The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJames Neilson
Screenplay byLowell S. Hawley
Based onBy the Great Horn Spoon!
by Sid Fleischman
Produced byWalt Disney[1]
StarringRoddy McDowall
Suzanne Pleshette
Karl Malden
CinematographyEdward Colman
Edited byMarsh Hendry
Music bySongs: Score:
George Bruns
Distributed byBuena Vista Distribution
Release date
  • June 15, 1967 (1967-06-15)
Running time
110 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$1,900,000 (US/ Canada)[2]

The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin is a 1967 American Western comedy film directed by James Neilson, produced by Walt Disney Productions, starring Roddy McDowall, Suzanne Pleshette, Hermione Baddeley, and Karl Malden. The film's screenplay, by Lowell S. Hawley, was based on the novel By the Great Horn Spoon! by Sid Fleischman. The songs were written by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman and the theme song was written by Mel Leven and George Bruns, the latter of whom also composed the film's score. It was the fifth and final film Neilson directed for Disney.


In 1849, Jack and Arabella Flagg are orphaned in Boston. Along with family's former butler, Eric Griffin, they stow away aboard a ship bound for San Francisco, where the gold rush has begun. Eric gets work as the ship's cook.

Judge Higgins, a swindler and thief, steals a map to a gold mine belonging to Quentin Bartlett, an actor who is among the ship's passengers. Eric, Jack, and Quentin pursue the crooked judge. Arabella arrives in town and takes a job in a dance hall to make ends meet.

Eric encounters a stocky bully, Mountain Ox, and lashes out a punch that flattens him. "Bullwhip" becomes his new nickname. Inspired by the incident, Bullwhip enters a prizefighting match and wins the money. He also wins Arabella's affection. Judge Higgins, caught trying to steal the fight's receipts, quivers behind bars as a lynch mob forms outside. The ensuing riot causes a fire that burns down much of the town, but Bullwhip uses his prizefighting winnings to rebuild the town better than before, making him a local hero.


Tony Hancock was cast in this film but was sacked during production due to his erratic behaviour. He was replaced by Richard Haydn.[3]


Howard Thompson of The New York Times graded the film as "Okay, no more", adding that "as a Western spoof, the picture is slow, overdrawn and tame to the point of gentility. Surely young Disney fans wouldn't have cringed at some slambang, Gold Rush vigor, plus a little 'Ruggles of Red Gap' flavoring."[4] Arthur D. Murphy of Variety called the film "a lively, entertaining comedy spoof of the California Gold Rush era. Zesty direction, wild performances, firstrate production values and broad comedy angles make this Walt Disney production particularly strong for all age audiences."[5] Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times wrote: "Everyone turns in winning performances, but they don't get much help from Lowell S. Hawley's routine script, which too often emphasizes dialog at the expense of action, or from James Neilson's equally pedestrian direction."[6] The Monthly Film Bulletin stated: "A pity that some scenes are played for more than they are worth, but there's enough liveliness here to keep all but the most sophisticated youngsters happy."[7]

The film holds a score of 43% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 7 reviews.[8]

Edits by Disney+

When the film was released on Disney+, it was "edited for content". When Jack is pulled out of the river after Judge Higgins tries to rob his money belt, Jack tells the captain "There's a big man dressed as a Coolie, but it's Judge Higgins and he tried to rob me" and the captain replies "Round up all the Coolies, and take 'em to the wheel house". Disney+ overdubbed the lines to "There's a big man dressed as some others, but it's Judge Higgins and he tried to rob me" and "Round up all the men, and take 'em to the wheel house".[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ "The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. American Film Institute. Retrieved December 10, 2020.
  2. ^ "Big Rental Films of 1967", Variety, 3 January 1968 p 25. Please note these figures refer to rentals accruing to the distributors.
  3. ^ "The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin (1967) - IMDb". IMDb.
  4. ^ Thompson, Howard (March 9, 1967). "Bullwhip Griffin". The New York Times. 43.
  5. ^ Murphy, Arthur D. (March 1, 1967). "Film Reviews: The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin". Variety. p 6, 13.
  6. ^ Thomas, Kevin (March 17, 1967). "'Bullwhip Griffin' in Multiple Engagement". Los Angeles Times. Part IV, p. 14.
  7. ^ "The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin". The Monthly Film Bulletin. 35 (408): 7. January 1968.
  8. ^ "The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved April 15, 2019.