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Tom Sawyer

Whoa, here's one for a throwback Thursday. I have vivid memories of taking a field trip as a 12 year old to a nearby theatre to see a premiere of Reader's Digest first foray into the film business.

With songs from "Mary Poppins" writers Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman, TOM SAWYER is an old fashioned (OOOLLLLLDDD fashioned) but entertaining family adaption of the Mark Twain classic.

Disney film regular Johnny Whitaker is Tom, Jodie Foster is Becky Thatcher, Jeff East (Superman) is Huck Finn and Warren Oates (The Wild Bunch) is Muff Potter.

The Sherman Brothers also wrote the screenplay and its a perfectly pleasant Twain adaption that wont ruffle any family feathers with its content. They worked on creating the songs for five years before filming.

Their work for the film was highly regarded. In 1973, the Sherman Brothers made history by becoming the only Americans, ever, to win First Prize at the Moscow Film Festival for Tom Sawyer!

Producer Arthur P. Jacobs made this film at the same time he did his "Planet of the Apes" films, bringing in 'Escape from the Planet of the Apes" director Don Taylor to helm this film as well.

THE John Williams (Star Wars, Jaws) wrote the orchestra score in the non-musical moments.

This was Reader's Digest first film, in cooperation with United Artists and was meant to start a long legacy bringing more family films to big screens. They did produce a sequel, with East back as Huckleberry, but their studio dynasty never took shape.

This film was a big success however, earning Oscar nominations for its music/songs, costumes and production design.

Filmed on location in Missouri, the full size Steamboats and mighty Mississippi serve as a great background and give them film a big-budget feel.

If it has one weakness, its giving Whitaker a singing role. It sounds like Jody from "Family Affairs" voice is changing every time he goes for a high note. Agonizing. I don't need a big screen reminder of Peter Brady's "When It's Time To Change, It's Time to Rearrange" hit single.

But for young ones looking for family friendly adventures and some pleasant songs along the way, it holds up just fine. If the kids dont want to watch "Mary Poppins" one more time, give this one a try.

We'll try to get a couple of these Sherman brothers earworm hooks out of our ears and give it a nostalgic B-.

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