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directed by Gerald Landau
UK 1957


The holidays have finally arrived and Julian, Dick and Ann are looking forward to spending a long hot summer with their feisty tomboy cousin Georgina - or George as she prefers to be known. But picnics and bike rides are put on hold when George and her new pal Timmy the dog share the secret of a mysterious shipwreck with the others. An exciting discovery is in store for the intrepid Five - but they are not alone.

Adapted from the first of Enid Blyton's popular Famous Five stories this ripping adventure tale in eight thrilling instalments is great fun for all the family. Enid Blyton herself was on hand to cast the film which follows the Five as they investigate the secret of the wreck. Chock-full of cliff-hangers and mystery, the popular Children's Film Foundation serial remains close to the spirit of the book. With enthusiastic performances from some well-cast young actors, these are delightful films which every Famous Five fan will want to treasure.

Excerpt of review from BFI located HERE

Theatrical Release: August 1957 (UK)

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DVD Review: BFI - Region 0 - PAL

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Region 0 - PAL


1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

Audio English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
Subtitles English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: BFI

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Fully illustrated booklet with newly commissioned essay by Enid Blyton expert Norman Wright, character biographies and more

DVD Release Date: September 13th, 2010
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Despite being the son of a children's librarian, I had never heard of Enid Blyton's Famous Five series of books, which features four children and their pet dog solving mysteries a la The Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew. While I still haven't read any of them (though Gary assures me that they're quite good), I have now seen both of the serials that the BFI will soon release. Here we'll focus on the earlier of two, 1957's "Five on a Treasure Island". The serial, which is broken down into eight fifteen minute segments (which can be watched individually or back-to-back on the disc), tells the story of the origin of the team; how the three siblings met their cousin George, got their dog, and found their first treasure. The films are pure escapism, spinning the sort of yarn that young children dream of, in this case treasure hidden deep inside of an ancient castle found in rowing distance of one of their homes. There is peril in the film in the form of two treasure hunters that are willing to do whatever it takes to beat the children to the gold, but there is nothing too intense for most young viewers. In fact, there's hardly any violence to speak of. Instead, the children learn to accomplish their goals by using their wits and cooperating with one another. It's really just about perfect for younger adventure lovers and those of us who haven't lost the itch for a good thrill with age.

The picture here is generally quite strong with an occasional soft shot or two, but this is certainly the way that the films were intended to look. The grain is strong and there is remarkably little print damage and no signs of artifacts. The contrast between the blacks and whites is very rich and, well, this is even better looking than one might have hoped.


The film is mastered in a Dolby mono track that while it won't knock your boots off, more than adequately does the job. Dialogue is clear and background noises sound fairly crisp as well. There are no discernible unwanted background noises (hisses, pops, etc.) and the disc sports optional English subtitles. What's more, it's region free.

The only extra that comes with the set is a booklet that features essays on the serial, Blyton, the Children's Film Foundation, and character biographies.

Both this and "Five Have a Mystery to Solve" are the latest in a long line of wonderful discoveries that I've had thanks to the work of the BFI. The serial is tremendously entertaining and, as I previously said, perfect for young children that can appreciate the beauty of black and white film. This is very highly recommended and if you have a young adventure loving child, then this is an essential disc to own.

  - Brian Montgomery


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