December 22, 1995 – The Feature Film Tom and Huck is Released in Theaters
“I been to your funeral once, I ain’t goin’ again.”
On December 22, 1995, the feature film Tom and Huck was released to theaters. The film was based on the novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, and received mixed reviews on its release. The film was directed by Peter Hewitt, with screenplay by Stephen Sommers and David Loughery. It stars Jonathan Taylor Thomas as Tom Sawyer, Brad Renfro as Huck Finn, Eric Schweig as Injun Joe, Mike McShane as Muff Potter, and Rachael Leigh Cook as Becky Thatcher.
It’s a dark and stormy night, with a mysterious figure walking the streets of the town. The figure, who we find is Injun Joe makes his way to the town doctor, Doc Robbins; the doctor tells Joe that he has a job for him in the graveyard. Injun Joe accepts, but demands more money. Meanwhile, Tom Sawyer hears the clock alarm going off at midnight, and crawls out of bed, running away from life with his aunt Polly. He is joined by his friends, and they escape to the Mississippi River, climbing on to a raft and sailing away. Unfortunately, they hit a sharp rock in the rapids, and Tom is thrown into the river, until he is saved by a stranger. The next morning, Tom tries to sneak back home, but is caught by Aunt Polly. He is then sent to whitewash her fence as punishment for sneaking out, but tricks his friends into doing the work for him. While they all do his job, Tom runs off, running into his friend Huck Finn, who is back in town. After meeting with Huck, Tom attends school, trying to get the attention of Becky Thatcher.
Tom meets with Huck again, who informs Tom that he’s found a cure for warts, involving a dead cat and a graveyard. The two make plans to meet at the graveyard, where they accidentally stumble across Injun Joe with Doc Robbins and Muff Potter uncovering a treasure map from a grave, and watch in horror when Injun Joe murders Doc Robbins, using Muff’s knife. As Tom and Huck flee the scene, with Tom accidentally dropping his prize marble, Injun Joe spots them. Although Tom thinks they should tell the sheriff, Huck convinces him that Injun Joe will murder them if they say a word. The two write an oath and sign it in blood that they will never tell. Tom is still wracked with guilt, having nightmares that Injun Joe will find him and murder him in the night. The next day, Tom discovers that Muff Potter has been accused of murdering the doctor, with Injun Joe claiming he saw Muff do it. The trial is then set for the next day, with many in the town believing that Muff did it. Huck prevents Tom from telling anyone the truth of the murder, and Tom protests that all they need to prove Muff’s innocence without breaking their oath is the treasure map; Huck points out that the map is in Injun Joe’s pocket, and wonders why he should stick his neck out for Muff.
Later, Tom goes by the creek again and runs into Becky. The two pretend to be engaged, although Becky is furious when she finds that Tom has been engaged before. Back in town, Injun Joe is trying to find the identity if the boys in the graveyard using the marble he found, while Huck wonders if he’s doing the right thing by not telling anyone about what he’s seen. Huck agrees to try and grab the map from Injun Joe, and the two follow him, waiting for the right moment. Unfortunately, they are unable to grab the map before he finds the treasure, and he burns the map, destroying the only evidence of Muff’s innocence. While they are still wandering outside of town, they hear the church bells ring, signaling that someone has died. Injun Joe, returning to his task of finding out who saw him in the graveyard, runs across a boy who tells him that Tom Sawyer was the last to use the marble, but it no longer matters, as he is dead. Tom’s hat was apparently found in the wreckage of the raft, and the whole town believes he’s dead. Tom and Huck sneak inside the church, and Tom is amazed to see that the town misses him, and even more so when Becky announces that if she could see him just one more time, she would tell him she loves him and kiss him in front of everyone. Huck gets angry that Tom keeps up the charade, and tells him to stop making his aunt suffer and go home. With Huck pushing him, he falls through the ceiling of the church, much to the surprise of everyone.
The next day, Tom tries to find Huck, with Huck packing and leaving town. Just after Huck leaves, Injun Joe finds Tom, and taunts Tom, threatening to kill him if he says anything about who really killed the doctor. Tom then goes to the jail to see Muff, and Muff starts to cry when Tom says he believes Muff is innocent. The trial begins, with Injun Joe testifying that Muff killed the doctor while in a drunken rage. Muff’s lawyer, in a surprise move, calls Tom Sawyer to the stand. Tom hesitates in answering the questions, but when someone publicly denounces Tom as an outright liar, Tom bravely tells the whole truth of what he’d seen. Injun Joe tries to kill Tom on the stand and escapes the courtroom. Later that evening, Huck appears at Tom’s window. Huck is angry that Tom broke the oath, but warns his friend to be careful before disappearing again.
The next day is the town picnic, with Tom still nervous that Injun Joe will find him. All of the children are taken to a nearby cavern to explore, with Tom and Becky running off to a deeper part of the cavern. Huck, hiding nearby, hears that Tom and Becky haven’t gone back yet. Injun Joe, in another part of the cavern, hears them and follows the echo of their voices. The town is alarmed that Injun Joe is back in town, looking to kill Tom. As Becky and Tom try to find a way out, they come across Injun Joe, who pursues them. After helping Becky find a way out, Tom comes across the treasure chest Injun Joe was trying to bury. Injun Joe finds him, and is just about to kill him when Huck comes to the rescue. Injun Joe falls down a cavern hole trying to save his treasure, not knowing that Tom took out all the coins to trick him. Tom and Huck escape the cavern and are proclaimed heroes by the town. The Widow Douglas offers Huck a new life with her, promising him a future. Tom goes to find Huck, and sees Huck in all new clothes. Tom is surprised by this new change in Huck, but the two of them go into town together, still ready to cause a great deal of mischief for the town.