Ireland 1587. Hugh O'Donnell inherits the title of The O'Donnell, the prince of Donegal, and tries to unite Ireland to make war on England. But then Hugh is kidnapped and imprisoned by the Viceroy of Ireland and held ransom for the Clans' good behavior. Hugh must escape prison and the Viceroy's villainous henchman, Captain Leeds, before he can fight.Written by
"Red Hugh" O'Donnell (in Irish, Aodh Rua Ó Domhnaill) was born in 1572, a son of Hugh Roe (Aodh mac Maghnusa Ó Domhnaill), king of Tir Connaill. The movie, though heavily fictionalized, contains many elements from his life: He was imprisoned in Dublin Castle, but at age 15, not as an adult. He did escape twice, in 1591 and January of 1592, with the assistance of his friends the O'Neills--in fact, he and two O'Neill brothers are the only men to escape (during which Hugh lost two toes to frostbite). At 20 he became The O'Donnell, Lord of Tyrconnel (now Donegal, hence the movie's title), but on his father's abdication, not his death. In 1593 he declared war against the English, joined in 1596 by the O'Neills, though Donegal Castle was never taken by the English. After his forces won an impressive string of battles, Spain entered the conflict as Ireland's allies in 1601, but the combined force was defeated in 1602 and Hugh fled to Spain, hoping Philip III would provide more aid. Unfortunately, the Prince of Donegal died that year at Simancas Castle. See more »
The song "O'Donnell Aboo," which is sung at the film's conclusion was not written until the 1840s and refers to events in the Nine Year's War, which took place from 1593 to 1602. The film begins in 1587, prior to the conflict. See more »
Music by Michael Joseph McCann (c. 1843)
Arranged by Eric Rogers
Heard instrumentally throughout the film on the soundtrack
Also sung by Andrew Keir and cast at conclusion See more »
About as Irish as a bowlful of Lucky Charms
Walt must have been thinking of tying into the "young rebel" trend of the '60s. This is a tale of a generic young Irish nobleman during the Elizabethan era, rebelling against a generic English colonial master (this was made just before the modern troubles broke out.) He gains generic friends and allies, is imprisoned, escapes, leads a generic merry chase all over Ireland, and rescues his generic lady fair from the generic castle.
All that's missing is Herbie the Love Bug! Not once is anyone in any terror of bloodshed. Even Snow White had her frights but Walt, in his dotage, must have been losing his taste or his nerve.
The one real bright spot is the cast full of gonna-be's of British Stage and Screen, including Gordon Jackson, Susan Hampshire, Donal McCann and Maurice Roëves. If nothing else, the director had an eye for serious talent.
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