / Running Time: 103 Minutes / Rating: Not Rated

Director:Norman Tokar

Cast: Brian Keith (Uncle Beck Coates), Tommy Kirk (Travis Coates), Kevin Corcoran (Arliss Coates), Dewey Martin (Lester White), Jeff York (Bud Searcy), Marta Kristen (Libseth Searcy), Rafael Campos (Young Warrior)

UPDATE: This Savage Sam DVD was discontinued in 2005 to make way for Old Yeller: 2-Movie Collection, a 2-disc set containing the original Old Yeller, most of its Vault Disney extras, and this 1963 sequel Savage Sam. You can now buy the 2-Movie Collection from Amazon.com or see our detailed 2-Movie Collection DVD review for more information.

Review by Captain Hook

Just as Old Yeller opened with a song (and ended with the same song,
with "Young Yeller" replacing the words "Old Yeller"), Savage Sam opens with the song "Savage Sam." While a fun song reminiscent of the first film, the first ten to fifteen minutes become tedious with Savage Sam trying to follow up everything single thing his father (Old Yeller) did in the first, this time with opposite results. Thankfully, Savage Sam recovers from "sequel-itis", finds its own story and revives itself by the end.

Travis (Tommy Kirk) and Arliss Coates (Kevin Corcoran) have been left home while their parents are visiting their sick grandmother (the same stunt pulled in The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again when characters from the first weren't able to show up for the second). We are introduced to Travis' uncle, Beck (Brian Keith) who tries in vain to take the place of Fess Parker and Dorothy McGuire. His droll personality in the film does not work well, unfortunately, making the loss of Fess and Dorothy worse.

Since Travis has now grown up, his problems are much greater when he, Arliss, and Lisabeth Searcy (Marta Kristen, from the original "Lost in Space" TV series) are taken captive by Indians. While the film doesn't stay exactly true to what probably would have happened, probably because the truth would not make a Disney movie, the film comes off surprisingly well as an escape and rescue story. Marta Kristen takes the role of Lisabeth much further than Beverly Washburn, though feminists will be aghast by her final statement, "Cooking is women's work."

All in all, fans of Old Yeller should enjoy this film because it takes the story in a new direction. Travis and Lisabeth's relationship is explored, Bud Searcy (Jeff York) is actually put in his place for once and proves he has a few good qualities, and keeps faithful to the original story. Disneyana fans will also enjoy seeing that the Native Americans actors who were all recognizable from other Disney "western" films such as Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier and The Light in the Forest.

As fine as the film is, Savage Sam was not received well by the public, probably because, as Leonard Maltin suggested, the connection between it and Old Yeller was too weak or because it had the word "savage" in the title. Either way, Disney released this classic sequel on a single disc, not in its original aspect ratio and without extras.

Buy Savage Sam from Amazon.com Marketplace DVD Details

1.33:1 Reformatted Fullscreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Closed Captioned
Release Date: April 22, 2003
Single-sided, single-layered disc (DVD-5)
Out of Print
Suggested Retail Price: $19.99
(reduced from $22.99)
White Keepcase

VIDEO and AUDIO

Savage Sam offers decent video quality, but pales in comparison to its predecessor's Vault Disney remastering. The mild grain and artifacts were not particularly distracting, and was favorable to some other live action Disney transfers. Besides the fact that it was not presented in its original widescreen aspect ratio (most likely 1.75:1), this transfer is adequate, if unspectacular.

Savage Sam surprisingly boasts a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, but, like Old Yeller doesn't make use of the back speakers too often. It still is clear and understandable in the front speakers.

BONUS FEATURES

Unfortunately, there is nothing in the way of extras, which is especially disappointing since stars Tommy Kirk and Kevin Corcoran readily participated in the bonus features for Old Yeller and Swiss Family Robinson.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

While Savage Sam is an average live action Disney movie, its DVD is a disappointment for fans of Old Yeller and his son. It's a pity that this wasn't at least released in widescreen with a few extras (wouldn't it have been easy to speak to Kevin and Tommy while they made the Old Yeller DVD?), but this disc should suffice for those who are willing to purchase fullscreen films.

Buy from Amazon.com Marketplace

UPDATE: This Savage Sam DVD was discontinued in 2005 to make way for Old Yeller: 2-Movie Collection, a 2-disc set containing the original Old Yeller, most of its Vault Disney extras, and this 1963 sequel Savage Sam. You can now buy the 2-Movie Collection from Amazon.com or see our detailed 2-Movie Collection DVD review for more information.

UltimateDisney.com | Review Index | Old Live Action (Pre-1980) Films Page

Related Reviews:
Old Yeller & Savage Sam: 2-Movie Collection (1957, 1963)
The Tommy Kirk/Kevin Corcoran Connection:
Old Yeller (1957) The Shaggy Dog (1959) Bon Voyage! (1962)
Also Directed by Norman Tokar:
Big Red (1962) Follow Me, Boys! (1966) Rascal (1969)
Snowball Express (1972) The Apple Dumpling Gang (1975)
Also Starring Brian Keith: The Parent Trap (1961) Those Calloways (1965)
Other Disney Dog Films: 101 Dalmatians (1961) Big Red (1962) The Biscuit Eater (1972)
Other Disney Sequels: Son of Flubber (1963) Now You See Him, Now You Don't (1972) The Shaggy D.A.

Reviewed May 6, 2004.