It seems pretty obvious that Walt Disney was a fan of the Wild West and the American Frontier. When he built Disneyland, he even made sure that he included a Frontierland section in the park which comprises of attractions inspired by folk legends like the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, the Mark Twain Riverboat and Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island.
With the release of Disney's new streaming service, Disney Plus, we now have access to some of the best old classic films centered around the Old West and classic American heroes. In case you thought the app was just full of Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast, think again. There are a ton of old favorites that you forgot were in the vault, like Escape to Witch Mountain, the original Parent Trap, Bedknobs and Broomsticks and more.
Here are six of the best classic films on Disney Plus about American heroes you can stream today.
1. Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier
This 1995 film directed by Norman Foster was actually just compiling three episodes from the popular Walt Disney miniseries about the folk hero and his coonskin cap -- Davy Crockett Indian Fighter, Davy Crockett Goes to Congress and Davy Crockett at the Alamo. Fess Parker stars as the famous frontiersman with Buddy Ebsen (Jed Clampett in The Beverly Hillbillies) playing his best friend George Russell. The film begins with the duo going off to fight for Major Tobias Norton (William Bakewell) and future president Andrew Jackson (Basil Ruysdael) in the Creek Indian War before heading to Congress. You'll see Crockett's short-lived political career with the House of Representatives that he gives up to protect the Native Americans' land.
The film ends with Crockett, Russell, Jim Bowie (Kenneth Tobey), and William Travis (Don Megowan) heading to San Antonio, Texas for their last stand against the Mexican Army in the historic Battle of the Alamo. The series was filmed in Tennessee as well as California. Folk group The Wellingtons sang the popular theme song "The Ballad of Davy Crockett."
2. Davy Crockett and the River Pirates
Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier was so popular that Disney decided to make a prequel film. This was a compilation of the last two episodes of the TV series, but it was also released in theaters. Crockett and his friend Russell meet Mike Fink (Jeff York) who was known as "king of the keelboaters." He challenges the friends in a race to New Orleans in exchange for passage downriver. After getting dropped downriver they get captured by pirates masquerading as a Chickasaw hunting party. These aren't exactly the pirates you'd imagine from films like Treasure Island, but it's an exciting adventure!
3. Tall Tale
This 1995 adventure film follows a young farmer in 1905, Daniel Hackett (Nick Stahl). As a child, his father would tell him "tall tales" of American legends like Pecos Bill, Paul Bunyan and John Henry, but Daniel didn't believe they really existed. When his father gets injured and their farm is in jeopardy, Daniel runs away to his father's boat, afraid of what the future holds. When he wakes up, he encounters cowboy Pecos Bill (Patrick Swayze), lumberjack Paul Bunyan (Oliver Platt), and former slave John Henry (Roger Aaron Brown), who all teach Daniel the importance of folk heroes and standing up for what is right.
4. The Castaway Cowboy
James Garner plays Texas rancher Lincoln Costain in this 1974 film. Costain gets "shanghaied" in San Francisco and decides to jump ship to escape a life as a sailor. After he washes ashore in Kauai, Hawaii, he meets widow Henrietta MacAvoy (Vera Miles) and her son who are struggling farmers. So Costain decides to bring his cattle ranching ways of Texas to the Hawaiin people.
5. The Apple Dumpling Gang and The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again
Don Knotts starred in his fair share of Disney films during his time, but these comedy westerns starring Knotts and Tim Conway as goofy former thieves Theodore and Amos will always be classics. While they aren't officially American heroes, it's safe to say that they have cemented themselves as two of the funniest characters in the Old West.
6. The Sign of Zorro
Masked avenger Don Diego returns back to his home in Old California after time spent abroad in Spain. While he appears to be an aristocrat during the day, he becomes legendary at night as he fights the evil dictator Monastario, the ruler of Los Angeles. This 1960 film stars Guy Williams as the hero Zorro, the same actor who brought the character to life in the Disney television series, Zorro.