Walt Disney Treasures - Elfego Baca and The Swamp Fox - Legendary Heroes [2 DVD5 ENG sub ENG] [Tntvillage.Scambioetico]
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Elfego Baca e The Swamp Fox:
Robert Loggia (Elfego Baca), Robert F. Simon (Ed Morgan), James Dunn (J. Henry Newman), Lisa Montell (Anita Chavez), Leonard Strong (Zangano), Charles Maxwell (Charlie), Linc Foster (Jim Spears), Rico Alaniz (El Sinverguenza), Lynn Bari (Mrs. Simmons), James Drury (Joe Monroe), Kenneth Tobey (Red Daniels), Annette Funicello (Chiquitta Bernal), Grant Withers (Sheriff Sam), Edward Colmans (Fernando Bernal)
La popolarità di Davy Crockett, le cui avventure furono al prima serie della antologie della “Frontierland”, lasciò a Walt Disney lo spazio per raccontare le storie di altri eroi del passato americano. Walt lo fece, raccontando tra il 1958 e il 1959 le avvenure di Elfego Baca e dell’eroe che va sotto lo pseudonimo di “The Swamp Fox”. Tre episodi di cascuna serie sono contneuti in questo cofanetto.
La serie di Elfego Baca è ambientata nel 1880 nel New Mexico e raccontata le avventure tanto improbabili quanto reali di un cittadino messicano ed Americano che si guadagnò la reputazione di un personaggio difficile da uccidere e che divenne lo sceriffo di una città ed infine di un difensore della legge. Elgeo Baca è poco conosciuto, non lo si ritrova spesso nella letteratura, ma Disney lo celebra come un eroe. I primi due episodi sono sostanzialmente dei Western, mentre successivamente la serie offre molto più di cowboys, indiani, saloons e pistoleri. Tutti questi elementi ritornano negli episodi e si potrebbe rimanere impressionati dalla violenza riportata in un programma del 1950 per la televisione e firmato per giunta da Walt Disney, ma le serie va oltre e mescola elementi della commedia, del film drammatico di avventura, crimine e mistero.
Secondo i nostri standards gli attori di Elfego Baca non sono di prim’ordine salvo Robert Loggia, un giovane italo-americano di Staten Island (New York) che nel ruolo di Elfego Baca ottenne uno dei suoi primi successi. La sua carriera continuo speditamente nella meta degli anni ’70 con apparizioni in film e televisione. La sua rappresentazione di Elfego Baca risultò convincente, un personaggio che non si prende troppo sul serio.
Gli episodi prodotti nella serie furono 10, dei quali qui vengono riportati i primi due ed il quinto.
Gli episodi mostrano la storia di Elfego “El Gato” Baca, evidenziando la sua natura di sceriffo poco ortodosso.
Dodici mesi dopo l’inizio di Elfego Baca, Walt rivolse la sua attenzione alla costa Est degli USA, giusto cent’anni prima, nel periodo in cui le colonie proclamavano la propria indipendenza e si rivoltarono contro il Re d’Inghilterra. La guerra continuava e non tutti gli americani ne comprendevano completamente la necessità. Nel Sud Carolina, un uomo chiamato Francis Marion credeva fermamente nell’indipendenza del suo popolo. Egli capeggiò un piccolo ma ben organizzato gruppo di soldati e, con tattiche elusive, fu soprannominato “The Swap Fox” dai suoi nemici.
"The Swamp Fox" è una serie di tipo drammatico sulla Guerra di Rivoluzione, adattata dal libro Swamp Fox di Robert Bass. Pur non essendo sempre accurata storicamente, la serie si basa per lo più sulle battaglie e campagne condotte dal patriota Marion più che sui personaggi singoli. Questa scelta rende più difficile per noi spettatori moderni essere coinvolti emotivamente. La serie è meno coinvolgente rispetto a Davy Crockett ed Elfego Baca.
Il personaggio è portato sulle scene da Leslie Nielsen ormai conosciuto come attore di commedie.
Il vero Marion doveva avere all’inizio della serie circa 15 anni e quindi stona un po’ con I 33 anni di Nielsen. Lo stesso Swamp Fox fu di ispirazione per il film The Patriot di Mel Gibson.
The popularity of the Davy Crockett adventures, which were among the first of the Frontierland-themed anthology episodes, undoubtedly laid the groundwork for Walt to tell the stories of other real life heroes from America's past. This is precisely what he chose to do, which leads us to "Elfego Baca" and "The Swamp Fox", launched under the Frontierland banner of the anthology series (then known as "Walt Disney Presents") in the falls of 1958 and 1959, respectively. Disney has seen fit to include three episodes from each of these two series in a Walt Disney Treasures set called Elfego Baca • The Swamp Fox: Legendary Heroes.
"Elfego Baca", set in 1880s New Mexico, tells of the improbable but mostly true adventures of a Mexican American man who earned a reputation for being difficult to kill, became sheriff of a town, and then an underdog-defending lawyer. Elfego is not the type of individual you'd read about in history books, but he (at least in Walt Disney's version) is principled and brave, like any hero should be. In its first two episodes, Disney's series can easily be labeled a Western, but those whom the genre immediately turns off, will soon discover (should they give it a chance) that in spite of the untamed West setting of just-north-of-Mexico, the series offers quite a bit more than cowboys, Indians, saloons, and gunplay. All four of those elements do figure in the three chosen episodes and you might be surprised by the levels of violence in a 1950s television program bearing Walt Disney's name and introduction, but comedy, drama, adventure, crime, and mystery are also seamlessly weaved in alongside the involving gunplay.
By today's standards, the acting in "Elfego Baca" is generally pretty weak with one major exception. That exception is Robert Loggia, a young Italian American man from Staten Island, New York, who in the lead role of Elfego had one of his first professional filmed acting gigs. Loggia has had quite an active career since and, now in his mid-70s, is still performing in films and television. Here in his late 20s, Loggia oozes with charisma and just the right amount of confidence, which is good because he's in almost every scene. He makes for a surprisingly convincing Latino and assures that Baca is a hero you can stand behind. Elfego is quite the compelling protagonist, one who doesn't take himself too seriously and isn't upstaged by his nemesis or anyone else.
A total of ten episodes of "Elfego Baca" were produced; this DVD contains the first two and #5. The selected shows provide the all-important incident that had some (including the obligatory theme song men) calling Elfego "El Gato" and a look at Baca's lives as unorthodox sheriff and unrelenting attorney. In the former, Elfego is accompanied by his deputy sheriff Ed Morgan (Robert F. Simon). In the latter, he's joined by senior partner J. Henry Newman (James Dunn). The roles are somewhat interchangeable as mere straight men to Elfego's sensible quirks; Newman is at least defined as an old bachelor. Nonetheless, the show obviously belongs to Elfego and the stories surrounding him are quite compelling. Whether he's tracking down a wanted criminal, trying to prove the innocence of another, or fighting for his life in a hucal, Elfego's encounters with those around him are interesting and entertaining almost entirely due to the character's (and actor's) charm.
Twelve months after introducing Elfego Baca, Walt turned his attentions to the East Coast just over a hundred years earlier. Then existed times of change, with the British-owned American colonies having proclaimed their independence and revolted against the King of England. War persisted, though, and not all Americans saw eye-to-eye on its necessity. In South Carolina, a man named Francis Marion strongly believed in his people's independence. He headed a small but effective group of soldiers and, on account of his elusive tactics, was dubbed the "Swamp Fox" (hence, the series' title) by his foes, which included British commander Banastre Tarleton.
"The Swamp Fox" is strictly an episodic Revolutionary War drama, adapted from the book Swamp Fox by Robert Bass. Whether historically accurate or not, this series places its interest more strongly into the battles and campaigns conducted by patriots like Marion than in any of the individual characters who might have figured into its stories. This focus on strategy, coupled with the physical similarities among the predominantly white male cast, makes it hard (at least for this modern viewer, seeing the show for the first time) to connect emotionally with the
individual characters or invest too much into what happens. Next to "Elfego Baca" and "Davy Crockett", this series is considerably slower and dryer, in spite of the presence of guns and the inherent drama of galloping horses. It is dated and its historical origins seem to lend to only so much of more than minimal excitement.
Marion himself seems to have his heart in the right place and his actions are largely praiseworthy, but he is not the most charismatic protagonist as played by Leslie Nielsen. Nielsen, who has been known for the past 25 years as purely a comedy actor, rarely cracks a smile in the three selected episodes, a fact which contributes to the all-too-serious nature of the dated proceedings. With its attentions held steadfastly to a war now rarely considered for the majority of the year, "The Swamp Fox" is most entertaining in its subplots, where the slightest bit of humanity is enabled to show forth. To this end, there is Sergeant Jasper (Richard Erdman), an excessively theatrical ally of Marion's who gets his jollies by misdirecting the British with a phony contempt for the Swamp Fox and other patriots. There is also Young Gabe Marion (played by Tim Considine of Disney's original The Shaggy Dog and before that, "Mickey Mouse Club" serials "Spin & Marty" and "The Hardy Boys"), Francis's teenaged nephew who yearns to perform heroics for a cause like his Uncle. Finally, there is Marion's girlfriend Mary Videau (Joy Page in the first two episodes, Barbara Eiler thenceforth) whose parents are devout Tories (i.e. British Loyalists), making the face of the enemy potential family for the righteous Marion.
The real Marion would have been nearly fifty during the encounters depicted in Disney's series, quite a bit older than the clean-cut 33-year-old Nielsen. The Swamp Fox was the inspiration for Mel Gibson's character in the 2000 film The Patriot, which, it is said, was supposed to be about the actual Marion until historians cried foul over some questionable actions among Marion's life, such as his mistreatment of slaves and slaughtering of Native Americans. These claims have gone largely unsubstantiated -- which explains why the state-supported Francis Marion University in South Carolina has not changed its name -- and you can be certain that nothing of this sordid sort is depicted in Disney's filming. A little bit of controversy might have given more impact to a modern-day viewing of "Swamp Fox", but alas, it is as inoffensive and bland as any family-friendly drama that manages to cover war and be conscious of its human costs can be.
Formato Audio/Video (Audio/Video Format):
2 dvd5 NTSC
Sottottitoli (Subtitles): English for hear impaired
Tempo Totale di Riproduzione: 352 Minutes (5 ore, 52 minuti)
1.33:1 Fullscreen (Original Ratio) / Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
Subtitles: English; Closed Captioned
Il Disco 1 si apre con un introduzione di Maltin (2:45) su Elfego Baca. Egli discute l’ispirazione alla vita reale del personaggio, con Robert Loggia ed il direttore di Davy Crockett, Norman Foster. I 3 episodi sono contenuti in questo DVD.
The first disc opens with an "Elfego Baca"-tailored introduction (2:45) from Treasures host and film historian Leonard Maltin. He discusses the real-life inspiration, how this series followed in the mold of earlier anthology mainstay "Davy Crockett", and two key players involved in the series, star Robert Loggia and "Crockett" director Norman Foster. The set's three "Elfego Baca" episodes all appear on Disc 1. They are available to select individually or with a "Play All" button. While the episodes are not individually introduced the way other Treasures composed of television programming have been, they are divided into about 5 or 6 chapters each, where one assumes commercial breaks would have been, an assumption that the significant fadeouts would seemingly agree with.
Episode #1: The Nine Lives of Elfego Baca (50:51) (Originally aired October 3, 1958)
Our first glimpse of Elfego Baca comes as he borrows a sheriff's star to arrest a drunken cowboy who is stirring up trouble along the town streets. A $5 fine may seem inconsequential even in 1880s currency, but the cowboy's friends respond to Baca's uncommon act of law enforcement. The first half of this debut episode depicts the incident which earned Elfego his reputation for being incredibly tough to kill. In a tiny shack, he holds off a band of bullies firing endless amounts of bullets from numerous directions. This goes on for a period of 33 hours. Close and long-range bullets plus a bit of dynamite take a serious toll on the shack, but Baca and his only company (a statue of Santa Ana) emerge without a scratch.
Elfego only surrenders to an out-of-town member of law enforcement and his improbable escape from death garners him the sparsely-used nickname "El Gato" (Spanish for "The Cat", a reference, along with the title, to feline's propensity to multiple lives).
The latter portions cover Elfego's criminal trial, where his fate appears to be in question only if you forget that there's no way our clearly self-defensive hero is going to jail for a long sentence. Freed on his charges, Elfego picks up a love interest (Anita Chavez, the woman who impromptu lent her shack for his earlier stand-off), resolves a miner issue at his cousin Arturo's store, and then achieves the unlikely capture of a gunman holding down a hotel room. This all leads to Elfego acquiring the role of sheriff in Socorro, his cousin's town, while continuing his new, self-initiated studies to become a lawyer on the side.
Episode #2: Four Down and Five Lives to Go (52:17) (Originally aired October 17, 1958)
Comfortable in his role as a principled sheriff, Elfego carries out his job in his own way, writing letters to wanted criminals requesting they turn themselves in or he'll come shooting at them. This works for some, but others requires a more active approach, like "Grub Stake Charlie" Filmore, a mountain man who is hostilely possessive of land that isn't his. In a task which occupies more efforts, Elfego also must deal with a Mexican murder suspect who has the vaguest of descriptions and is known only by the name "El Sinverguenza" (The Shameless One). This assignment has Elfego combining business and pleasure at a feast day dance in Frisco, and then following the outlaw's trail, with a bit of guidance from an Indian chief. Bringing "El Sinverguenza" in on charges requires Elfego to go south of the U.S./Mexican border and back. Instead of gratitude, the sheriff is met with new mobs who wish to take justice in their own hands and prison cells oozing with unrest. This and a near-death encounter lead Elfego to resign as sheriff at the end of the show, heading for Santa Fe to study law full-time. The post-climactic content previews upcoming anthology installment "Texas John Slaughter", "The Pigeon That Worked a Miracle", and Disney's ABC series "Zorro."
Episode #5: Elfego Baca, Attorney at Law (52:18) (Originally aired February 6, 1959)
We then skip ahead to the fifth episode, perhaps for no reason other than to include the series' lone guest appearance from Walt's most famous Mouseketeer, Annette Funicello. In a pretty small role which predates most of her Disney feature film work and all of her beach movies, Annette plays an unconvincing Mexican girl named Chiquita, one of two teenaged daughters that Fernando Benal must leave behind when he is arrested in conjunction with the tense bank robbery that begins this episode. One can deduce from the title and the show itself that Elfego has been a lawyer for some time, and this fact introduces a change of tone from the first two episodes on the disc. There's less gunplay and a feel more in line with Disney's big screen melodramas of the era, like Pollyanna and such. Nonetheless, it also seems ahead of its time with its In the Heat of the Night-type mystery.
As a lawyer, Elfego's motives are different from what they were as a sheriff but they are no less respectable. Convinced that Fernando is innocent, Baca tries to piece together a reasonable explanation why Mrs. Simmons identified his client at the scene of the crime. Meanwhile, Fernando's two daughters Chiquita and Lolita (an uncredited Gloria Castillo) invade the bachelor zone that is the home of Elfego's law partner J. Henry Newman (James Dunn). Elfego's trail leads him to a cranky drunk named Red Daniels (Kenneth Tobey from the "Davy Crockett" series) and Mrs. Simmons herself, much to the disapproval of deputy sheriff Joe Monroe (James Drury of Pollyanna and Toby Tyler). This episode is not necessarily weaker than the first two, but it does take the series and Elfego's character in a new, slightly less life-threatening direction. The post-show footage previews sixth Elfego Baca episode "The Griswold Murders", a Donald Duck shorts-compilation anthology special titled "Duck Flies Coop", and then-playing-theatrically animated fairy tale Sleeping Beauty.
Due Bonus vengono presentati nel Disco 1.
Il primo è un’intervista con Robert Loggia: "The Many Lives of Robert Loggia" (16:30). L’attore che conosciamo per lo più per Big, Scarface o Independence Day torna indietro nel tempo a ricordare come venne sviluppato il personaggio di Elfego, mentre non aveva alcuna esperienza di cavalcatura.
Galleries! È una serie di tre collezioni di immagini. Una rappresenta Elfego (26 immagini) ed una Swamp Fox (27 immagini). Più interessante sembra quella relativa alla Merchandise (17 immagini).
Two supplements can be found on Disc 1. First is about the coolest newly-produced "Elfego Baca" piece you could hope for. That's right -- an interview with the star in "The Many Lives of Robert Loggia" (16:30). Lifelong Disney fan Leonard Maltin catches up with the actor, who you're apt to know more from Big, Scarface, or Independence Day, as Loggia turns on the memory machine (Maltin's phrase, not mine). He recalls developing the character of Elfego with Walt, having had no prior experience with horse-riding or other ways of the West, appearing at Disneyland in 1959, and other occurrences tied to his breakthrough television role.
There are a few noticeable (and probably unnecessary) edits to the interview, which result in tone changes in the middle of statements and Loggia saying a grand total of one sentence on voicing Sykes in Oliver & Company. On the whole, though, it's still very neat to hear Maltin chat with Loggia, who clearly holds fond (and vivid) memories from the series. Loggia even shares a funny anecdote about when the "yuppies" finally noticed him. Plus, he puts on his old hat and points his old gun at old Lenny, making this one bonus you definitely won't want to miss.
Next and last on Disc 1 is that Treasures staple: Galleries! There are a grand total of three collections of images to choose from. There's one for Elfego and one for Swamp Fox, holding 26 and 27 black and white photos of production and action. Most interesting is the Merchandise gallery, containing 17 stills primarily of Walt Disney Presents magazine covers plus a few promotional photos, and a couple of pictures of a Swamp Fox board game. (Let's hope it was more rousing than the series!)
Al solito il Disco 2 inizia con un’introduzione di Leonard Maltin (2:46) filmato al Golden Oak Ranch. Maltin spiega cosa condusse Disney al cosiddetto Robin Hood della Rivoluzione Americana. Anche in questo caso vengono riportati tre episodi.
When you pop Disc 2 into your player, you are subjected to the usual FBI warnings, but then - what's this? - film historian and Disney fan Leonard Maltin! In an introduction (2:46) filmed at the Golden Oak Ranch, Maltin discusses what drew Walt to the so-called "Robin Hood of the American Revolution" (hint: his love of American history) as well as some of the "Swamp Fox" cast members that film buffs would know from elsewhere. Old film buffs, it should be pointed out, with the exception of now comedic goofball Leslie Nielsen.
Episode #1: The Birth of the Swamp Fox
American colonel Francis Marion attempts to break up a Tory-organized party he thinks is being thrown to make the patriots defenseless against an invasion in Charleston. He makes his exit the only way he can: by jumping off a balcony. The resulting ankle injury doesn't prevent Marion from doing his part to disarm the enemy. It also allows him time to stop home,
see his girlfriend Mary Videau, and slip to safety on Snow Island. There, with some help from Sergeant Jasper and Young Gabe, Marion (now dubbed and celebrated as "Swamp Fox") prepares his men to take the British by surprise and free their patriot prisoners. The next episode is previewed before the end credits.
Episode #2: Brother Against Brother (52:24) (Originally aired October 30, 1959)
The Tories have been burning down the houses of patriots and the patriots are prepared to retaliate...on the house of Marion's girlfriend Mary. The Swamp Fox steps in, certain that Mary shares his allegiances, but is surprised to find her throwing a party for redcoats and Tories. Later, with another act from Sergeant Jasper, Marion and his men plot another ambush on the British to reclaim more patriot prisoners with secret information they have obtained. The end of the episode includes previews for "Move Along, Mustangers" (the seventh installment of "Elfego Baca"), next week's program "Perilous Assignment" on the filming of Third Man on the Mountain in the Alps' Matterhorn, and then the forthcoming rock-climbing movie itself.
Episode #3: Tory Vengeance (52:23) (Originally aired January 1, 1960)
After Mary's servant boy is killed, Marion and his men pay a visit to the house of Tory leader Colonel Townes (Henry Daniel) where Mary (now played by Barbara Eiler) is and do a little barbaric play-acting to assure her safety. Mary tries to keep her espionage under wraps amidst the suspicions of Colonel Tarleton (John Sutton). After weeks away, Young Gabe returns as the governor's emissary. While his love interest Melanie Culpin (Sherry Jackson) is excited to see him again, Gabe is merely excited to be an officer. Over some concern, they make seemingly abrupt plans to wed, but his eagerness to be part of the action only finds him being taken prisoner by Colonel Townes and the Tories. The climactic scenes of this episode are slightly more memorable than what has come before, if only because the characters take temporarily precedence over the cause. Surprisingly, a key individual (one of the more interesting personalities) winds up dead when it's done. Does killing off one of the few identifiable figures put a damper in the rest of the series? I don't know, but if they see the light of DVD, the five remaining episodes should clue us in to whether things on "The Swamp Fox" got better or worse. The first of these is promoted, along with Third Man on the Mountain, at the end of this installment.
Il Disco 2 ha un solo Bonus:
"Walt Disney Presents Heroes of the American Frontier" (18:05) un documentario riguardante lo sguardo storico di Walt Disney ed il suo desiderio di educare ed intrattenere insieme.
The retrospective interview with Leslie Nielsen that you may be expecting is nowhere to be found here. Instead, Disc 2's sole supplement is "Walt Disney Presents Heroes of the American Frontier" (18:05), a solid documentary on Walt Disney's foray into television and his desire to educate and entertain youths with the informative and rather popular "Frontierland" installments devoted to past American heroes, such as this DVD set's two featured shows. "Elfego Baca" and "The Swamp Fox" are, of course, covered,
as are "Davy Crockett", Walt's first and most significant anthology success, and "Texas John Slaughter", the longest-running "Walt Disney Presents" subject of its kind. With relevant clips from the series, archival photos and memorabilia, and comments from three interviewees (author/Disney aficionado Bill Cotter, film historian Frank Thompson, and UCLA history professor Stephen Aron), this piece provides nice context for the presented series, their production origins, and their effect on the public in the early days of television's acceptance. There's even a bit comparing "Crockett"'s depiction of Native Americans to the same in Disney's Pocahontas.
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