In Disney’s version of Stevenson’s classic, a boy with a treasure map befriends a pirate on a voyage with a mutinous crew.
In 1765 near the English coast young Jim Hawkins (Bobby Driscoll) serves a drink to a man with a scarred face, and then a blind man threatens Captain Billy Bones (Finlay Currie). Ailing Bones gives Jim a paper and sends him for a doctor. Dr. Livesey (Denis O’Dea) says Bones died of shock. Jim shows the map to Squire Trelawney (Walter Fitzgerald), who plans to sail for the treasure.
Trelawney says he hired one-legged Long John Silver (Robert Newton) as sea-cook. Silver offers to get a crew. Jim sees scarred Black Dog again, but he runs off.
Silver comes aboard with the crew. Captain Smollett (Basil Sydney) does not like the crew and has the fire-arms locked up. George Merry (Ralph Truman) is caught with a hidden gun, and Smollett warns him. Jim has a pistol that Silver gave him. Silver throws Merry’s hidden knife in the sea. Silver gets Jim to ask Trelawney for rum. Silver uses it to get Arrow (David Davies) drunk, and he falls overboard and drowns.
Jim overhears Silver plotting mutiny. Jim tells Smollett, Trelawney, and Livesey, and they arm their men. Jim goes in a boat with Silver. Merry starts the mutiny, but they are quickly captured. Silver holds Jim hostage, but on shore Jim runs off and hides. Jim finds marooned old Ben Gunn (Geoffrey Wilkinson). They see Silver coming ashore. Pirates overcome the guards, free the mutineers, and take over the ship. Israel Hands (Geoffrey Keen) persuades Silver not to put Merry in irons.
Jim joins Smollett, Trelawney, and Livesey in a stockade. Silver comes to talk and asks for Flint’s map while Smollett asks them to surrender. They do not agree, and a battle begins. The mutineers retreat, and Silver wounds Smollett in the chest. Livesey gives the map to Jim.
At night Jim takes a small boat to the ship. He sees a man killed by a knife. Jim avoids the killer Hand by climbing the rigging, and then he pulls out his pistol. Hand wounds Jim with a knife and is killed by Jim. He takes down the pirate flag and raises the Union Jack. Jim goes ashore and finds Silver in the stockade before passing out.
Silver takes the map and helps Jim over Merry’s objection. Silver calls the doctor. Merry and the crew depose Silver, who says they must trade Jim for the map. Silver takes Jim to Dr. Livesey, who treats Jim’s wound. Jim says Silver saved his life. Silver says he will protect Jim if Livesey will testify for him later. They agree, and Silver gives the map to the crew.
The crew follows the map and starts digging. Silver and Livesey shoot the crew. Ben Gunn says the treasure is in his cave and shows it to them. Smollett orders Silver arrested. In the boat Silver grabs Jim’s pistol, and the others jump out of the boat. Silver leaves Jim on land and alone puts up a sail. Dr. Livesey says he hopes he will make it.
This adventure tale allows the audience to experience danger and excitement vicariously without suffering harm from the perspective of a brave boy. Even the selfish pirate Silver has a heart and protects the vulnerable boy, but many find that the violence they do to others rebounds on themselves.