Dr. Syn, Alias the Scarecrow (1963)

Patrick McGoohan, George Cole, Tony Britton, Michael Hordern,
In eighteenth century England, the mysterious masked rider known as the Scarecrow (Patrick McGoohan) leads a rebel band to save the town of Romney Marsh from King George III's (Eric Pohlmann's) oppression and Naval press gangs.
  • 7.3 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • William Buchanan, Russell Thorndike, Robert Westerby, Writer:
  • James Neilson, Director:
  • Producer:
7 / 10

A Smuggling Operation on the Coast of England

This film takes place in the late 19th century in England where high taxes on certain goods has created a smuggling ring that is operating on the southeast coast in Kent near the small town of Dymchurch. Because England needs the revenue to continue its wars with France and to hold down the rebellion in its American colonies, the decision is made to send a high-ranking officer by the name of "General Pugh" (Geoffrey Keen) to solve the problem using whatever means are necessary. What he doesn't realize is that the entire town has benefited from the smuggling operation in one way or another and as a result many of the townspeople have conflicting loyalties. Likewise, the leader of the smugglers is a costumed man known simply as the "Scarecrow" (Patrick McGoohan) who is as terrifying as he is clever. As a result, General Pugh has to resort to even more harsh methods to ascertain the scarecrow's identity in order to bring him to justice. What he doesn't know is that the Scarecrow has spies everywhere and quite often he is aware of General Pugh's plans before they are even passed on to his soldiers. Now rather than reveal any more I will just say that this film was essentially taken from a 3-part mini-series and condensed into a 98 minute movie. Fortunately, the editing was top-notch and the film itself is one that is quite enjoyable on its own accord with Patrick McGoohan putting in an outstanding performance as both the Scarecrow and under his dual identity "Dr. Syn." That being said, this is one of those movies that can be watched by the entire family and I recommend it to all those who are interested.

7 / 10

Old-fashioned daring-do

Probably not quite right for anyone over the age of 12 and under the age of 55. But it is what it is, more of a 1930s rollocking adventure production than 1960s, but with the benefit of full-colour and the many talents of Patrick McGoohan and some nice horses. The gang's masks are amazing, as it McGoohan's cackling, and the many cunning plans and escapades are just clever enough to satisfy and outwit the dreaded King's men although more analytical teenagers might be more inclined to tear them to shreds. Don't take it too seriously and you'll find that you probably quite enjoy it.

7 / 10

Very satisfying classic Disney production

Recently Disney released Dr. Syn The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh on DVD as part of their Treasures series. I had never heard of this title before, but after some brief research I discovered that Dr. Syn is beloved in the memories of people who as children saw the program in its three parts on television in the early 1960s. In reviews of the miniseries (later edited and released as a feature film) there is nothing but praise for every aspect of the production and the actors. I bought the 2 DVD set at Costco for $20 and not long after read reports of the set being sold-out, to the anger and frustration of collectors and fans. Now the set is selling for upwards of $200 online due to its scarcity. The Disney Treasures items are limited, after all. I am very glad I picked up my copy, even if it was a blind buy. I finally got around to watching the original 3 part feature and I can say that I am a fan of this wonderful production. First, the DVD production from the steel case to the picture and sound restoration, is excellent. It looks very, very good. Every aspect of the feature itself is top notch, from the writing, directing, photography and acting. Patrick McGoohan, as both title characters is perfect for this role. He plays the mild-mannered, quiet-spoken vicar by day, and by night he is the terrifying gravel-voiced scarecrow of Romney Marsh in 18th century South England. As both vicar and Scarecrow, Dr Syn is a hero to the poor folks, running interference between them and King George the Third's soldiers and press gangs. It is inevitable that comparisons to Batman will be made, but folks, Dr Syn came long before Batman, and McGoohan in both roles as the robed preacher and his masked outlaw alter-ego brings the story to life. The supporting cast is outstanding as well, and story, supervised personally by Disney himself, is exciting and comes to a satisfying conclusion. Very highly recommended.

10 / 10

Scarecrow is the Bomb!

Patrick McGoohan makes the legend come alive. The acting in this Disney classic is inspired...I waited anxiously for it to appear when I was a child and sought it out as an adult. It's a must see!