Tony Mastroianni Review Collection
Douglas' home movie is no treasure
Cleveland Press November 6, 1973
"Scalawag" is a landlocked "Treasure Island." Robert Louis Stevenson's great tale has been redone with bandits instead of pirates and turned into a western instead of a seafaring saga.
But it isn't only the changes that make "Scalawag" a failure. It is a general lackluster look, a slowness of development, an attempt at a more complicated plot that causes the story to flounder.
It's too bad. Kirk Douglas in the Long John Silver role (he is renamed Peg) goes about with a wooden leg, his real leg strapped up behind, him. It must have been awfully uncomfortable and yet he doesn't stint on the action. So much discomfort should have been rewarded with a better movie.
The picture, filmed in Yugoslavia, is set a long the Baja, Calif. border in 1840.
The loot, instead of being on an island, is in an in accessible canyon. A parrot rather than a map holds the secret to its location.
Mark Lester is the little boy who discovers the secret I of the treasure. He has a sister, Lesley Anne Down, which is supposed to add some kind of interest to the picture. They both speak with British accents, these Californians. There's a hero George Eastman who smiles a lot and who keeps getting admiring glances from Miss Down.
Nothing that happens is very interesting, suspenseful or exciting. Douglas plays the part of a lovable rogue very, very broadly.
He also directed the picture which was produced by his wife, Anne Douglas. Their sons, Peter and Eric, are credited with being still photographer and producer's assistant respectively.
If "Scalawag" accomplished nothing else it certainly kept the Douglas family gainfully employed.