ALAN Keeling has always been a fan of Patrick McGoohan, ever since the days of Danger Man, and as a tribute to the great actor who recently passed away, he has sent us the following about McGoohan as The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh ...
"In the '50s and '60s Walt Disney Productions filmed a number of great adventures, such as Rob Roy, Kidnapped, Davy Crockett, Treasure Island, and Swiss Family Robinson to name but a few, all based on best selling novels by legendary novelists such as Robert Louis Stevenson. Whether they were filmed for TV or cinema, the Disney organisation made them looked rather special.
And this was indeed the case for a 3 part mini series that was filmed exclusively in England for Disney's Wonderful World of Colour. The hour long episodes were entitled The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh, and made Patrick McGoohan's name famous on US TV for the first time. Before becoming Danger Man (1959/60) McGoohan had played a whole host of character parts in '50s TV programmes, including The Adventures of Aggie, The Vise, and The Adventures of Sir Lancelot, and production of the scarecrow commenced in 1963, a year before the second series of I.T.C.'s Danger Man.
"The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh was set in the south-east of England in the late 1770s, a story based on two novels, The Further Adventures of Doctor Syn by Russell Thorndike, and Christopher Syn by William Buchanan. McGoohan played a mild mannered minister by day, but at night he became the scarecrow, a cross between Robin Hood and the Scarlet Pimpernel. Wearing a rather frightening mask he was the leader of a gang of smugglers who stole British government supplies to give to the poor and needy. As a result he was loved by the poor but sought by the government at every opportunity. Unfortunately this mini series was never shown on British TV, but an edited version was compiled into a 90 minute feature film and released in cinemas country wide under the title, Dr Syn - Alias The Scarecrow, in support of Disney's 1964 animated film, The Sword in the Stone. So if Bugle readers did get the chance to see the late, great Patrick McGoohan as the Scarecrow, it would have been at the local picture house.
"To work for the Disney organisation was a feather in any actor's cap, and every TV series or movie made by them boasted a wealth of guest star talent. In The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh, George Cole played Mipps, who was Syn's assistant by day and masked partner by night. Others in the mini series included Tony Britton, Kay Walsh, Michael Hordern, Geoffrey Keen, Patrick Wymark, and Percy Herbert, all filmed in fabulous Technicolor."