My most favorite of all Halloween specials was Walt Disney's Scarecrow of Romney Marsh. This Disney Event was an adaptation of a series of English stories featuring "Doctor Syn," aka Christopher Syn -- a Vicar by day, and the fearsome Scarecrow by night. The Scarecrow series of novels was written by Russell Thorndike.

The idea for the story came from true smuggling tales of the Romney Marsh region of England's Kent/Sussex coast. the Romney Marsh in the 18th century. The stories take place in 1775. In the Disney version, the Scarecrow/ Reverend Syn character is played with maniacal relish by Patrick McGoohan. This was by far my favorite of Patrick's movies. My second favorite was The Three Lives of Thomasina.

We waited all week for another episode of Scarecrow to air on NBC. This was an early incarnation of the Mini-series. This show seems a bit tame by today's standards but the Scarecrow's laugh and the foggy mist across the English countryside are still really spooky to me.

Patrick McGoohan played Dr. Christopher Syn, the mild-mannered innocent vicar of the small village of Dymchurch, England. Little do the villagers know that by night he doubles as The Scarecrow, the leader of a ruthless gang of smugglers (many of whom, like The Scarecrow himself, don menacing masks to hide their faces) who’ve been importing brandy illegally and reselling it to help the townsfolk pay the outlandish taxes imposed by the greedy King.

Naturally, when His Highness hears of these unlawful activities, he sends out his soldiers and Naval pressgangs to put a stop to The Scarecrow, regardless of the fact that he is a hero of sorts to the people of Dymchurch and his shady deeds are the only thing keeping the town afloat.

Will the clever Dr. Syn be able to continue his covert criminal operation for the benefit of the people while safely concealing himself and the identities of his accomplices all under the watchful eye of the ever-present King’s men?


Fast Film said...

Patrick McGoohan is godhead in our household. He could have coasted as generic handsome leading man, yet his choices made his career immortal.

Few realize today exactly how iconoclastic "The Prisoner" was because it has held up so well, especially given our increasing realizations that paranoia was justified.

And I didn't know until recently that his last tv series was a template for "House M.D.," about a cynical medical diagnostician.

Sherry Hunt said...

This was one of my husband's favorite Halloween characters (his other was the Headless Horseman.) His Mom made him a costume like the Scarecrow and he won the contest at school in the 60's.

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