|Index||8 reviews in total|
Set in Ireland in 1815, this magnificent Technicolor production is full of romance, intrigue, action and adventure. The three principals in the cast, Rock Hudson, Barbara Rush and Jeff Morrow, all shine in this studio vehicle for young star Rock Hudson, who is terrific in the title role, with style, sex appeal, and a good Irish accent (Hudson was full-blood Irish, his real name was Roy Fitzgerald). Jeff Morrow, also an Irishman in real life, was especially good in one of his greatest roles as Captain Thunderbolt, leader of the Irish resistance against the British dragoons, sent to occupy Ireland by the British crown; Morrow had to take lessons to learn how to swordfight from Basil Rathbone. Filmed almost entirely on location in Ireland, this was one of the first Universal pictures to be filmed away from Hollywood. A fine, rousing adventure and a warm, sensitive romance. One of the best films made by the producer-director team of Ross Hunter and Douglas Sirk. Sadly, many Universal pictures of the 1950s and 1960s are still unavailable on home video. Universal should be ashamed of themselves for not releasing this great film on video, and a wide-screen letterbox version on DVD as well. Ay, tis the luck o' the Irish.
This is not really a drama;this is not a story of sound and fury
either. Sirk's swashbuckler is a bit tongue-in -cheek .He often makes a
fool of his hero (Rock Hudson ,his favourite actor ,he will be featured
in many other Sirk works including the stunning "magnificent obsession"
and "written on the wind" ): he tries to help captain Thunderbolt to
escape and ends up himself in prison;on the roof he unintentionally
rings the bell.Barbara Rush (another Sirk's favourite:she will team up
with Hudson again in " Taza" and "obsession")gets a good whacking.The
political side remains vague and neither the Irish nor the English seem
to take it seriously although it's not really a comedy.But the main
interest is the splendid cinematography ,the marvelous landscapes :the
scene when Lightfoot and Regis try to escape and end up in the river is
masterfully filmed.There's something nonchalant ,which makes "captain
Lightfoot" a distant cousin of "a scandal in Paris" (1946) in Sirk's
That said,it's entertaining but I do not think that it ranks with the director's best films.
Universal in the early Fifties was a decidedly second rate studio in
desperate need of a star of their own. Director Douglas Sirk spotted
Rock Hudson in a bit role and sensed star potential. Sirk almost single
handedly coached and groomed Hudson towards stardom, which was achieved
with the wildly successful "Magnificent Obsession" (1954). They would
make eight movies together, "Captain Lightfoot" being the fourth, and
the first in which Hudson would appear as an established star.
Hudson's newfound stardom is palpable throughout the movie. He exudes a boyish confidence as yet unseen in his work making this the joyful romp that Sirk intended. He is matched by a feisty Barbara Rush who played opposite him in the inferior "Taza, Son of Cochise" and supported by an cast of Irish players vastly superior to the bit players Universal would have supplied had the movie not been shot in Ireland.
Sirk's Hollywood career can be divided into three phases. First, the early years in a new country, finding his feet with some solid, if unexciting movies. The middle period was characterized by light weight comedies and trying his hand at different genres such as the western, the costume and historical dramas. Finally, would be his golden period of the melodramas for which he became famous. "Captain Lightfoot" signals the end of the middle period.
While extremely enjoyable, it lacks sufficient substance to make it memorable. Sirk fans would naturally not want to miss this, but Rock Hudson fans in particular should seek this out. He seldom seemed to be truly having such a good time as here when flexing his new grown wings of stardom.
This is a 1955 Douglas Sirk film for Universal about Irish adventures ,
concerning a romanticized version of a pair of intrepid adventurers ,
starring Rock Hudson in the title role of Captain Lightfoot , and it is
full of adventure, romance , intrigue , ballroom dance , action ,
pistol duel and Ireland rebellion . Set in Ireland in 1815 , spanking
Michael Martin (Rock Hudson , he was full-blood Irish, his real name
was Roy FitzGerald) , member of an Irish revolutionary society , turns
highwayman to support it , and is forced to flee into outlawry and to
seek shelter in Dublin , capital of Ireland . In Dublín , he meets
known rebel "Captain Thunderbolt¨ (Jeff Morrow, also an Irishman in
real life) posing as an aristocrat , he is really leader of the Irish
resistance against the English dragoons sent to occupy Ireland by the
British Crown , then Michael becomes his second-in-command ,
"Lightfoot¨. As a couple of Irish rebels undertake swashbuckling
adventures , abducting , rescues , attacks against fortress and many
other things . The flick describes their dangerous life , with captures
, betrayals , perilous feats , and romance . There takes place an
unforgettably beautiful love story between Michael and Thunderbolt's
daughter (Barbara Rush) . Meanwhile , Thunderbolt is gunshot wound , he
hides but is discovered , being betrayed by a traitor (Dennis O'Dea) ,
caught eavesdropping and imprisoned . Lightfoot attempts to free him
from prison , disguising as a priest . The real "Thunderbolt and
Lightfoot" story goes back to 1818 , about two notorious highwaymen ,
their bold and daring robberies, and hair-bredth escapes . Together
with the life and recent death, in Vermont, of a man reputed to be
Thunderbolt was arrested in Springfield , Massachusetts, was tried,
convicted, and hanged about 1821 . It was Martin who, just before his
execution , gave the full description of his former partner, Captain
Thunderbolt, who by then was a simple, kindly , somewhat overdressed
country doctor quietly practicing his medicine in Dummerston and
falling down on his face at the Saturday night dances .
A fine , impressive adventure and a warm , sensitive romance , including turncoats , riots , dance balls and many others things . Dealing with love , battles , death and societal constraints . The film often depends on melodrama and relies heavily on the silly love story between Hudson and Rush . The flick is made in Sirk style , including his ordinary trademarks and financed by his customary producer , Ross Hunter , and Universal International with whom he made nine films , many of which involved the collaboration of Rock Hudson, cinematographer Russell Metty or Irving Glassberg , and art director Alexander Golitzen . Weak screenplay based on novel , ¨Captain Lightfoot¨ , written by prestigious W.R. Burnett . The three principals in the cast , Rock Hudson as character name in title , Barbara Rush and Jeff Morrow , all shine in this studio vehicle for young star Rock Hudson, who is terrific in the title role , with style , sex appeal , and a good Irish accent . Jeff Morrow was especially good in one of his greatest roles as Captain Thunderbolt , Morrow had to take lessons to learn how to sword-fight from Basil Rathbone . Support cast is pretty well such as Kathleen Ryan , Finlay Currie and Denis O'Dea . To be said that inspired Michael Cimino to write the film "Thunderbolt and Lightfoot" with Clint Eastwood and Jeff Bridges . Interestingly, this film was shot at the time Eastwood was an apprentice for Universal . We don't know whether Cimino's original inspiration came from the film or one of the books, or even from popular tales he might have heard somewhere around .
Rousing and thrilling musical score by Heinz Roemheld and Herman Stein , though uncredited . Colorful and brilliant cinematography in magnificent Technicolor by Irving Glassberg . Filmed almost entirely on location in Ireland, this was one of the first Universal pictures to be filmed away from Hollywood . Being shot on location in Clogherhead, County Louth, Ireland and Powerscourt Estate , Enniskerry, County Wicklow, Ireland . The motion picture was professionally directed by Douglas Sirk . His first directorial stint in America was Hitler's Madman (1943) , but it is for his work at Universal International in the 1950s for which he is primarily known . Sirk got a great success , particularly the high-suds soap operas he lensed for producer Ross Hunter in the 1950s : Magnificent obsession (1954) , All That Heaven Allows (1955) and his last American film , Imitation of life (1959) . Sirk's favorite American film was the Western , Taza , son of Cochise (1954) , which was shot in 3-D , also starred by Rock Hudson and Barbara Rush . The true genesis of the Sirk cult was the realization of notorious flicks full of twisted melodrama and passion , such as : Written on the wind , Battle hymn , The Tarnished Angels , Interlude , All I desire , There's Always Tomorrow and A Time to Love and a Time to Die ; the latter is one of the best films made by the producer-director team of Ross Hunter and Douglas Sirk . Society is an omnipresent character in Sirk's films , as important as the characters played by his actors, such as Jane Wyman , Barbara Rush and Rock Hudson.
Rock Hudson, Barbara Rush, and Jeff Morrow came over from America to
appear with a cast of Irish players starring in Captain Lightfoot. It's
a story of Ireland in the post Napoleonic era with the dashing Captain
Thunderbolt looking for a successor to carry on with banditry and
villainy all in the cause of a free Ireland.
Morrow is the legendary Thunderbolt getting on in years and when in the guise of a parson spots young Rock Hudson taking on a British dragoon. That was it, Morrow has found his man.
He also finds his son-in-law as well as his daughter Barbara Rush eventually falls for Hudson who after a period where she thinks of him as a country bumpkin, starts falling for him. She names his Lightfoot because of lack of ability on the dance floor. There relationship is not approved of by Morrow and first and Rush is a spitfire. There's a lot of borrowing from The Taming Of The Shrew here.
Hudson seems a bit ill at ease in a part that a young Errol Flynn would have gone to town with. Also if you've seen Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. in The Fighting O'Flynn with that kind of élan Fairbanks brought to the part it was a shame he was about 15 years too old for the role.
Rush and Morrow are great and the Irish locations and the talents of the supporting cast, many of them members of the Abbey Theater really do make the film a visual treat and a treat for the ears. The finale involving storming the castle at Ballymoor is well staged.
He wasn't well cast, but the role did no harm to the rising career of Rock Hudson.
A colorful, light adventure that plays like a classic swashbuckler, the
Ross Hunter production "Captain Lightfoot," is entertaining Hollywood
hokum from a screenplay by W.R. Burnett and Oscar Brodney, which was
loosely based on Irish history. The casting of Rock Hudson as Mike
Martin, aka Captain Lightfood, undercuts any pretense to historical
accuracy, despite a supporting cast of Irish players. Although hired
more for his looks and marquee value, than his aptness for the role,
Hudson nevertheless is amiable, and he attempts a slight brogue that
gets slighter as the film progresses. While his good-natured
performance is an asset to the movie, Hudson lacks the confidence and
bravado that a Burt Lancaster would have brought to the part.
Martin was a bold highwayman in early 19th century Ireland, who worked for a revolutionary society in support of Irish independence. An Irish Robin Hood, Martin stole from the English oppressors to aid the cause and to feed the poor. An Irish rebel patriot, Captain John Doherty, hears of Martin's exploits and enlists him to be his second in command; brought to Dublin by Doherty, Martin is dubbed Captain Lightfoot by Doherty's saucy headstrong daughter, Aga, after a fumbled dance with him. Known as Captain Thunderbolt, Doherty runs a gambling establishment that fleeces the English to fund the independence struggle. Like a boys' adventure movie, "Captain Lightfoot" is often exciting fun. During duels and escapes, fights and chases, robberies and romance, director Douglas Sirk maintains a steady pace.
Barbara Rush provides the requisite love interest as Aga, although the predictable romance between her and Hudson is of the clichéd "hate at first sight" variety, and viewers know the outcome from the first scene. Jeff Morrow, who plays Aga's father, Doherty, arguably gives the film's best performance; he is strong, authoritative, and convincing as a rebel leader. "Captain Lightfoot's" technical credits are also good. Shot on location in Ireland, the scenery is lush and beautiful, and the music, supervised by Joseph Gershenson, is rousing. While undemanding fun, the movie does not rise to memorable, despite the presence of a young Rock Hudson at the cusp of stardom. For Hudson fans, the film is essential viewing, for others, light escapist fun.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This film is singularly lacking in power and excitement, despite actual
lensing in Ireland in CinemaScope and color. Despite lavish production
values, the story is weak, the dialogue weaker and the acting tepid.
Sirk's perfunctory direction does not help. It's one of those films in
which the music score attempts to do all the work of building up
suspense, excitement and atmosphere an attempt which is by no means a
Every bit as boring as I remembered it on its first release, "Lightfoot" is not only thoroughly routine and thoroughly dull, but totally without interest in acting, writing, direction or production. It's dull enough with Jeff Morrow partnering Rock in "hairbreadth" escapades, but with the entry of Barbara Rush as Rock's romantic interest it gets even duller, even more predictable and even less interesting. You need a big supply of stay-awake pills to sit this one through.
Very unusual for a 1950's Universal costume adventure, Captain
Lightfoot sports expensive, elaborate production values. It benefits
greatly from extensive location shooting, beautifully photographed, and
fancifully but tastefully colorful sets and costumes.
Hudson and Rush are excellent as dashing hero and his spitfire lady.
There's an effective mix of action, romantic comedy, and melodrama--all well staged.
Too bad the script is weak; often the character relationships and decisions characters make stretch credibility to the point of distraction.
Contrary to what a couple of other reviewers here said, I thought most of the supporting cast so-so, Abby Players or not. None of the fun, charisma, and panache that British-Hollywood baddies like Basil Rathbone, Claude Raines, and Henry Daniel brought to similar material.
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