Movie Review – ‘The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin’

Hello everyone! 🙂

Welcome to ‘Bradley’s Basement’ blog and I’m Tim Bradley!

It’s time to talk about another Disney film I saw recently on Disney+! 🙂 The film in question is ‘The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin’! This is an American western comedy film starring Roddy McDowall as Eric ‘Bullwhip’ Griffin. He’s accompanied by Suzanne Pleshette, Bryan Russell, Hermione Baddeley and Karl Malden.

I must admit when I watched the film in its first half, I did think this film wasn’t particularly interesting as it started off as a standard drama flick. But as the film progressed, I picked up there were comedic elements to be found, especially in some of the goofy cartoon effects featured in it. 😀

The film takes place in 1848. After Suzanne Pleshette as Arabella Flagg becomes orphaned in Boston, Bryan Russell (who was previously in ‘Emil and the Detectives’) as her young brother Jack and Roddy McDowall as the family’s former butler Eric Griffin stow away aboard a ship bound for San Francisco.

Jack and Griffin hope to join the gold rush that’s happening in San Francisco. Griffin gets work as the ship’s cook with Jack assisting him. But Karl Malden as swindler and thief called Judge Higgins steals a map to a gold mine that belongs to Richard Haydn as Quentin Bartlett, an actor among passengers.

Griffin, Jack and Bartlett pursue the crooked judge. Meanwhile, Arabella arrives in town where she takes a job as a dancehall girl to make ends meet. Griffin also meets Mike Mazurki as beefy bully Mountain Ox. Griffin lashes out a punch which flattens Mountain Ox and he’s nicknamed ‘Bullwhip’.

There is soon a prize-fighting match between Griffin and Ox and eventually Griffin wins the money. He also wins Arabella’s affections whilst Judge Higgins, who tried to steal the prize-fighting match’s receipts, is put behind bars with a lynch mob outside. Why was Mr. Higgins a judge to begin with? 😐

Apparently, the film’s story is based on the novel by Sid Fleischman called ‘By the Great Horn Spoon!’ I’m not sure if there’s any historical significance to the formation of San Francisco as implied at the film’s end, although the Bullwhip character in the book was originally called ‘Praiseworthy’. 😐

I can’t deny that the film got rather silly towards its conclusion, especially during the prize-fighting match scene where cartoon sound effects and cartoon effects were added. Also it got silly in terms of how ‘Bullwhip’ Griffin was able to outwit Mountain Ox without actually laying a big punch on him.

Incidentally, Roddy McDowall played the Bookworm villain in the 1960s ‘Batman’ TV show with Adam West, didn’t you know? He was also in 1981’s ‘Evil Under The Sun’ apparently. I enjoyed the double act he shared with Bryan Russell’s Jack as they shared adventures together out in the wild. 🙂

Also in the cast are Harry Guardino as Sam Trimble, Alan Carney as Joe Turner, Liam Redmond as Captain Swan, Cecil Kellaway as Mr. Pemberton, Joby Baker as Bandido Leader, Parley Baer as Chief Executioner, Arthur Hunnicutt as the referee, Dub Taylor as the Timekeeper, Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez as a Bandido, John Qualen as a barber and Jimmy MacDonald as a saloon percussionist. 😀

Hermoine Baddeley (who was in the original ‘Mary Poppins’ film starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke) plays Miss Irene Chesney. There’s also a weird portrait of Arabella’s father who keeps changing expressions from happy to angry. I’ve seen this happen in another film called ‘Mouse Hunt’.

There are songs featured in the film which were written by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman. The Bullwhip Griffin theme song was written by Mel Leven and George Bruns. George Bruns provided the film’s musical score. There’s this certain joviality when hearing the film’s music. 🙂

Overall, ‘The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin’ is a fun romp to watch. It starts off being uninteresting at first before you get into the spirit of the film and enjoy some of the comedic moments. That moment where Ox got punched by Griffin and a man was revealed to have a bath was very hilarious.

Thanks for reading!

Bye for now!

Tim. 🙂


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