Rob Roy, the Highland Rogue
|Rob Roy, the Highland Rogue|
|Directed by||Harold French|
|Produced by||Perce Pearce, Walt Disney|
|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. This film is about Rob Roy MacGregor, and it is also the final 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 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. A fort is stormed by the clan and its garrison of English 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. At a 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.
Disney had enjoyed success with its first live action movie, Treasure Island, shot in England. He followed it up with two more costume adventure tales, The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men (starring Richard Todd) and The Sword and the Rose both directed by Ken Annakin. 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 which was filmed just as Sword and the Rose was released.
Rob Roy was shot on location in Scotland. 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 said as well as providing thrilling battle scenes for the viewers, the soldiers used the opportunity to enthusiastically get back at their non-commissioned officers. Todd also sheepishly admitted that his first scene leading a charge led to an injury when he stepped in a rabbit hole.
Disney later 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. He then pulled back on making costume pictures as a result.
- "Rob Roy, the Highland Rogue: Detail View". American Film Institute. Retrieved 1 June 2014.
- NEWS NOTES ON PICTURES AND PEOPLE By HOWARD THOMPSON. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 7 Sep 1952: X5.
- DISNEY--MASTER OF MOVIE MOODS: DISNEY Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963) [Chicago, Ill] 26 July 1953: g8.
- Todd, Richard. Caught in the Act, Hutchinson, 1986.
- Disney Reports Income Gain Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 4 June 1954: A7.
- Film Fare: Hollywood Producers Concentrate on Fewer, More Lavish Pictures Theatre Owners Complain. But Studios' Profits Are The Best in Years Genghis Khan and Ben Hur Producers Concentrate on Fewer, More Lavish Films; Theatre Owners Complain, But Studio Profits Soar BY DAVID KENYON WEBSTER Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL. Wall Street Journal (1923 - Current file) [New York, N.Y] 13 July 1954: 1.