Johnny Tremain (1957)


Made by Walt Disney Productions, Johnny Terrain is a 1957 film released by Buena Vista Distribution. The movie was based on a 1944 novel of the same name by Esther Forbes, re-telling the story of the years in Boston, Massachusetts before the American Revolution took place. Johnny Tremain was Disney’s first live-action film directed by Robert Stevenson. 

Although it was made for television but released to theatres. The film received mixed reviews from the critics and achieved quite a bit of success considering its $700,000 budget. Let’s take a look at what the movie was about. 


The movie is based on Johnny Tremain being apprenticed to Mr. Lapham who is a silversmith by profession. One day, a wealthy individual by the name of Jonathan Lyte asks Mr. Lapham to make a sugar basin to match his set of silverware. 

However, Lapham refuses saying that he is too old for such jobs. Meanwhile, Tremain believes that he is skilled enough to do the job and accepts it. Upon trying multiple times and failing, he asks fellow silversmith Paul Revere to help design a new handle. Revere in return tells him to make the handle larger and deeper. 

Tremain being overexcited and eager breaks the Sabbath and burns his hand. The burn was so severe that the hand could not be used again. As a result, he would have to forget being a silversmith apprentice. Since Tremain had only one usable hand, no one would hire him. Then, the Sons of Liberty hire him as a messenger to inform members of the locations and times of the meetings secretly. 

Tremain reveals to the daughter of Mr. Lapham, Priscilla Lamphan that he is secretly involved with Mr. Lyte. To prove, he shows her the christening cup featuring the Lyte family crest as evidence. Tremain is desperate for money and approaches Lyte while presenting the christening cup. Lyte as a result accuses Tremain of stealing the cup. Josiah Quincy defends Tremain in the court and Priscilla acts as a witness. They manage to prove Johnny’s innocence. 

Afterward, Tremain and the Sons of Liberty come close to being active in several notable events such as the American Revolution and Boston Tea Party. At the Boston Tea Party, Dr. Joseph Warren offers Tremain to restore his hand so that he could return to his profession. 


While the film was being produced, Walt Disney planned to build Liberty Street in Disneyland. However, the project never materialized. After the death of Walt Disney, the concept was revived and a much more expansive Liberty Square in Walt Disney World was opened. 

Final Word

Although Johnny Tremain was a moderate success as compared to the rest of the Disney movies but the character is still considered close to being an icon. It played a huge role in showcasing the important events leading to the American Revolution and other significant events. The movie might be a bit dry for the kids at the time but it settled well amongst the adults who praised Johnny Tremain as a character.

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