Review: The Ballad of Davy Crockett


“Be sure you’re right and then go ahead! It’s up to you, to do, as Davy Crockett said.” This was the theme song from Disney’s 1955-56 Davy Crockett TV series at a time when Dwight Eisenhower was president, the Supreme Court ruled segregated buses were illegal, church attendance was 73 percent and there was hope.

This new rendition of the Crockett legend, “The Ballad of Davy Crockett,” also reveals a similar Crockett with a gravitation toward doing what’s right, though this time with a keener focus on a looming dark time in the nation.

The film opens with Crockett at the Old Capitol Building in Washington DC with a select group of men whom Andrew Jackson demands sign the Indian Removal Act before it is introduced to Congress. Just as it comes to Crockett to sign, a messenger interrupts the meeting with an urgent message from Polly, Crockett’s wife, that he needs to return home immediately.

Despite pressure from Jackson to stay, Crocket signs the document and hurriedly rushes out to ride home. He has left his family in a primitive shack with no close neighbors for a good amount of time. It seems his young sons don’t know how to hunt, fish, or chop wood, so while mom lies sick and incapacitated, the family is starving.

The Good

William Moseley does a Matthew McConaughey-like characterization endearing us to Crockett. He depicts a man who learns quickly, is kind, and values family above all. He sees situations clearly and justly, as when an Indian who had been following him, is surrounded by white guys about to kill him for no reason other than perhaps because killing Indians is their sport. After Crockett aims fire, he and the Indian rush off together to elude the rest of the crazy white gang.

Crockett typifies the kind of man we would like to believe built America and made it great.

The Capitalists

The sobering part of “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” reveals the bad guys in early America, the opportunists, the money-consumed who will cross any line, including kidnapping Crockett’s children for slave labor. Derek Estlin Purvis, the writer/director, has got this part right. There were early capitalists capable of savage acts and the head fur trader, excellently played by Colm Meaney, epitomizes that.

Juxtaposed to the cut-throat fur trade industry, Crocket is schooled in who the real savages are and rethinks Andrew Jackson’s pressure to sign The Indian Removal Act.

Suspended Reality

In the scenes of uncanny revival and survival, there is some comic book unreality. For instance, Crockett rips out a wooden spear-like object from his thigh, ties the wound with a pelt from an animal he kills, and then miraculously heals in no time. To add to the unreality, he suddenly tames a wild horse and gallops off into the distance.

Crockett’s life in this film and others, including the famous Disney tv series, starring Fess Parker, “Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier,” have fictionalized him into a legend to the point that we’re not sure what is true and what is not.


“The Ballad of Davy Crockett” is obviously a wishful riff on a legend about an early American. The real story is more complicated, being that Davy, purportedly a family man, leaves his family at risk for great lengths of time to fight in armies, including his last stand at the Alamo.

But central to the film is Crockett’s position on the Indian Removal Act, and Purvis’s excellent depiction of just what savage means and who deserves the nomenclature.

I’m not an historical buff and I’m not going to research the times in the film where the film may have diverged from historical record. Instead, Purvis should receive some grace for reviving the already long-fictionalized legendary hero. This short segment of Crockett’s life, however real or imaginary, reminds us that family and integrity are more important than position or power. Capitalism, without compassion, only leads to its own defeat.


Written and directed by Derek Estlin Purvis
Producers: Michael Mailer and Derek Estlin Purvis
Starring: William Moseley, Colm Meaney, Jesse Hutch, Valerie Jane Parker and Aija Terauda

Released: March 8, 2024
Starring: William Moseley, Colm Meaney, Jesse Hutch, Valerie Jane Parker and Aija Terauda
Rent/Buy: Prime Video

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