The Original Mickey Mouse Club Show


Mickey Mouse Club Serials: The Mystery of the Applegate Treasure

For the the Mickey Mouse Club's second season the producers wanted to have a new serial to match the success of Spin and Marty. All the stops were pulled out for this lavish (by MMC standards) retelling of the first Hardy Boys story, The Tower Treasure. Producer Bill Walsh assigned Jackson Gillis to do the adaption, with all filming to be done on the studio soundstages and lot.

In December 2006, the Disney studio issued a Treasures DVD for The Hardy Boys: Mystery of the Applegate Treasure. As with the earlier release of the Spin and Marty DVD, there is a certain loss of nostalgia attendent to having the complete work available for viewing on demand. Memory is trumped by a silvery disc, the taut thriller of yesterday is revealed as a mild, plodding mystery, but the opening theme song clip is still great after fifty years.


Synopsis

Frank and Joe Hardy are spending the summer in Bayport with their Aunt Gertrude, while their detective father works in the city. Their young friend, Iola Morton, bumps into a strange boy named Perry Robinson, and spills the contents of her purse on the sidewalk. Later, she is knocked down and has her purse stolen while crossing the Applegate estate. After finding her purse nearby, the boys check out the Applegate estate, only to be stopped by a menacing man named Jackly. When Perry Robinson appears, the boys confront him, only to be interrupted by the mercurial Silas Applegate. Jackly, a plumber doing work for Applegate, urges the boys to come back that evening and search Perry's room while he takes his meal with someone named Sanders. Later, Fenton Hardy tells his sister Gertrude that Sanders is the county juvenile officer, and that Perry is on probation from reform school.

When the boys and Jackly search Perry's room they find some tools that Jackly claims are his. Perry sees them from the window and runs away, knocking over Applegate. The police and Fenton Hardy search for Perry on the Applegate estate, but Joe finds him first. Perry gives Joe a gold coin, which Iola had scooped up by accident into her purse when they collided earlier that day. Before giving up to the police, Perry tells Joe to hide the coin for him, and that he didn't steal the tools. The boys find out the coin is a Spanish dubloon, and that Applegate was rumored to have a pirate treasure. Perry phones the boys and tells them where to dig. They find someone else has also been digging in Applegate's yard. Applegate catches the boys, but then invites them in to look at his treasure chest. As the boys leave, they are scared by finding a footprint. They drop their tools and run home. A mysterious figure in a striped shirt and flat cap finds their tools and digs numerous holes in the yard, leaving the tools in plain sight. The boys are blamed for the holes. Grounded, they convince Iola to recover the tools that night.

That evening Jackly is knocked unconcious and tied up by the mysterious figure. Iola discovers Jackly, screams, and brings the boys, their father, and Applegate running. After untying Jackly, Fenton Hardy flushes out the mysterious intruder, who turns out to be Applegate's old gardener, Boles. The police arrest Boles, while the Hardys search Boles room. The landlady mentions Boles old roomate, Jenkins. When questioned, Boles is cadgy, but when Joe suggests looking at his shoes, he becomes alarmed and confesses to doing the digging for which the boys were blamed. The boys return to Boles room, where they struggle with the landlady over his shoes. The heel of one pops open revealing a note and gold coin. The landlady grabs the coin and runs, while the boys take the note. It reveals the treasure is hidden "in the wall of the old tower". Alerted by the landlady, the whole town is searching for the treasure at Applegate's tower, but nothing is found. Boles, meanwhile, stands around smirking....until he spies Jackly. Everyone leaves the Applegate estate, and the police let Boles go. The boys trail him, convinced he still knows something. They see him salute the water tower by the railyard, and realize that must be where the treasure is hidden. The boys are spotted by Jackly, who jumps Boles, then goes after the boys. The boys find the treasure, but Jackly seizes some, then falls through the rooten floor of the tower, also knocking out Boles below. The police rush over, having been inadvertently alerted by Boles himself. The serial ends with the Hardys, Iola, Perry, and Silas Applegate celebrating around the treasure chest.

Episode Guide

Episode         Orig Air Date          
                     
      An Introduction         Oct   1, 1956          
1.   A Stranger         Oct   2, 1956          
2.   A Real Case         Oct   3, 1956          
3.   The First Clue         Oct   4, 1956          
4.   The Fugitive         Oct   5, 1956          
5.   Applegate's Gold         Oct 8, 1956          
6.   Dig For Treasure         Oct 9, 1956          
7.   A Pirate's Chest         Oct 10, 1956          
8.   Boys in Trouble         Oct 11, 1956          
9.   Female Detective         Oct 12, 1956          
10. Iola's Bravery         Oct 15, 1956          
11. Footsteps in the Tower         Oct 16, 1956          
12. The Prisoner Speaks         Oct 17, 1956          
13. The Strange Confession         Oct 18, 1956          
14. A Golden Clue         Oct 19, 1956          
15. The Final Search         Oct 22, 1956          
16. The Tower Secret         Oct 23, 1956          
17. Never Say Die         Oct 24, 1956          
18. Boys in Danger         Oct 25, 1956          
19. The Tower Treasure         Oct 26, 1956          


Notes

Jackson Gillis was a first-rate writer, who had scored a hit the year before with The Adventures of Spin and Marty. Jackson had begun writing while in college during the thirties. After serving in the Army during WWII, he wrote stories and scripts for radio, then moved to doing teleplays in 1953. He was a freelancer, not a studio employee, who wrote serial episodes on assignment, while continuing to write for other television shows, like The Adventures of Superman, Lassie, and The Millionaire.

For this serial, the first Hardy Boys book published, The Tower Treasure (1927), was very liberally adapted by Jackson Gillis, retaining little of the original story. (The book itself was updated and shortened by twelve pages in 1959). Gillis later explained to Disney historian Bill Cotter that he replaced the boy's mother with Aunt Gertrude to make it more plausible for them to disobey her, however, all MMC serials used the convention of making the protagonist an orphan or part of a one parent household.

This was the only serial that had an opening song preceding the title and starring credits. Disney composer George Bruns wrote the music for Gold Dubloons and Pieces of Eight, to lyrics by Jackson Gillis. The accompanying film excerpts were from the Disney live-action film, Treasure Island (1951). The background music for the series was composed by William Lava and arranged by Buddy Baker.

The opening song and credit totalled one minute; each episode was also bisected by three minutes of commercials midway through the action. Thirty-second sponsor messages preceded and followed the serial segment, which meant that each episode had roughly ten minutes of storyline. A few episodes, starting with number eleven, had a quick repeat of the ending action from the previous day's show, lasting about forty-five seconds.

Because so much of the story occurs at night, it was decided to film the serial inside Stage 2 of the Disney Burbank studio. (The young actors who play the principal characters were limited by law to working daytime hours). The studio craftsmen constructed a set measuring 205 by 120 feet, including the old water tower, rail tracks, a full-scale billboard, and the grounds of the Applegate estate. A few exterior scenes were shot on the studio lot, the front of the animation building doubling as the Bayport Police Station. Filming began in late May or early June of 1956, and was over by July 1st.

This was the second-most successful serial made for the MMC, but it was also the most costly, due not only to the elaborate set, but also to the level of acting talent employed for the adult roles. Nearly all the supporting players, Florenz Ames, Bob Foulk, Charles Cane, Mort Mills, Francis Morris, and above all, Arthur Shields, were well-known established character actors. When the second Hardy Boys serial, The Mystery of Ghost Farm, was filmed a year later, the caliber of supporting acting talent used was definitely of a lesser scale.

Though David Stollery also tested for the part of Frank Hardy, there was little doubt it would go to his Triple R costar, Tim Considine. Tim was already becoming a teen idol, drawing large amounts of fan mail for his role as Spin Evans. For the younger Hardy brother, Joe, nine different actors were given auditions before Tommy Kirk was selected. Tom had made his MMC debut as a correspondent for a political convention that was shown as a newsreel special during the show's first season. The youthful-looking Tommy, just a year younger than Tim Considine, was actually older than most of the Mouseketeers.

The character of Iola Morton, not present in the original story, but who was Joe Hardy's girlfriend in later books of the series, was added as a wannabe girlfriend in the teleplay, in consideration of the younger age of the television actors. Supposedly, both Annette Funicello and Shelly Fabares were briefly considered for the role, however, the former was instead cast in Adventure in Dairyland, which was made at the same time as this serial. According to contemporary newspaper reports, Carole Ann Campbell was selected for the part by Walt Disney himself, after seeing her in I'll Cry Tomorrow (1955). Though she was third-billed in this serial, and was a big part of the story, Carole was given little publicity by the studio. She had a very short acting career, lasting just three years, ending in 1958.

Donald MacDonald, who played Perry Robinson, also had a short acting career, from 1952 to 1957. He started with an uncredited role in Ma and Pa Kettle at Home (1953), then appeared with Tim Considine and David Stollery in Miss Baker's Dozen (aka Her Twelve Men, 1954). He would appear in four more films and three television shows before winding up his career with an episode of The Real McCoys.

Credits

Cast



Actor         Role
Tim Considine         Frank Hardy
Tommy Kirk         Joe Hardy
Carole Ann Campbell         Iola Morton
Russ Conway         Fenton Hardy
Florenz Ames         Silas Applegate
Sarah Selby         Aunt Gertrude
Donald MacDonald         Perry Robinson
Bob Foulk         Jackley
Arthur Shields         Boles
Charles Cane         Sergeant
Francis Morris         Landlady
Dan Sturkey         Detective
Bill Henry         Policeman
Mort Mills         Policeman
Brick Sullivan         Policeman
Jess Kirkpatrick         Policeman
Don Harvey         Policeman
Unknown         Miss Snodgrass, librarian (uncredited )
Unknown         Newspaper Boy (uncredited)

Crew



Bill Walsh         Producer
Jackson Gillis         Writer (teleplay), Theme Song (lyricist)
Franklin W. Dixon1         Writer (original story)
Charles Haas         Director
Robert G. Shannon         Assistant Director
Lou Debney         Assistant to the Producer
Buddy Baker         Music
William Lava         Music
George Bruns         Theme Song (composer)
Bruce Bushman         Art Director
Marvin Aubrey Davis         Art Director
Gordon Avil, A.S.C.         Director of Photography
Walter H. Castle, A.S.C.         Director of Photography
George Nicholson         Film Editor
Ellsworth Hoagland, A.C.E.         Film Editor
Joseph S. Dietrick         Film Editor
Al Teeter         Film Editor
Robert O. Cook         Sound
Dean Thomas         Sound Mixer
Fred MacLean         Set Decorator
Chuck Keehne         Costumer
Carl Walker         Wardrobe
Dave Newell         Make-up
Lois Murray         Hair Stylist
Russ Haverick         Production Manager

1 - This was the official pseudonym used by the many authors who wrote the Hardy Boys books.

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