Treasure of Matecumbe

Treasure of Matecumbe is a 1976 American family adventure film directed by Vincent McEveety and produced by Walt Disney Productions. It was based on the novel A Journey to Matecumbe by Robert Lewis Taylor. The filming locations were in Danville, Kentucky, Sacramento River at Colusa, California and Walt Disney Golden Oak Ranch in California. The final scene at a beached shipwreck was filmed at Walt Disney World's Discovery Island.[1][2]

Treasure of Matecumbe
Treasure of Matecumbe poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byVincent McEveety
Produced byBill Anderson
Ron Miller
Written byDon Tait
Based onA Journey to Matecumbe
by Robert Lewis Taylor
StarringJohnny Doran
Billy Atmore
Robert Foxworth
Joan Hackett
Peter Ustinov
Vic Morrow
Music byBuddy Baker
CinematographyFrank V. Phillips
Edited byCotton Warburton
Distributed byBuena Vista Distribution
Release date
  • July 1, 1976 (1976-07-01)
Running time
115 minutes
CountryUnited States


In post-Civil War Kentucky, ex-slave Ben (Robert DoQui) arrives at Grassy, the decaying plantation where young Davie Burnie (Johnny Doran), his aunts Effie (Jane Wyatt) and Lou (Virginia Vincent), and young ex-slave Thad (Billy Atmore) live. Ben reveals that Davie's father hid a treasure map in a book in the home. That night, Northern carpetbagger Captain Spangler (Vic Morrow) and his men attack the plantation, but Effie helps the boys escape. Ben rips the map from the book and gives it to the boys before being shot and killed by Spangler.

The boys book cheap passage on a steamboat headed down the Mississippi River to New Orleans. They find stowaway Lauriette Paxton (Joan Hackett), a "runaway bride". She cheats a gambler (Dick Van Patten) out of $400 and a ring. One night, a thief steals Davie's wallet (which has his money and map). When Lauriette tries to stop him, he pushes her overboard. The boys jump into the river and save her. Lauriette trades her ring for a mule and cart and the trio make it to the next town. Lauriette turns the boys in as runaways, but they escape. Spangler hears of the jail break, and is back on the boy's trail.

Davie and Thad meet snake oil salesman Dr. Ewing Snodgrass (Peter Ustinov), and join his show. In the next town, Lauriette sees the show. Spangler and his men also see the boys on stage, and Davie flees. Just as Spangler is about to push Davie over a cliff, Lauriette intervenes and drives him off with a gun. Lauriette and Dr. Snodgrass now realize that the boys' tale of a treasure map is true.

Davie suggests they seek out his Uncle Jim (Robert Foxworth), whose home is downriver. Using Snodgrass' boat, they arrive at Jim's home just as he is about to be lynched by the Ku Klux Klan for supporting the North. Thad rescues Jim by lobbing Molotov cocktails at the Klan, which drives them off. They continue downriver, and Jim rescues Lauriette from a group of rough-looking men. At the next landing, the group is ambushed by Spangler and his men, who rode swiftly ahead to overtake them. Jim leads Spangler and his men off, while Snodgrass, Davie, Thad, and Lauriette steal a steamboat (blowing up Snodgress' boat to prevent pursuit).

In New Orleans, the foursome takes a train to Florida, but are spotted by Spangler's men. Reaching the island of Matecumbe, the group hires a guide to get them through a swamp. The guide betrays them and takes them to Spangler. Dr. Snodgrass reveals that he embroidered a copy of the treasure map on his handkerchief, and turns it over to Spangler to save Davie's life. Spangler and his men abandon the group in the swamp and seek the treasure. The next day, Davie and the others are surprised to see Uncle Jim arrive in a boat, guided by his Seminole friend, Charlie (Valentin de Vargas). The group uses Charlie's boat to head for the island and the treasure site even though Charlie says it is located in the territory of the dangerous "Cougar" tribe.

Snodgrass admits he purposefully altered the treasure map embroidery, and Spangler is looking in the wrong place.

The group finds the buried treasure just as a hurricane hits. Snodgrass is swept out to sea by a giant wave. The others stumble into a Cougar burial ground, and take refuge in a chief's tomb. After the hurricane passes, the group is spotted by Spangler and his men. Davie and Thad lead Spangler into the burial ground just as a large number of Cougars arrive. Spangler and his men desecrate several graves and structures as they chase Davie and Thad. Stopping when they see the treasure chest, Spangler and his men are caught by the Cougars. The Native Americans, uninterested in the chest, take the villains off to be killed.

Davie and his friends take the treasure and head back to the beach, where they find Dr. Snodgrass injured but alive. Jim and Lauriette, now in love, agree to move to Grassy with Davie and Thad, and Davie invites Dr. Snodgrass to come live with them.



Blogger Dean L. Jones wrote of the film, "An adventure saga influenced by elements from the fiction of Robert Louis Stevenson, Mark Twain, and others—then illustrates those elements through the nostalgic and memorable prism of the Walt Disney Productions house style—Treasure of Matecumbe is as wonderful depiction of childhood whismey and imagination. […], Treasure of Matecumbe includes murder, mystery and an exciting journey in the search of the treasure of maticumbe"[3]

Upon its release in 1976. The Treasure of Matacumbe premiered throughout the U.S. and was a moderate success. As of 2020, the motion picture was available on Disney Plus[4]


  1. ^ Maltin, Leonard (September 2, 2014). Leonard Maltin's 2015 Movie Guide. Penguin. ISBN 9780698183612 – via Google Books.
  2. ^ Taylor, Drew (November 13, 2019). "15 obscure movies and TV shows on Disney+ you need to check out". SYFY WIRE.
  3. ^ Hanson, By Peter (July 14, 2015). "Every 70s Movie: Treasure of Matecumbe (1976)".
  4. ^ "What To Watch On Disney+: The Ultimate 70s Movies Watchlist". April 28, 2020.

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