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Buckle on your swashes for this swashbuckling adventure with a highlander who fought for Bonnie Prince Charlie who, after various escapades, becomes a pirate. Written by
Steve Crook <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The 43-year-old Errol Flynn was generally felt to look too old to play the dashing young hero of Robert Louis Stevenson's novel. Although Flynn was wearing heavy make up, in the close ups he appeared about a decade older than his actual age. See more »
The so-called Spanish galleon is a frigate; galleons were replaced by frigates in the 17th century. See more »
Col. Francis Burke:
[Listening to Jamie trying to read aloud the Latin inscription on a ring]
"Lift up the eyes," you're saying, unless my Latin professor was a lying fraud.
See more »
In the early 50s, the major Hollywood studios produced many movies in Europe, as it was cheaper to make 'quality' films there, utilizing foreign labor. IVANHOE, QUO VADIS, and ROMAN HOLIDAY were a few memorable titles shot overseas, and when the WB chose to make the last of Errol Flynn's films for the studio, THE MASTER OF BALLANTRAE, in England, no one was happier than Flynn, himself. His career grinding to a halt, his finances in disarray, he had left America with creditors at his heels, finding that in Europe, he was still considered bankable, and his name still had marquee value. He hoped that starring in a swashbuckler (only his second since 1948's ADVENTURES OF DON JUAN) might revive his career, and open doors as he began to freelance. Unfortunately, years of self-neglect had taken it's toll on his appearance and energy, and even the most careful of lighting would no longer create a youthful illusion. At 44, Flynn showed all of his years, and lacked the acrobatic grace that had made his earlier swashbucklers so memorable.
Very loosely based on a Robert Lewis Stevenson novel, with elements of CAPTAIN BLOOD thrown in for good measure, Flynn is Jamie Durrisdeer, the hedonistic eldest son of a Scottish lord, who, after a coin toss, leaves to fight alongside Bonnie Prince Charlie, while his younger brother, Henry, 'plays nice' with the British, in order to save their estate. After the Scottish army is defeated, he finds himself a fugitive, allies himself with Irish mercenary Col. Francis Burke (a scene-stealing performance by Roger Livesey), and sneaks home to borrow money to flee to France. After a tearful reunion with his lady love (Beatrice Campbell, who was certainly no threat to Olivia de Havilland as a Flynn leading lady), Jamie awaits brother Henry's arrival, with funds, on the coast...only to be betrayed, barely escaping with his life. Burke takes the wounded Jamie onboard a waiting ship, only to be informed that the destination is the Caribbean, not France. The pair had been shanghaied!
After a series of events very reminiscent of CAPTAIN BLOOD, Jamie becomes a successful buccaneer, defeating a French rival in combat. Single-mindedly on a mission of vengeance, he returns home to Scotland to confront the brother who had 'betrayed' him...
At a brief 90 minutes, the pace never falters, and the cinematography, by Jack Cardiff, is rich and vivid (and so impressed Flynn that he hired Cardiff to film and direct his 'pet' project, an adventure film about William Tell...which was, sadly, never completed, as Flynn went bankrupt).
While THE MASTER OF BALLANTRAE was certainly not of a caliber with Flynn's best swashbucklers, it was undeniably the best film that the WB had assigned him to since THE ADVENTURES OF DON JUAN. Unfortunately, the reviews were lukewarm, at best, and the film was largely ignored.
For all intent and purpose, Errol Flynn was 'washed up' in America. He would not make another American film for four years...a sad state of affairs for a man who, just a few years earlier, had been the toast of Hollywood!
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