Johnny Tremain is a 1957 film made by Walt Disney Productions, 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. It was directed by Robert Stevenson. It was made for television, then ultimately released to theatres, and finally wound up on television a year after that, on the Walt Disney anthology television series. It was shown on television in two episodes rather than as a complete film on a single evening. The song "Liberty Tree", with music by George Bruns and lyrics by Tom Blackburn, became familiar when it was placed on the Disney Record album entitled "Happy Birthday and Other Holiday songs".
Johnny Tremain is an arrogant and exceptionally skilled apprentice silversmith to Mr. Lapham, who dreams of one day owning his own shop and becoming wealthy and respected. All of this is abruptly taken from him when his hand is badly burned in a silver accident. He ends up joining the Sons of Liberty in the movement for American independence. Along the way he befriends several historical giants including Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, and Joseph Warren. The story reaches its climax with the start of the American Revolution and the actions taken by so many notable figures of the time to lead a young America into her first battles.
Hal Stalmaster as Johnny Tremain
Jeff York as James Otis
Sebastian Cabot as Jonathan Lyte
Richard Beymer as Rab Silsbee
Walter Sande as Paul Revere
Whit Bissell as Josiah Quincy
Rusty Lane as Samuel Adams
Walter Coy as Dr. Joseph Warren
Will Wright as Mr. Lapham
Virginia Christine as Mrs. Lapham
Ralph Clanton as General Gage
Geoffrey Toone as Major Pitcairn
Portions of the film were used in 1968 for educational purposes. Two distant sequence of the films were issued under the titles of The Boston Tea Party and The Shot Heard ‘Round the World.
After the film was released, Walt Disney intended to build Liberty Street at Disneyland as an annex to Main Street USA. However, the project was never materialized. Years later, after his death, the concept was revived and turned into the much more expansive Liberty Square at Walt Disney World, which opened on October 1, 1971.
Furthermore, an elm tree found on the Disney property (originally 6 miles from where the Magic Kingdom is located) was moved and transplanted by Disney engineers and now serves as the Liberty Tree. Adorning it are 13 lanterns, representing the original 13 colonies.
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.