Disney Film History: Rob Roy, The Highland Rogue
I’ve covered tons of live action films in the past few weeks including the films made with money made during WWII in the U.K. This articles topic is the last of those British films and to be honest, I’m glad we have come to the end of that tunnel, but more on that in a minute. I do want to talk about this film, which may have the best back story out of all of the films made with that WWII money. To talk about Rob Roy the film we have to talk about Rob Roy the person as well as the historical novel by Sir Walter Scott.
Rob Roy, or Robert Roy McGregor, was most notably known for being part of the Jacobite Uprisings, battles that were fought through the early 18th century over restoring King James VII of England to the throne after he was brought down during the Dutch invasions which was named the Glorious Revolution. Through the uprisings, McGregor became a folk hero. So much so, that by 1817, Sir Walter Scott wrote a fictional novel about the historical events that take place during the uprisings including the folk hero himself. The book would be met with critical acclaim including Robert Louis Stevenson, the author of Treasure Island, claiming it to be the best novel of all time.
That is where Disney steps in. Loosely based on both real events and the book by Scott. Disney still had money wrapped up in the U.K. from WWII and the last of that money went to this film. Much of the crew who had worked on the previous 3 films from England came back for this one. Richard Todd, who had played the lead in both Robin Hood and in The Sword and the Rose came in for the lead role of Rob Roy. Glynis Johns and James Robertson Justice also returned to play characters in the film. The only crew member who did not return to be a part of Rob Roy was Ken Annakin, the director of the previous films, who had contractual disputes with another company. Harold French was brought in due to his accomplishments in Brithis Films up to that point. Much of French’s story takes us into real places instead of Sir Scott’s fictionalized version.
The film made it’s official premiere on February 3rd, 1954 in the U.S. By this time, Walt Disney had moved on to thinking of his new park and put less attention of detail into his movies. Because of that I think this film suffered a lack of good pacing. I wouldn’t say that this film was the worst of the 4 British made films, but it doesn’t stand out at all like some of the other films of the 1950s do. I am personally glad to see this be the end of the British film era because it freed up the studio and gave the studio a chance to get their feet wet. Moving forward, Disney would crank out great live action films like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea or Old Yeller.
What are your thoughts on the British films of the 1950s? Do you have a favorite? Have you seen any of them? I’m personally not a fan of any of these films outside of Treasure Island. Leave your comments below!