“Ten Who Dared”~1960

Ten Who Dared

Ten Who Dared is one of those old Walt Disney films that has long been forgotten by most folks. And while it is nothing exceptional, like his outstanding Davy Crockett movies, it is nonetheless a classic Disney retelling of history.

Ten Who Dared#2The story takes place out west in the Colorado area and tells the tale of John Wesley Powell and his daring expedition down the Colorado River. Ten men went on the journey. Some of them didn’t live to tell the tale.

John WesleyPowellThe film is narrated by John Beal (the man who plays Powell’s part) reading from John Wesley Powell’s real journal of the event.

Ten Who Dared #5Walt Disney picked some of the good old western actors to play the men in this film including the great Brian Keith playing an old mountain man who growls out when asked why he’s going on the expedition: “so’s I can get away from people”. 🙂

Brian KeithHis growling, grunting, running commentary during the fist-fight scene always gets a smile on my face, being the Brian Keith fan I am.

James Drury Ten Who DaredJames Drury plays Walter Powell, John Wesley Powell’s moody younger brother with a chip on his shoulder and hard feelings for George Bradley.

Ben JohnsonGeorge Bradley (Ben Johnson!) is a southern veteran who is good-humored, friendly, and ready to meet everyone halfway.

L.Q. JonesAdd to that L. Q. Jones as the cook. Not to mention Stan Jones, the songwriter of bunches of Disney songs (The Great Locomotive Chase, Westward Ho The Wagons), songs from John Wayne films, and his famous “Ghost Riders In The Sky”piece, who comes along on the trip as “Seneca”– with his guitar of course.


Ten Who Dared #7For any James Drury fans, aside from seeing him play a very different role than usual, you get to hear him singing snatches of “John Brown’s Body” and join in with Ben Johnson on “Roll Along”. Every one joins in on “Ten Jolly Rovers” (one of those “cheerfully ominous” songs sung in a rollicking fashion, where the number “ten” goes down a digit verse by verse as folks perish!).

James Drury Ben JohnsonThis film was made in 1960, 2 years before James Drury landed the role as The Virginian. Those two years, added to his mustache and all of the other little details, make him look very different in 1960 vs. 1962, the year I portrayed him as when I drew his portrait as The Virginian.

James DruryAs an artist who studied his face and head in detail when I was working on his portrait, it is interesting to see all the little things they did which give him such a vastly changed appearance visually, without ever having to alter the underlying bone and basic structure of the head.

Ten Who Dared #6Back to the story…Eventually greed, distrust, whiskey, tensions between Yanks and Rebs, and just living together and working in close proximity with each other day by day begins to wear on the men and things start happening.


Ten Who Dared #8
This film is not particularly memorable unless, you have a predilection for the history of John Wesley Powell’s expedition or a liking for these old stars, both of which were true in my case. 🙂

Ten Who Dared #9It’s a fun film for children to spark their interest in the Colorado River and the amazing history that surrounds it. This films doesn’t have as much action as some of Walt Disney’s live-action films, but neither is it boring, it’s just a nice, slow paced jaunt through history, keeping closer to real facts than most of Disney’s films. There is also some beautiful scenery of the breathtaking canyons and rivers out west.  All in all it is a fun movie, not on my favorites list, but certainly worth keeping.

Have you seen it? What did you think?

This entry was posted in James Drury, Western Films. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to “Ten Who Dared”~1960

  1. Andrew says:

    Yes I have seen it. 🙂

    Good film. As you said, not on the favorites list, but still good. The best part I think was seeing all those great actors together.

    Love your website!

  2. Hamlette says:

    I didn’t even know this movie existed. I feel like I’ve been living under a rock. Ben Johnson AND James Drury AND Brian Kieth? AND LQ Jones? Duuuuuuuuuude. I need to see this.

    • Annie says:

      Sometimes I stumble onto a new movie and feel just like that! Not to mention I sometimes wonder why certain films are not better known…some old films just seem to slip through the cracks and become obscure. The great actors were what drew me to the film originally, it’s a fun cast!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *