Friday, March 07, 2014

Tonight's Movie: Rob Roy: The Highland Rogue (1953)

Last month I watched THE SWORD AND THE ROSE (1953), one of a trio of Disney films made in Britain in the early '50s starring actor Richard Todd.

ROB ROY: THE HIGHLAND ROGUE (1953) was the third film in the series, reuniting Todd with his SWORD AND THE ROSE costars Glynis Johns and James Robertson Justice. Todd and Justice had also starred in THE STORY OF ROBIN HOOD AND HIS MERRIE MEN (1952).

I thoroughly enjoyed ROB ROY, in which Todd stars as Rob Roy MacGregor, a Scotsman who leads his clan in rebellion against King George I. In between exasperating British soldiers with his guerrilla tactics and making daring escapes, he courts and marries lovely Helen Mary MacPherson (Glynis Johns).

Whereas Glynis Johns has the chance to shine brightest in THE SWORD AND THE ROSE, ROB ROY is Todd's film; he excels as the handsome and charismatic leader. Johns brings charm and determination to Helen Mary; not one to sit on the sidelines, when her home is attacked she helps her husband fight back, and when she later disagrees with his tactics she doesn't hesitate to let him know. Todd and Johns have excellent chemistry and jointly make this film a pleasure to watch.

These British Disney films have a sensibility not quite like any of the studio's other films, proving to be quite wonderful and colorful romantic adventures. (As a side note, I don't think Leonard Maltin and I were watching the same movie.) ROB ROY, like THE SWORD AND THE ROSE, deserves to be seen by a wider audience.

Todd and Johns are ably supported by James Robertson Justice as the Duke of Argyll. Justice had plum roles in these three films, appearing as Henry VIII in THE SWORD AND THE ROSE and Little John in THE STORY OF ROBIN HOOD AND HIS MERRIE MEN (1952).

Finlay Currie, Michael Gough, Eric Pohlmann, and Marjorie Fielding also star.

ROB ROY was directed by Harold French and filmed by Guy Green, an Oscar winner for GREAT EXPECTATIONS (1948). It runs 81 minutes.

This movie's only DVD release has been on a Disney Movie Rewards DVD. I received it for free from Disney Movie Rewards but it can be quite expensive when purchased elsewhere due to limited quantities. I would love to see the three Todd Disney films put out in a nice set but that's probably a pipe dream! In the meantime, the DVD can be rented from ClassicFlix.

The movie can also be rented for streaming via Amazon Instant Video.


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