Robbins Barstow's spectacular amateur films

A couple weeks ago, I blogged about the wonderful amateur film of a family's 1956 prize-trip to Disneyland made by Robbins Barstow of Wethersfield, Connecticut. Robbins just got in touch with me to tell me a little more about his decades-long love of film, supplying a link to a treasure trove of his fantastic work stretching all the way back to this 1936 Tarzan fan-film:
I am the now-88-year-old filmmaker from Wethersfield, Connecticut, who filmed, directed, edited, and narrated the amateur home movie entitled "Disneyland Dream" which you Boing-Boinged on April 11, 2008. I was delighted to be described as the "skinny, dorky, goofy dad" who documented our contest-winning family vacation to Disneyland in 1956, because our aim was to make the film "pure gold" fun for everyone viewing it. So far (April 19) it has garnered 15,777 downloads from the web site, thanks to your posting of the link! This is incredibly phenomenal to all of our still life-loving family, and I want to thank you for your fabulous review and letting the world know about it.

I am a retired educator, but all my life I have been an ardent amateur filmmaker, starting at the age of 12, in 1932, making family chronicles, travelogs, and other documentaries. I am submitting on your posted form another link which I think you will also enjoy -- a teen-age, fictional, Tarzan story which I made in 1936 with my two younger brothers and some neighborhood girls -- "Tarzan and the Rocky Gorge."

Actually, if you go to on the internet, and search for "Barstow Travel Adventure," you will find a listing of 8 of my personal travel documentaries, including Disneyland and Tarzan, which can be played anytime by anyone.

Link (Thanks, Robbins!)



  1. This is great. I’m trying to fight a urge to go back again to wdw and this is not helping at all. Seriously I should have watch before.

  2. Charming, yes. Nostalgia inducing, yes. A fascinating document of a moment in time and a particular culture? You betcha!

    Spectacular? Not quite.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing your film archives with all of us, Robbins!

    While you put so much planning and creativity into these films, you must have thought your audience would never stretch beyond your family and friends. How thrilling it must be to suddenly see them become globally popular through a medium that didn’t even exist at the time!

  4. Seriously, how goddamn cool is this? When he made this, the chances of this ever being seen outside of a very small circle of family and friends was near zero. And here we are, in a time where millions and millions of people will have access to in the present and future.


  5. Robbins is a true gentleman. I shot him a quick ‘thank you’ email after watching ‘Tarzan and the Rocky Gorge’, and we have been speaking ever since. He’s witty, self-deprecating, and just plain fun. His films are wonderful.

  6. As the 88-year-old amateur home movie maker from Wethersfield, Connecticut, whose films have recently been Boing Boinged (“Disneyland Dream” – 1956, and “Tarzan and the Rocky Gorge” – 1936), I have been trying to figure out how to respond personally to some of the comments posted for discussion.

    Re “Keep ’em coming, Robbins!” I am doing so via “” where eight more of my films now can be played by searching for “Barstow Travel Adventure.” One of them, “Touring Paris with Two Grandchildren” (1992), offers a follow-up on the Barstow family and how the children have fared in life, when we all had a reunion in Paris celebrating Meg’s and my 50th Anniversary.

    For direct contact and email correspondence, use:

  7. Robbins is a fun person to talk with, no question. I interviewed him a few years ago about the Tarzan movie for a book I did on fan films (“Homemade Hollywood”), and we’ve been in contact ever since.

    He made a sequel/remake to “Tarzan and the Rocky Gorge” in 1974 (38 years later!), called “Tarzan and the Lost, Last Whale.” By then, everyone in his family had grown up and had their own kids. It’s a hoot to watch, seeing how they’d changed, and how the story was altered to fit the more Peace-focused times (rather than shoot the hero like in “Rocky Gorge,” Slinkaround pegs him with an orange, for instance). BadKittyM is right on the money: His films are wonderful.

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