Rob Roy, the Highland Rogue
|Rob Roy, the Highland Rogue|
|Directed by||Harold French|
|Produced by||Perce Pearce|
|Written by||Lawrence Edward Watkin|
James Robertson Justice
|Music by||Cedric Thorpe Davie|
|Edited by||Geoffrey Foot|
|Distributed by||RKO Radio Pictures|
Rob Roy, the Highland Rogue is a 1953 British-American action film, made by Walt Disney Productions which is about Rob Roy MacGregor. It was the last Disney film released through RKO Radio Pictures.
The film begins in the early 18th century with Rob Roy leading his McGregor clansmen against King George I's forces commanded by the Scottish Duke of Argyll.
While determined to establish order in the Highlands, Argyll is sympathetic to "the bonny blue bonnets" whom he is fighting, even refusing to unleash German mercenaries against them. A final charge by royal dragoons scatters the clansmen but honour appears satisfied and Rob Roy returns to his village to wed his beloved Helen.
The wedding celebrations are interrupted by fencibles – the private army of the Duke of Montrose who has been appointed as the King's Secretary of State for Scotland and who lacks Argyll's regard for the highlanders. All clans involved in the Jacobite rising of 1715 are pardoned except for the McGregors.
Rob Roy is arrested and the Clan McGregor is deprived of the right to use its name. Rob Roy escapes, leaping a waterfall and subsequently leads McGregor opposition to the increasingly repressive regime imposed by Montrose through his agent Killearn. During a skirmish with the fencibles McGregor's mother is killed. A fort is stormed by the clan and its garrison of royal soldiers taken prisoner.
The Duke of Argyll goes to King George to plead the case for leniency for the Clan McGregor, who have been forced into rebellion. Montrose urges repression.
At this crucial point Rob Roy appears at the royal court, heralded by a piper. Rob Roy's self-evident qualities quickly convince the king to pardon him and his clan. After an exchange of compliments: "Rob Roy – you are a great rogue"; "and you sire are a great king", the McGregor returns to his people and his wife.
- Richard Todd as Rob Roy MacGregor
- Glynis Johns as Helen Mary MacPherson MacGregor
- James Robertson Justice as John Campbell, 2nd Duke of Argyll.
- Michael Gough as Duke of Montrose
- Finlay Currie as Hamish MacPherson
- Jean Taylor Smith as Lady Margaret Campbell MacGregor, of Glengyll
- Geoffrey Keen as Killearn
- Archie Duncan as Dugal MacGregor
- Russell Waters as Hugh MacGregor
- Marjorie Fielding as Maggie MacPherson
- Eric Pohlmann as King George I
- Ina De La Haye as Countess von Pahlen
- Michael Goodliffe as Sir Robert Walpole
- Martin Boddey as General Cadogan
- Ewen Solon as Maj. Gen. Wightman
- Ian MacNaughton as Callum MacGregor
- Ted Follows as Douglas MacGregor
- May Hallatt as Ballad Hawker
- Hamilton Keene as Fort Commandant
- Henry Hewitt as Lord Parker
- Malcolm Keen as Duke of Marlborough
- David Keir as Servant to Argyll
Proposed Gainsborough Versions
In 1938, Gainsborough Pictures announced plans to make a Rob Roy film starring Will Fyffe, Margaret Lockwood and Michael Redgrave directed by Carol Reed. Leslie Arliss and Curt Siodmak wrote a script. The film was postponed due to World War II. In 1945, J. Arthur Rank, who by then owned Gainsborough, announced that he would make a film of the story, and that Stewart Granger would star in it. However the film was not made.
Disney had enjoyed success with its first live-action film, Treasure Island (1950), shot in England. He followed it up with two more costume adventure tales, The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men and The Sword and the Rose both directed by Ken Annakin and starring Richard Todd.
In September 1952, Disney announced that Todd would star in a film about Rob Roy immediately after Sword and the Rose, and that the film would have a budget of approximately $1.8 million. The story would be based on "history and legend" rather than the novel by Sir Walter Scott. (He was considering making a film about King Arthur afterwards. ) (Another report said the script would be based on a book by Daniel Dafoe.)
"I like history," said Disney. "It's universal. Subjects like Robin Hood and the Tudors appeal to everyone. And costumes don't date, you know. I can release these films over and over again and they won't get the kind of laugh you get from modern subjects made ten years back."
When the Rank Organisation refused to loan Annakin out to Disney again, Disney chose Harold French (who had worked with Annakin on some Somerset Maugham portmanteau films) to direct the film. Rob Roy was filmed just as Sword and the Rose was released.
Rob Roy was shot on location in Scotland, including at Corriegrennan. Richard Todd related in his autobiography that the extras were soldiers of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders who had just returned from the Korean War.
Todd also sheepishly admitted that his first scene leading a charge, led to an injury when he stepped in a rabbit hole.
The soldiers only received their normal pay of seven shillings a day. The War Office received 25 shillings a day. Questions about these paymentswere were raised in the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Filming took place near Aberfoyle.
The New York Times critic Bosley Crowther described it as "a fine lot of fighting among the hills, shooting of rifles, banging of claymores, skirling of pipes and buzzing of burrs, filmed and recorded in color on the actual Scottish countryside. And while Mr. Todd is not precisely the Rob Roy that history records, he is indeed a satisfactory fabrication until a better Rob Roy comes along."
In June 1954 Walt Disney admitted that the box office returns of this and The Sword in the Rose were "not up to expectations" in the US but they performed better in other countries and were expected to return their costs. However he pulled back on making costume pictures as a result.
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