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The Master of Ballantrae (1953)

Approved | | Action, Adventure, History | 5 August 1953 (USA)
2:35 | Trailer

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Two noble Scottish brothers deliberately take opposite sides when Bonnie Prince Charlie returns to claim the throne of Scotland in order to preserve the family fortune.


William Keighley


Herb Meadow (screenplay), Harold Medford (additional dialogue)



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Complete credited cast:
Errol Flynn ... Jamie Durie
Roger Livesey ... Col. Francis Burke
Anthony Steel ... Henry Durie
Beatrice Campbell Beatrice Campbell ... Lady Alison
Yvonne Furneaux ... Jessie Brown
Felix Aylmer ... Lord Durrisdeer
Mervyn Johns ... MacKellar
Charles Goldner Charles Goldner ... Mendoza
Ralph Truman Ralph Truman ... Maj. Clarendon
Francis De Wolff Francis De Wolff ... Matthew Bull (as Francis de Wolff)
Jacques Berthier Jacques Berthier ... Capt. Arnaud


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 <steve@brainstorm.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Thundering Crusaders of the White Cockade! See more »


Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

5 August 1953 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Robert Louis Stevenson's The Master of Ballantrae See more »

Filming Locations:

Palermo, Sicily, Italy See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


At the time of filming Errol Flynn was ill with hepatitis resulting from liver damage. See more »


As Arnaud's ship approaches land, the lookout shouts "Land on the starboard bow!" (i.e. to the right), yet he is pointing to the port side (i.e. to the left). A cut to the deck shows Capt. Arnaud training his telescope to port instead of starboard. See more »


MacCauley: Where's the passage money?
Col. Francis Burke: Now, faith, how can you speak of such a vulgar thing in the presence of a hero of Culloden, and a wounded one at that?
See more »


Referenced in Ken Adam: Designing Bond (2000) See more »

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User Reviews

Flynn's Last WB Film an Okay Swashbuckler...
15 September 2003 | by Ben Burgraff (cariart)See all my reviews

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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