The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin is a 1967 Technicolor drama film directed by James Neilson, based on the novel By the Great Horn Spoon by Sid Fleischman, starring Roddy McDowall, Suzanne Pleshette, and Karl Malden. Roddy McDowall plays Griffin, the very proper butler of Bostonian Jack Flagg (Bryan Russell). When Flagg runs off to California during the 1849 gold rush, Griffin dutifully tags along.


Arabella Flagg and her 14-year-old brother, Jack, are left orphaned and penniless when their grandfather dies in Boston in 1849. Determined to make his own fortune, Jack stows away aboard a ship bound for the California gold rush. He is followed by the family's very proper butler, Eric Griffin, who becomes the ship's cook. Also aboard is the nefarious Judge Higgins, a thief with a disguise for every imaginable crooked caper. As the ship approaches San Francisco, the judge steals the map of a gold mine from Quentin Bartlett, a Shakespearean actor, and sneaks ashore in the only lifeboat. Griffin, Jack, and Bartlett take pursuit and recover the map, only to find it riddled with bullet holes. Nevertheless, they strike a rich gold deposit but lose the gold in a river when the judge, disguised as a Chinese coolie, tries to steal it from them. Arabella arrives in San Francisco to look for Jack and takes a job as a dancehall singer. Griffin, now nicknamed "Bullwhip" because he accidentally knocked unconscious the town bully, "Mountain Ox," decides to enter a boxing match to earn some money. Encouraged by kisses from Arabella, Griffin wins the prize money and proposes to Arabella. The judge, disguised as a bookkeeper, tries to steal the money, but he is caught by the spectators and forced to lock himself in jail to avoid being lynched.


  • Roddy McDowall as Bullwhip Griffin
  • Suzanne Pleshette as Arabella Flagg
  • Karl Malden as Judge Higgins
  • Harry Guardino as Sam Trimble
  • Richard Haydn as Quentin Bartlett
  • Hermione Baddeley as Miss Irene Chesney
  • Bryan Russell as Jack Flagg
  • Liam Redmond as Captain Swain
  • Cecil Kellaway as Mr. Pemberton
  • Joby Baker as Bandido Leader
  • Mike Mazurki as Mountain Ox
  • Alan Carney as Joe Turner
  • Parley Baer as Chief Executioner
  • Arthur Hunnicutt as Referee
  • Dub Taylor as Timekeeper

Production Details

  • Director: James Neilson
  • Writers: Lowell S. Hawley (screenplay)



  1. "Big Rental Films of 1967", Variety, 3 January 1968 p 25. Please note these figures refer to rentals accruing to the distributors.