33 user 6 critic

The Master of Ballantrae (1953)

2:35 | Trailer

On Disc

at Amazon

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)



Learn more

More Like This 

Action | Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Brian Hawke of the Royal Navy versus the pirates of Madagascar.

Director: George Sherman
Stars: Errol Flynn, Maureen O'Hara, Anthony Quinn
Montana (1950)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

An Australian sheepman comes to Montana looking for grazing space, is opposed by local ranchers and a wealthy cattle-woman.

Directors: Ray Enright, Raoul Walsh
Stars: Errol Flynn, Alexis Smith, S.Z. Sakall
Certificate: Passed Action | Adventure | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

The great lover Don Juan comes to the assistance of his queen.

Director: Vincent Sherman
Stars: Errol Flynn, Viveca Lindfors, Robert Douglas
San Antonio (1945)
Certificate: Passed Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

Tough dance hall girl working for the local villain falls for a cowboy trying to clean up the town.

Directors: David Butler, Robert Florey, and 1 more credit »
Stars: Errol Flynn, Alexis Smith, S.Z. Sakall
The Sea Hawk (1940)
Action | Adventure | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Geoffrey Thorpe, a buccaneer, is hired by Queen Elizabeth I to nag the Spanish Armada. The Armada is waiting for the attack on England and Thorpe surprises them with attacks on their galleons where he shows his skills on the sword.

Director: Michael Curtiz
Stars: Errol Flynn, Brenda Marshall, Claude Rains
Crime | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

After a career criminal is recaptured and knows he faces the guillotine, he offers to exchange his life for 100 hostages slated for execution by the Nazis.

Director: Raoul Walsh
Stars: Errol Flynn, Paul Lukas, Lucile Watson
Dive Bomber (1941)
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A military surgeon teams with a ranking navy flyer to develop a high-altitude suit which will protect pilots from blacking out when they go into a steep dive.

Director: Michael Curtiz
Stars: Errol Flynn, Fred MacMurray, Ralph Bellamy
Moonfleet (1955)
Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A young orphan is sent to the village of Moonfleet, in Dorset, England to stay with his mother's former lover, who has the facade of a gentleman but is a leader of a gang of swashbuckling bootleggers. The duo went on a treasure hunt.

Director: Fritz Lang
Stars: Stewart Granger, George Sanders, Joan Greenwood
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

After two years under German rule, a small Norwegian fishing village rises up and revolts against the occupying Nazis.

Director: Lewis Milestone
Stars: Errol Flynn, Ann Sheridan, Walter Huston
Action | Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A platoon of special ops are tasked to parachute into the remote Burmese jungle and destroy a strategic Japanese radar station, but getting out isn't as easy.

Director: Raoul Walsh
Stars: Errol Flynn, James Brown, William Prince
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Adventurer sets out to save princess' father's kingdom.

Directors: Milton Krims, Vittorio Vassarotti
Stars: Errol Flynn, Gina Lollobrigida, Nadia Gray
Adventure | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A Canadian Mountie of German descent feigns disaffection with his homeland in hopes of infiltrating and thwarting a Nazi sabotage plot.

Director: Raoul Walsh
Stars: Errol Flynn, Julie Bishop, Helmut Dantine


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


A fighter by any code of arms... a rebel for the devil of it ! 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?


Stuntman Bob Anderson doubled for both actors in a sword fight and therefore "killed" himself. 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 »


Arnaud: [Impressed with Durie's fencing ability during their duel] You've been studying my style, Monsieur.
Jamie Durie: I've a style of my own, thanks.
See more »


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

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

The Curse of the Duries
8 August 2006 | by theowinthropSee all my reviews

It is generally conceded today that Robert Louis Stevenson's two greatest works are the unfinished novel WEIR OF HERMISTON, and the completed THE MASTER OF BALLENTRAE. The latter story (published in 1889) is centered on a filial rivalry and hatred that lasts literally until the death of the two brothers involved.

Ballentrae is an estate in 18th Century Scotland, and the chief heir is James Durie. On the surface he is an easy going, fun loving type. When the 1745 Jacobite revolt under Bonnie Prince Charlie occurs, the Laird of Ballentrae is in a quandary. As a Highland Laird, he has to show he is a supporter of the ancient royal house of Scotland (the Stuarts) that Prince Charles represents. As a man who knows what the Hanovarians are like, he dare not fully come out as a supporter. So he hedges his bets. He has James go off to fight for the Stuart cause, but keeps his younger son Henry at home. Henry is not a fun loving type - he is a quiet, business-like type, who does not make friends easily.

So James goes off, and time passes. He is eventually reported as dead. Henry immediately becomes the heir to the estate. But suddenly James returns, and willingly brings troubles with him. The British government does have a price on his head, and if he is found on the estate the Duries may be imprisoned and their wealth taken away. Yet the old man insists that Henry do what is right for his older brother, and James keeps reminding Henry that by rights he is "Master of Ballentrae".

What happens, of course, is a disaster. To begin with, it slowly comes out that James may have declared for the Stuart cause, but he never showed up to fight for that cause. In short he acted like a loud mouth, attracting the anger of the government but then showed he was a coward. Not a total coward (where his own interest is involved) but one who won't put himself out for others when the chips are down. Secondly it turns out that his fun-loving activities are coming home to roost - he's had an affair, and left an illegitimate child. This, of course, means that the family has to support the bastard child.

Moreover, Henry has married the woman who would have married James under normal circumstances. He is now trying to unofficially regain her attention. This proves too much for Henry, and leads to one of the best passages in Stevenson's writings - the duel between the brothers in a darkened room. It ends with Henry believing he killed James. Would that he had.

James persecutes Henry and his wife for the rest of the novel (the father eventually dies of shame after learning how James was so cowardly at Culloden). The novel eventually goes to New York (then a colony) where both brothers meet up and meet their joint destiny.

This review of the story does not go into Henry's character flaws (he is a money grubber in the end). Stevenson never did make a better completed novel, even though there are elements of the improbable in it.

The story was made into this 1953 film, probably the last good movie Errol Flynn had the lead in that was a swashbuckler. The ambiguities and moral lapses of the two brothers are not used here (Henry is played by Anthony Steel, and he is far too young here for the role). James' opportunistic streak, and his non-appearance at Culloden is not in the film - he shows up at the battle. Indeed, he meets Colonel Francis Burke, an English Jacobite (Roger Livesey) who becomes his one ally and friend in the novel. In the film there will be other allies. Mervyn Johns plays the family servant MacKellar, who narrates the actual novel (but not here), and sees the flaws of both brothers all too clearly (although he ends up sympathizing with Henry). Lord Durrisdeer, the father of the brothers is Finlay Curray. The cast is generally quite good. But the excellence of the story is dropped and replaced into a tale of misunderstanding, and how a universal dislike of the English manages to keep the family together. Stevenson would have been amazed and hurt by what was done here.

I am willing to give the film an "8" for it's good points, mostly the performances (in particular Livesay's chemistry with Flynn). But I miss the tragic element of the novel. To properly appreciate the novel, if one can't read it, try to catch the television version made with Michael York and Richard Thomas and John Guilgud back in the 1980s. It too changed the end, but it stuck closer to the spirit of hopeless competition and hatred that Stevenson concocted in his masterpiece.

24 of 27 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 33 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Comedy Titles With Prime Video

Explore popular comedy titles available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial

Recently Viewed