Reviewed by JONATHAN LEWIS:         

THE MASTER OF BALLANTRAE. Warner Brothers, 1953. Errol Flynn, Roger Livesey, Anthony Steel, Beatrice Campbell, Yvonne Furneaux, Felix Aylmer, Mervyn Johns. Screenplay: Herb Meadow, based on the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson. Director: William Keighley.

   I didn’t go into this one with the highest of expectations. After all, the Errol Flynn of the 1950s was a far cry from his earlier more exuberant self. Similarly, while I can appreciate costumers for what they primarily are – escapist entertainment – I can’t say that I find many of them to be among my favorite movies. Still, with a script loosely adapted from Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel of the same name, there were reasons to be hopeful that this feature would surpass some of Flynn’s other movies from the same era.

   So consider me pleasantly surprised. For The Master of Ballantrae happens to be an entertaining, fun, and thrilling adventure film that has something to offer everyone apart from the most jaded cynic. Flynn, despite being significantly older and heavier than he was when he portrayed Robin Hood, is in top form. He’s charming, daring, and yes, has a thing for a lady. Or ladies.

   Flynn portrays Jamie Durie, the titular Master of Ballantrae. He’s a Scottish nobleman who decides to fight for the Scottish side in the Jacobite rebellion. It’s also the losing side.

   Forced into exile in the West Indies along with his right-hand man, Irishman Colonel Francis Burke (Roger Livesey), Jamie plans his return to Scotland wherein he will seek revenge for his brother Henry’s (Anthony Steel) alleged betrayal. He also has his mind set on reuniting with his fiancée, Lady Allison.

   Although the plot is rather formulaic and predictable, it nevertheless moves forward at a steady pace. Flynn’s character is a totally likable rogue, one the audience will be rooting for throughout his many escapades. As I said, it’s a fun escapist adventure that benefits greatly from its own location photography, especially in the Scottish Highlands.