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Davy Crockett
and the River Pirates
Davy Crockett and the River Pirates.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byNorman Foster
Written byTom Blackburn
Norman Foster
Produced byBill Walsh
CinematographyBert Glennon
Edited byStanley Johnson
Music by
Color processTechnicolor
Distributed byBuena Vista Film Distribution Co., Inc.
Release date
  • July 18, 1956 (1956-07-18)
Running time
81 minutes
CountryUnited States

Davy Crockett and the River Pirates is a 1956 American Western film produced by Walt Disney Productions. A prequel to Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier, it was thought as a mean to salvage revenue from the blunder of Disney killing off the Davy Crockett character too soon within the three program arc ending in the Alamo massacre, greatly diminishing the value that could’ve been derived from what surprisingly had exploded into a worldwide phenomenon. The feature film is an edited, repurposed and recut compilation of the last two episodes of the Davy Crockett television miniseries.[1] Episodes from the miniseries with footage from the film include: Davy Crockett's Keelboat Race and Davy Crockett and the River Pirates. The film stars Fess Parker as Davy Crockett and Buddy Ebsen as Crockett's amiable sidekick.[2]

The film was shot in Cave-In-Rock, Illinois. The release takes place prior to the events of the previous movie, which consists of the first three episodes of the Davy Crockett miniseries.


Keelboat Race

Tennessee frontiersman Davy Crockett and his best friend Georgie Russell are transporting pelts to Maysville, Kentucky after a successful season of trapping and hunting. On the Ohio River, they encounter Mike Fink, the self-proclaimed "king of the river". Fink refuses to take Crockett and Russell downriver on his keelboat unless they pay his toll, which they cannot afford.

Fink challenges Crockett and Russell to a keelboat race to New Orleans, with the pelts and Fink's title as the stakes. Crockett uses his celebrity to organize his own keelboat crew for the race, which he wins despite numerous obstacles and Fink's cheating. Crockett allows Fink to keep his title, and Fink graciously gives him and Russell a ride downriver for free.

River Pirates

Fink drops Crockett and Russell off along the river, where they seek out Chickasaw traders to buy horses from. A Chickasaw hunting party captures them and takes them to their village, where they are preparing to go to war against white men for murdering Kaskaskia tribesmen. Crockett and Russell, having witnessed an earlier attack on Fink's keelboat but being told the Kaskaskia were driven out of the area prior, deduce that the attackers are in fact pirates masquerading as Native Americans. Crockett and Russell agree to bring the pirates to justice in exchange for peace and are released.

Fink agrees to help Crockett and Russell by posing as a banker hauling Spanish gold and stopping at various towns along the Ohio River to brag in order to draw the pirates out. The group attracts a traveling minstrel named Colonel Plug, whom Crockett agrees to take to the next town. Crockett correctly suspects Plug is in league with the pirates, led by Samuel Mason and the Harpe brothers, who are hiding at Cave-in-Rock. Plug notifies the pirates of the gold through song, but is subdued when he discovers the ruse. The pirates attack, but Fink's crew defends the boat successfully. Crockett and Russell pursue Mason and the Harpe brothers to their cave hideout, where they subdue the Harpe brothers. A keg of gunpowder explodes, sealing the cave and killing Mason. Having made peace, Crockett and Russell again part ways with Fink and head for home.





Common Sense Media has given it a 3 out of 5 stars.[4]


  1. ^ Chemerka, William R. (2011). Fess Parker: TV's Frontier Hero. BearManor Media. ISBN 9781593932107.
  2. ^ Anderson, Paul F. (1996). The Davy Crockett Craze: A Look at the 1950's Phenomenon and Davy Crockett Collectibles. R & G Productions. ISBN 978-0-9640338-1-8.
  3. ^ Österberg, Bertil O. (January 16, 2018). Colonial America on Film and Television: A Filmography. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-5058-9.
  4. ^ "Davy Crockett and the River Pirates Movie Review | Common Sense Media". Common Sense Media. Retrieved December 14, 2022.