The Master of Ballantrae (1953)

88-89 mins | Adventure | 1 August 1953

Director:

William Keighley

Writer:

Herb Meadow

Cinematographer:

Jack Cardiff

Editor:

Jack Harris

Production Designer:

Ralph Brinton

Production Company:

Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
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HISTORY

The working title of the film was The Sea Rogue . Opening title cards read "Robert Louis Stevenson's The Master of Ballantrae ." Voice-over narration after the credits explains that, in the year 1745, Bonnie Prince Charlie came to Scotland calling for help to expel King George of the House of Hannover and restore the House of Stuart to the throne. According to a Sep 1950 Var news item, the production was filmed in England using frozen assets. Jul 1952 HR news items add the following actors to the cast: William O'Neil, Kenneth Smith, Ray John, Joe Dillon, Charles Hammond , Manning Michael, Charles Carson and Gordon Scott. Their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. According to a modern source, Patrick Crean served as fencing master for the film. According to an Aug 1952 HR news item, portions of the film were shot in Cornwall, the Scottish highlands and Castle Eilean Donan near Dornie, Scotland, as well as at the Sicilian port of ... More Less

The working title of the film was The Sea Rogue . Opening title cards read "Robert Louis Stevenson's The Master of Ballantrae ." Voice-over narration after the credits explains that, in the year 1745, Bonnie Prince Charlie came to Scotland calling for help to expel King George of the House of Hannover and restore the House of Stuart to the throne. According to a Sep 1950 Var news item, the production was filmed in England using frozen assets. Jul 1952 HR news items add the following actors to the cast: William O'Neil, Kenneth Smith, Ray John, Joe Dillon, Charles Hammond , Manning Michael, Charles Carson and Gordon Scott. Their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. According to a modern source, Patrick Crean served as fencing master for the film. According to an Aug 1952 HR news item, portions of the film were shot in Cornwall, the Scottish highlands and Castle Eilean Donan near Dornie, Scotland, as well as at the Sicilian port of Palermo. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
25 Jul 1953.
---
Daily Variety
16 Jul 53
p. 3.
Film Daily
20 Jul 53
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Jun 52
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Jun 52
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Jul 52
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Jul 52
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Jul 52
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Jul 52
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Jul 52
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Aug 52
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Aug 52
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Jul 53
p. 3.
Los Angeles Daily News
6 Aug 1953.
---
Los Angeles Times
7 Aug 1952.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
18 Jul 53
p. 1918.
New York Times
6 Aug 53
p. 16.
New Yorker
15 Aug 1953.
---
Newsweek
17 Aug 1953.
---
Time
3 Aug 1952.
---
Variety
8 sep 1950.
---
Variety
22 Jul 53
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Warner Bros.--First National Picture
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
WRITERS
Addl dial
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
Mus comp
Mus dir
SOUND
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Master of Ballantrae by Robert Louis Stevenson (London, 1889).
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Sea Rogue
Release Date:
1 August 1953
Production Date:
23 June--late August 1952 at Elstree Studios, Elstree, England
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
20 June 1953
Copyright Number:
LP2759
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
88-89
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
16016
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In the 1700s in Scotland, the Stuart forces are trying to regain the English throne. Lord Durrisdeer decides to send one of his sons to fight with the Stuarts and keep the other loyal to the ruling king at home. Jamie Durrisdeer, the older son and heir to Ballantrae castle, who loves adventure and gambling, tosses a coin to decide which son will stay at home. Jamie loses, but pleased with the outcome, takes leave of his home and fiancée, Lady Alison, who is the ward of Durrisdeer, and fights for Scotland. However, he becomes a fugitive when the rebellion fails. After joining with an Irishman, Col. Francis Burke, who is also a veteran of the Scottish side of the rebellion, Jamie secretly returns to Ballantrae to get money to go to France. While hiding from the Redcoats at the house of his mistress, Jessie Brown, he sends for his brother Henry. In spite of his philandering, Alison is the love of Jamie's life. He kisses her passionately when she arrives and Jessie feels hurt. Henry and Jamie then make plans to rendezvous later at the beach, where Henry will give Jamie the money. Once there, however, Jamie finds Redcoats waiting for him. Maj. Clarendon fires at him and Jamie falls to the sea. As his body is not found, Clarendon informs the Durrisdeer household that he is dead. Later, however, when Henry goes to search for Jamie's body, he finds Jamie waiting for him in the stable. The wounded Jamie accuses Henry of betraying him, so that he can have Ballantrae and Alison for himself. Although Henry admits that he is attracted to Alison and that Jamie's gambling ... +


In the 1700s in Scotland, the Stuart forces are trying to regain the English throne. Lord Durrisdeer decides to send one of his sons to fight with the Stuarts and keep the other loyal to the ruling king at home. Jamie Durrisdeer, the older son and heir to Ballantrae castle, who loves adventure and gambling, tosses a coin to decide which son will stay at home. Jamie loses, but pleased with the outcome, takes leave of his home and fiancée, Lady Alison, who is the ward of Durrisdeer, and fights for Scotland. However, he becomes a fugitive when the rebellion fails. After joining with an Irishman, Col. Francis Burke, who is also a veteran of the Scottish side of the rebellion, Jamie secretly returns to Ballantrae to get money to go to France. While hiding from the Redcoats at the house of his mistress, Jessie Brown, he sends for his brother Henry. In spite of his philandering, Alison is the love of Jamie's life. He kisses her passionately when she arrives and Jessie feels hurt. Henry and Jamie then make plans to rendezvous later at the beach, where Henry will give Jamie the money. Once there, however, Jamie finds Redcoats waiting for him. Maj. Clarendon fires at him and Jamie falls to the sea. As his body is not found, Clarendon informs the Durrisdeer household that he is dead. Later, however, when Henry goes to search for Jamie's body, he finds Jamie waiting for him in the stable. The wounded Jamie accuses Henry of betraying him, so that he can have Ballantrae and Alison for himself. Although Henry admits that he is attracted to Alison and that Jamie's gambling and wildness are a constant embarrassment, as well as a drain on household finances, he denies that he informed the Redcoats of their plan. Jamie provokes a duel, and although he is the better sportsman, in his weakened condition, he is injured. While Henry goes for help, Burke comes for Jamie and takes him away, leaving Henry mystified at his disappearance. Jamie and Burke pay a pirate ship to take them to France, but the cruel captain, MacCauley, takes their money and heads with them for Tartugas. After five months of labor at sea, they encounter a second ship, captained by a French dandy, Arnaud. When Arnaud's men attack and board, Jamie fights MacCauley, which amuses Arnaud, who allows Jamie and Burke to live. Jamie and Arnaud form a partnership, although Arnaud is secretly planning to double-cross Jamie when he is no longer useful. Docking at Tartugas, they encounter a galleon full of riches that was seized by Capt. Mendoza. With the help of Burke and Mendoza's dancing girl Marianne, who is attracted to Jamie, they make plans to take the ship for themselves. After a fight, they succeed in taking the galleon, but then Arnaud tries to shoot Jamie. However, Jamie has anticipated Arnaud's behavior and has unloaded the gun, so the two solve the matter with swords. After Jamie kills Arnaud, Jamie and Burke take command of the galleon and return to Scotland as rich men. Posing as English gentlemen, they are able to pass through the checkpoints of Redcoats, who still consider them rebels. In Ballantrae, they find Redcoats friendly with his family and learn that Henry and Alison are betrothed. Still believing that Henry betrayed him that night on the beach and has now stolen Alison, Jamie breaks his cover and challenges Henry to a duel. However, a fight ensues with the Redcoats, and although Henry saves Jamie's life, Jamie and Burke are captured, tried, and sentenced to hang the next morning. During the night, Jessie, wracked with guilt, confesses to Alison that she betrayed Jamie that night because of jealousy, and together they make plans to free Jamie and Burke. Alison gives Jamie the Durrisdeer betrothal ring bearing the family motto, which is a signal that their escape is imminent. Later, Jessie shows up with food at the room where they are held, distracts the guard and unlocks the door. Jamie and Burke fight their way to the castle hall, and after saying farewell, escape through a secret doorway through the fireplace to a tunnel. Henry waits with horses and instructionsat the end of the tunnel, and Jamie tells him about the jewels from the galleon, which are hidden in the stable, and with which Henry will be able to pay off Jamie's gambling debts. After riding to the smuggler's cave, Jamie and Burke find Alison waiting to accompany them. Planning to start again in the New World, the three ride away. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.