Johnny Tremain (film)

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For the novel from which the film is based, see Johnny Tremain.
Johnny Tremain
Johnny Tremain poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Robert Stevenson
Produced by Walt Disney
Written by Esther Forbes
Tom Blackburn
Starring Hal Stalmaster
Luana Patten
Jeff York
Sebastian Cabot
Music by

George Bruns
Tom Blackburn (lyrics)

SONG: "LIBERTY TREE" by George Bruns and Tom Blackburn
Cinematography Charles P. Boyle
Edited by Stanley E. Johnson
Distributed by Buena Vista Distribution
Release dates
June 19, 1957 (1957-06-19)
Running time
80 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Johnny Tremain is a 1957 film made by Walt Disney Productions,[1] based on the 1944 Newbery Medal-winning children's novel of the same name by Esther Forbes, retelling the story of the years in Boston, Massachusetts prior to the outbreak of the American Revolution. The movie was directed by Robert Stevenson. It was made for television, but first released to theatres. Walt Disney understood the new technology of color television and filmed his Walt Disney anthology television series in color. But the show, known as Disneyland at that time, was broadcast in black and white. After its theater run in 1957, the film was shown in its entirety on television in two episodes (in color, then known as The Wonderful World of Disney), rather than as a complete film on a single evening, on February 2 and February 9, 1957.


Johnny Tremain is apprenticed to a silversmith, Mr. Lapham. One day, wealthy Jonathan Lyte asks Mr. Lapham to fix a broken silver tea cup. Lapham refuses because he believes he is too old for such jobs. Tremain believes he is skilled enough to do the job, and accepts. After trying several times but failing, he asks fellow silversmith, Paul Revere, for help designing a new handle. Revere tells him to make the handle deeper and larger. Eager to try the new design, Johnny breaks the Sabbath and accidentally burns his hand. The damage is so severe that he will never have full use of the hand again, and cannot continue as a silversmith apprentice. No one will hire him with only one usable hand. The Sons of Liberty recruit him as a messenger, to secretly inform members of the times and locations of meetings.

Johnny confides to Priscilla Lapham, Mr. Lapham's daughter, that he is secretly related to Mr. Lyte. He shows her a christening cup bearing the Lyte family crest as evidence. Desperate for money, he approaches Lyte and shows him the christening cup. Lyte assumes that Johnny stole the cup, and files charges against him. Josiah Quincy defends Johnny in court. Introducing Priscilla as a witness, Quincy proves Johnny's innocence.

Afterward, Tremain and the Sons of Liberty become active in several notable events leading to the American Revolution, including the Boston Tea Party, Paul Revere's Ride, and the Battles of Lexington and Concord. During the Boston Tea Party, Dr. Joseph Warren offers to restore Tremain's hand, allowing him to return to his profession.


Walt Disney's daughter Sharon Mae Disney also had a small uncredited role as Dorcas, a young friend of Johnny and Priscilla (who in the novel was one of Priscilla's sisters).

Educational films[edit]

Portions of Johnny Tremain were used in 1968 for educational purposes. Two distinct sequences of the films were re-issued under the titles The Boston Tea Party and The Shot Heard ‘Round the World.[2] Both were originally shown on Disney´s anthology TV series in 1958.[3]


After the movie was released, Walt Disney intended to build Liberty Street in Disneyland as an annex to Main Street USA. However, the project never materialized. After Walt's death, the concept was revived and turned into the much more expansive Liberty Square in Walt Disney World, which opened on October 1, 1971.

A Southern Live Oak tree found on the Disney property (originally six miles from the Magic Kingdom) was transplanted by Disney engineers and now serves as the square's Liberty Tree. Adorning it are 13 lanterns, representing the original 13 American colonies.[4]

The song "Liberty Tree", with music by George Bruns and lyrics by Tom Blackburn, became familiar when the song was placed on the Disney Record album entitled "Happy Birthday and Other Holiday songs".

Louis Marx and Company released an American War of Independence playset featuring character figures of the actors in the show as a film tie-in.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Variety film review; May 1, 1957.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Wonderful World of Disney Television by Bill Cotter Supplemental material
  4. ^

External links[edit]