Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB. USA, 1974. Reader’s Digest, Apjac International. Screenplay by Richard M. Sherman,Robert B. Sherman, based on the novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. Cinematography by Laszlo Kovacs. Produced by Arthur P. Jacobs. Music by Fred Werner. Production Design by Philip M. Jefferies. Costume Design by Donfeld. Film Editing by Michael F. Anderson.
One of the most beloved stories in American literature is combined with the surefire songwriting team of Richard and Robert Sherman for what should have been a definite classic. What results is a film that falls flat on its face from the minute it begins and never quite recovers. Huck’s adventures are recounted rather faithfully, with all the racist elements of Mark Twain’s original narrative relegated only to the bad guys, as our young hero (played unmemorably by Jeff East) and his friend, an escaped slave played by Paul Winfield, board a river raft and head out for adventure, the fear of the law never far from their minds. Harvey Korman brings life to the proceedings as the self-identified King who wins over his captive audiences with his snide showman skills, but every time the story veers towards Twain’s trying to give a moral conscience to the myths of the old South, a bland song comes along and bogs the experience down. It’s been largely forgotten since its release and rightly so, the weird combination of small-fry appeal and realistic recreation of the period impossible to work out.