The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh (1963)

The Reverend Doctor Christopher Syn comes from a series of novels by Russell Thorndike and was inspired by 18th-century smuggling when brandy and tobacco were smuggled into the U.S. to avoid British taxation. The books were originally made as movies in 1937 as Doctor Syn and in 1962 as Captain Clegg, which starred Peter Cushing.

The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh was produced for the Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color TV series. Shot on location in England, it was directed by James Neilson, who also made the Disney movies The Moon-Spinners and The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin.

Patrick McGoohan (The Prisoner) plays Dr. Syn in three different parts, which were all edited together to run in British theaters as Dr. Syn, Alias the Scarecrow on a double feature with The Sword in the Stone.

Dr. Syn, a country priest, leads his rebels against the armies of the King of England, who is enslaving American colonists for his Royal Navy. Think of Zorro in the pre-Revolutionary War and you have a good idea of what this is all about,

The first part of the film deals with General Pugh, who has come to the New World to destroy the smuggling ring of Dr. Syn, who is dealing with a traitor in his midst. Finally, Syn rescues his men from General Pugh before faking his death.

I’ve always been fascinated by Dr. Syn/The Scarecrow, who is nearly a horror movie character within the Disney universe. I was so happy when Disney Adventures magazine started featuring his stories in the 2000s, even crossing his story over with Jack Sparrow from The Pirates of the Caribbean.

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