Master Flynn

29 Apr

Just watched this again a few days ago and was very happy with the real locations used rather than the back lot. Makes me wish Against All Flags was filmed in Europe too.
I think that many reviews in the book The Films Of Errol Flynn are a bit too critical and was happy to find this one.

Master of Ballantrae’ at Paramount
H. H. T.
Published: August 6, 1953
With plenty of good, old-fashioned muscularity crowding a highly pictorial Technicolor frame, at least three-fourths of “The Master of Ballantrae” makes a rousing, spectacular outlet for a pair of estimable adventurers, Errol Flynn and the master himself, Robert Louis Stevenson. In the new Warner Brothers arrival at the Paramount yesterday, Mr. Flynn is leading a fine, predominantly British cast through one of the liveliest, handsomest and most absurd screen free-foralls ever to leave the Victorian talespinner’s pen.

If the excessive length and staggeringly heroic exploits can be pinned on Warners and Mr. Stevenson, respectively, no one, assuredly, should question the lavish elasticity of the proceedings. It is played well by the entire cast, and seasoned throughout with some brazen drollery. The film was gleamingly authenticized in such locales as Scotland, England and Sicily.

Herb Meadow’s adaptation fittingly charts a cluttered, tumultuous odyssey for the indefatigable protagonist, leader of the fiery Durisdeer clan and fugitive champion of the Stuart Restoration, as he engineers a magnificent career in high-seas piracy and returns home, a wiser, if no less boisterous, rebel. The direction of William Keighley is equally alert and scenic, whether scouring the craggy, heather-strewn battlegrounds of the clansmen or capturing the lusty barbarism of the pirates’ island sanctuary. And since the dialogue is more often pungent than standard, the motivations and characterizations retain a surprising air of conviction, for all the flying kilts, sabers and sails.

Mr. Flynn is, in turn, bold, roguish and forgiveably self-satisfied in his best swashbuckler since “The Sea Hawk,” thirteen long years ago. The featured players, a spanking round-up, are crisp, restrained and forceful, one and all, particularly Roger Livesey and and Anthony Steel, and the ladies in the case, Beatrice Campbell and Yvonne Furneaux.

Last but not least, the truly stunning color photography of that British ace, Jack Cardiff, provides a canvas that stands as a model of its kind and fully rates the classic archive reserved for Mr. Stevenson, long, perhaps, after Mr. Flynn and company are forgotten. Meanwhile, Mr. Flynn is having himself, as well he might, a field day.

THE MASTER OF BALLANTRAE, screen play by Herb Meadow, based upon the Robert Louis Stevenson story directed by William Keighley and presented by Warner Brothers.
Jamie Durisdeer . . . . . Errol Flynn
Col. Francis Burke . . . . . Roger Livesey
Henry Durisdeer . . . . . Anthony Steel
Lady Alison . . . . . Beatrice Campbell
Jessie Brown . . . . . Yvonne Furneaux
Lord Durisdeer . . . . . Felix Aylmer
MacKellar . . . . . Mervyn Johns
Arnaud . . . . . Jack Berthier
Mendoza . . . . . Charles Goldner
Maj. Clarendon . . . . . Ralph Truman

— twinarchers


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  1. zacal

    April 29, 2016 at 3:23 pm

    This was the last “great” swashbuckler of Errol Flynn, though I’d disagree that it was his best since “The Sea Hawk”. I’d argue it was his best since “Adventures of Don Juan”.

  2. twinarchers

    April 29, 2016 at 11:23 pm

    I guess your right about that. Don Juan is better. I guess what I love about it is the real ships at sea with real water etc. No back projection going on all the time anyway. It just frustrates me that he did not have a better chance during the 1950’s when things were changing with film and color to fight the boob tube. They need to do a restoration on this one I think for Blu Ray.

  3. Gentleman Tim

    April 30, 2016 at 9:43 am

    Errol Flynn & Robert Louis Stevenson. Great Scot, what an immortal combination.


    Might this even be Errol’s best movie of The Fifties?

    And with another of his sensationally gorgeous co-stars:


    • twinarchers

      April 30, 2016 at 3:02 pm

      She is on of the most beautiful of all his ladies. He should have run off with her instead.

    • twinarchers

      April 30, 2016 at 4:39 pm

      In looking at the poster again it shows her instead of the fair haired actress that he ends up with. Interesting don’t you think? I wonder what she thought about that? At the very least the poster artist was the one that liked her best.

    • rswilltell

      May 2, 2016 at 12:55 pm

      ‘Master Of Ballentrae’ could very well be Errol Flynn’s finest film of the 1950’s. It was a hit for Warner Brothers on both sides of the Atlantic because it brought back the colorful joy of ‘Adventures Of Robin Hood’. The original novel by Robert Louis Stevenson is a much darker story than this film, and so was Flynn’s Drury character. Funny thing about Errol Flynn, as much as he swore he hated the swashbucklers when he was cast into one, he always rose to the occasion and did them better than anyone else. Yes, Drury was a dope not to run away with Yvonne Furneaux! Later her beauty draped some of the best British films including ‘The Mummy’ (1958) with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee at Hammer Films! Ralph Schiller