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Anchor Bay presents
The Castaway Cowboy (1974)

"It's Booton!"
- Booton MacAvoy (Eric Shea)

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: February 26, 2001

Stars: James Garner, Vera Miles, Robert Culp
Other Stars: Eric Shea, Elizabeth Smith, Manu Tupou, Gregory Sierra, Shug Fisher
Director: Vincent McEveety

Manufacturer: Nimbus
MPAA Rating: G
Run Time: 01h:31m:12s
Release Date: May 02, 2000
UPC: 013131109696
Genre: family

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B B-BA- D-

DVD Review

James Garner is best known to kids of the 1970s as private investigator Jim Rockford of The Rockford Files, a role he held for the six years of the show's production. He had first come to public attention in his three year stint as Brett Maverick (a role he would reprise opposite Jodie Foster in the film of the same name as the TV series, Maverick) in the late 1950s. In 1973, under the direction of another McEveety, he played a corporal in the United States camel corps in the Disney picture, One Little Indian. The following year, he would return to Disney again opposite Vera Miles (Psycho) for Vincent McEveety's The Castaway Cowboy.

Young Booton MacAvoy (Eric Shea, The Poseiden Adventure) lives with his mother Henrietta (Miles) on a 10,000 acre potato farm in the Sandwich Islands. Even though they have the help of a group of native workers, making ends meet on the farm has been hard, forcing Henrietta to borrow extensively from a local merchant Bryson (Robert Culp). Bryson has been after her hand in marriage since her husband died, but Henrietta vows to keep the relationship business only. When Lincoln Costain (Garner), a man recovering at the MacAvoy's after being washed ashore, suggests that herding and selling the wild cattle that have been rampaging through the gardens could turn a tidy profit back in his native Texas, Henrietta suggests he stay and help her become a cattle rancher. Her son, meanwhile, has taken a liking to Costain as a possible father figure, despite Costain's strong indications that he is not for settling down. Turning the native workers into cowboys is a task of which Costain does not realize the scope. His first attempts to teach the men the ways of the rancher are abysmal failures, from riding a horse to roping steers. In order to facilitate the horses and bridlery required for a ranch, Henrietta mortgages her farm to Bryson, but as the continued training of her crew is bearing no results, Costain decides he had better pack up and head back home. When Booton finds out he is gone, the young boy needs to draw on what he'd learned from the man to make a last effort to keep The Castaway Cowboy on the farm, and ultimately keep Bryson away from his mother.

The locations on Kauai are quite breathtaking, from glades and beaches to a pool with lava water slides and falls. We get a fair share of action, from stampedes and fist fights, to run-ins with witch doctors and plenty of horseback hijinx from the would-be ranchers. While Garner is his usual charming self, and the premise is another oddball one, overall this doesn't have the same level of quality found in some of the other Disney films from the same era. It is still light-hearted and entertaining, but misses the mark for becoming a classic. Still, it is nice to see that the film is at least available on DVD, and the film is suitable for all ages.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Here in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio, the source image has its share of problems. While colors are reasonably vibrant, there is a fair deal of edge enhancement, which also affects the contrast and adversly affects the sharpness of the presentation. Dust and specs are fairly prevalent throughout, though major print damage is at a minimum. Still, the look of the film is not that bad for the most part, and the graininess and its inherant compression artifacts are not overwhelming.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: The two channel mono soundtrack is devoid of any major aberrations, and is generally clean and free of distortion. A minor amount of hiss is present at times, but does not detract from the experience. Not outstanding, but certainly passable.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Production Notes
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Like most of Anchor Bay's Disney licenses, The Castaway Cowboy is barren of extras. The disc does include a sturdy cardboard one sheet reproduction, along with liner notes on the reverse of the cover.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

The Castaway Cowboy is an enjoyable, if somewhat predictable, installment in the Disney film library. It's exotic locations are interesting, and its story of the first cattle ranch on the Hawaiian islands is certainly unique, but it lacks some of the magic that made these films great. Garner and Miles give fine enough performances, but there is just something about this film that didn't quite hit home. As family entertainment, it will be enjoyable for kids, though adults may find it a little old.


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