I find this "Master of Ballantrae" a memorable, exciting and effective adaptation of the novel, and much closer to the book than the previous version with Errol Flynn. Sure, some of the accents sound forced, and some of the acting is melodramatic and over-the-top--but that suits the subject. Normally, providing a happy ending for a story that normally ends eerily and tragically would be jarring, but it really works, here.
The characterization is excellent, and you really get three adventure movies in one for your money, here: the love-triangle, rival-brothers and family inheritance story (Michael York is perfect as unreasonably beloved, ill-intentioned James, and Richard Thomas (always an under-rated actor) as long-suffering Henry) , swashbuckling pirate combat, and North American Wilderness quest for buried treasure.
I have cherished the copy I made from the Hallmark Hall of Fame tv broadcast--twenty years ago, now! and only wish that someday it would be available on DVD. Because the location cinematography, settings and costumes (who'd have thought there were that many types of plaid!) are all stunning. Too bad it seems to be unappreciated and forgotten. It will remain one of my favorite films forever.
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