Monday, August 29, 2011

The Master of Ballantrae (1953)

Director: William Keighley

Starring: Errol Flynn, Roger Livesey, Anthony Steel, Beatrice Campbell, Yvonne Furneaux

More info: IMDb

Tagline: When the Bold Banners of the Crimson Crusade Clashed with the Scarlet Hordes of the King!

Plot: Scottish nobleman Jamie Durie (Flynn) rebels against his king and is forced to hide out on the open sea with his Irish partner-in-crime (Livesey) when he fails to oust the ruler. Jamie doesn't stay away for long, though -- his sights are set not only on revenge but also on winning the heart of the beautiful Lady Alison (Campbell).

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again? I could, I suppose, but not likely.

Wow. I'm a huge fan of Errol Flynn's and this is the first time I've seen a film he made after 1945. What a difference 8 years made. He was only 44 when he made this but he looks to be a man of nearly mid-50s. The years of alcohol, drugs and a fast lifestyle were taking its toll. I couldn't help but feel a bit of sadness while watching this. He's heavier, slower and tired. I've been a huge fan of his since I was a kid. In the 30s and 40s he was the most dashing, gallant and athletic actor I've ever seen. He was the man. Good looking bastard. He was loaded with so much charm and charisma, I'd probably have gone gay for him. There, I said it.

Sadness aside, it's still great to see him in a pirate adventure with lots of derring-do, colorful costumes, exotic locations and interesting characters. I grew very fond of his on-screen pal, played by Roger Livesey. He brought a lot of energy to every scene he was in, energy that was lacking from Flynn.

Flynn & Livesley

The sets, locations, costumes, look all had that classic Warner Bros. feel. Ooh, and the color! WOW! Rich beyond belief. I expect this kind of thing knocked the socks off of movie going kids back then. Too bad it was just before the advent of Cinemascope and widescreen cinema. THAT would have been something.

It's sad to see your heroes deteriorate, especially when it's by their own hand. There has never been anyone as dashing as Errol Flynn and never will be. For years I've been collecting his films with the intention of seeing them all. Maybe it would be best to start at the end of his career and work my way back to a time when Flynn was at his swashbuckling and best.

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