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This Walt Disney (early, when Walt Disney Production was synonymous
with wholesome family fare - poor Walt!) film, was actually part of a
trilogy contracted with British actors Richard Todd and James Robertson
Justice (The Sword and the Rose & The Story of Robin Hood and His
Merrie Men were the other two). The lovely Glynis Johns, who plays
Rob's wife, portrays a charming Mary Tudor in the Sword and the Rose,
but is absent from 'Robin Hood'. Joan Rice is delightful as Maid
Marion, but ....
Admittedly, one shouldn't substitute 'Highland Rogue' for a documentary on Scottish history of the period. However, there is more than enough accuracy to explain the attitudes and conflicts of the time.
Richard Todd shows, clearly, why he was one of the top British film stars of his time and why he was a popular North American import for both stage and screen . He was one of the most passionately animated actors to achieve leading man status. His dark good looks, range of expression, and obvious athleticism (he served as a paratrooper in WWII) complemented his energetic performances.
Those who, after watching him, have wondered why he didn't have even greater success in North America, should remember two things: Britain, aflame with patriotic fervor after the war, had a very strong film industry of its own; therefore, many actors felt no desire to join Hollywood's 'British Colony'. Also, Todd fell slightly short, pardon the pun, of North America's standard for romantic leading men.
For those concerned about coarse language, explicit sex, or graphic violence when selecting family viewing - this is a keeper. The historic struggle, warm interaction between the stars, and humour should satisfy the more mature members, while the bright colours and action sequences should appeal to all.
I first saw this movie about 45 years ago and 3 scenes stayed with me until 'my good woman' was able to find a copy for me last year. (Since I watch it every month, she uses it as one of her arguments when she feels a need to remind me why I should appreciate her so much!) I also heartily recommend the other two movies from the trilogy as wonderful family viewing.
The third and last of his British made films with Richard Todd is Rob
Roy: The Highland Rogue. As per a Disney family audience it's a lot
more upbeat than the Nineties version of this same tale that starred
It's after the 1715 uprising and James Robertson Justice as the Duke of Argyll wants to bring peace to Scotland as he's figured out the Stuarts ain't coming back. But his aide Lord Montrose has a wholly different agenda going and it involves a special if unspecified grudge he has against the MacGregor Clan as headed by Richard Todd.
Anyway in many attempts they just can't seem to capture Todd or intimidate the MacGregors. The Earl of Montrose is played by Michael Gough and his bloodthirsty aide is played with special relish by Geoffrey Keen.
Rob Roy is not quite up to the excellence of Robin Hood and The Sword and the Rose, but Richard Todd is earnest and athletic and every inch a Scottish hero. There was definitely a special eye for the customs and mores of Eighteenth Century Scotland in the making of Rob Roy. And it holds up well after over half a century.
Walt Disney's follow-up to THE STORY OF ROBIN HOOD AND HIS MERRIE MEN (1952) is this similar epic about another legendary outlaw (emanating from Scotland this time around). He is once again played by Irishman Richard Todd (who has just passed away at the venerable age of 90) and the film even re-unites the actor with his three co-stars from yet another period outing from the Disney Studios, THE SWORD AND THE ROSE (1953), namely Glynis Johns, James Robertson Justice and Michael Gough. For some reason, the film is fairly maligned (awarded a measly *1/2 by the "Leonard Maltin Film Guide"!) but I rather enjoyed it, while readily admitting to be the least of Disney's three colorful adventures derived from the pages of English history. In traditional Disney fashion, the familiar events were simplified (though by no means rendered juvenile, as would often prove the case later) but there is enough sprawling action and engrossing drama to say nothing of the beautiful scenery captured in gleaming Technicolor to please most audiences. Similarly, characterization for this type of larger-than-life fare is pretty much standard but, given careful casting all round, it emerges as forceful rather than clichéd; besides, at a terse 81 minutes, the film has little chance of outstaying its welcome. Incidentally, I had found the flabby, oddly uninvolving and ill-cast 1995 remake (which had garnered critical praise and at least one top Oscar nod back in the day) a major disappointment on my sole viewing so far!
Although not based on Sir Walter Scott's novel of the same name, I found "Rob Roy" a most entertaining effort. Splendidly acted throughout, particularly by James Robertson Justice (as the sympathetic Campbell), Michael Gough and Geoffrey Keen (two wonderful villains), and Eric Pohlmann (a truly charismatic performance one of his best as King George), "Rob Roy" emerges as a rousing adventure yarn with plenty of swashbuckling excitement, hair's breadth escapes, and even a bit of humor and romance. French has directed in rousing style. He has an eye for both the pictorial and dramatic possibilities of real locations. Supporting technical credits are absolutely first-class, featuring fine scenic photography and a handsomely atmospheric music score.
Although I said I had seen this film before it was at least 44 years ago
I was only a strapping lad of about 6 or 7 so my comments of the film might
be touched with some nostalgia.I have incidently seen the new release of
Roy several times but I somehow prefer the 1953 version.
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