Dr. Syn: Alias the Scarecrow
Synopsis of Movie
“Thief! Liar! Convicted by your own words!”
There are some images that live in the memory for years, long after the context has all but disappeared. This is especially true for childhood, where it’s often difficult to separate that which was dream from that which was real.
Take, for example, being six or seven and watching a scene in which a man dressed as a scarecrow with a frighteningly curled mouth flanked by another man with the head of an eagle threatens to hang yet another man from the center beam of a barn? Would that stick? We think so.
On occasion, momentary glimpses of that face would visit you in the night, haunting your head with horrible visions of the Scarecrow of Romney Marsh.
Such is the effect of Walt Disney’s Dr. Syn: Alias the Scarecrow. Ironically, the scarecrow in the story—played by Patrick McGoohan before his roles in Secret Agent and The Prisoner—isn’t meant as a terrifying figure. Instead, McGoohan plays a real life 18th Century English pastor named Dr. Syn. Respectable citizen by day and rogue smuggler by night, Dr. Syn is bent on re-distributing the royal wealth to the poor commoners of his Romney Marsh parish, where the excessive taxes of King George keep everyone in poverty.
Using a small band of peasants as an underground army, The Scarecrow plies his trade at night, smuggling goods into the town and raiding the King’s coffers. At the same time, he tries to avoid the Crown’s soldiers and vicious press gangs that wander the countryside looking to blackjack young men into the service of the Royal Navy.
Things get more complicated when an American revolutionary prisoner escapes his captors and seeks the aid of Dr. Syn. At the same time, the son of a prominent town official returns to the town AWOL from the Royal Navy after having been forced into service by a press gang. His freedom also rests in the hands of the Scarecrow of Romney Marsh. The mild-mannered pastor must carefully navigate protecting the fugitives, keeping the secret of his identity, and avoiding a traitor that threatens his nighttime ministry.
A great combination of action/adventure and historical drama fueled by McGoohan’s charismatic performance, Dr. Syn originally appeared as a four-part mini-series on Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color under the title The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh in 1962. The series was later repackaged as a feature film—now titled Dr. Syn: Alias the Scarecrow—and played on television a number of times over the course of the 1970’s. Though Disney has never released Dr. Syn on video, the film has since reached cult status and survives as one of McGoohan’s great performances.
Movie Release History1962 - Dr. Syn: Alias the Scarecrow
Movie Sub Categorieslive-action
Movie StudioWalt Disney Pictures
CastDr. Syn Patrick McGoohan General Pugh Geoffrey Keen
Joseph Ransley Patrick Wymark King George III Eric Pohlmann
Katharine Banks Jill Curzon Simon Bates Tony Britton
Harry David Buck Mr. Mipps George Cole
Mr. Frank Alan Dobie Lieutenant Philip Eric Flynn
Jailer, Dover Castle Percy Herbert Squire Banks Michael Hordern
George Richard O'Sullivan John Banks Sean Scully
Grandmother Elsie Wagstaff Mrs. Waggett Kay Walsh
Unknown Robert Brown Unknown Mark Dignam
Unknown Gordon Gostelow Unknown Simon Lack
Unknown Bruce Seton