A Narrative Account of the Film “Rob Roy The Highland Rogue”
The following is based upon conversations with a number of local people who were extras in the film “Rob Roy—The Highland Rogue “much of which was made on location in and around the village of Kinlochard.
The film was a Walt Disney Production, with the director Harold French, and the stars included Richard Todd, Glynis Johns, James Robertson Justice and Archie Duncan. The film lasts 81 minutes, cost about £1500 per day to make and came in at a total cost of about £400, 000 (1). It was filmed on location in the spring of 1953.
The film portrays Rob Roy as a sort of Robin Hood in kilts, but Todd was described as a colourless hero He was born in Ireland in 1919 and died in 2009. He trained at Sandhurst and had 6 years active service in World War2. He was a great supporter of remembrance events. According to locals he got hurt after a few days of filming and was generally inactive. He and some of the crew attended ceilidhs at the log cabin in Aberfoyle.
Glynis Johns was born in 1923 in South Africa but was apparently proud of her Welsh roots. She was best known for her role as the suffragette in Mary Poppins in 1964 and was apparently blessed with a uniquely appealing voice. She is still alive in 2021 and has been married 4 times.
Walter Joynson was a real local character described as a gentle giant with a straggling beard. He was born in 1913 and died in 1975. He had lost the sight in his left eye as a result of a fire-arms accident. He lived for a long time at the Altskeith and latterly at Ledard. His ashes were scattered on Loch Chon. He had a great passion for birds of prey and was a very diligent falconer and he features in a postcard as The Falconer of Scotland. He played a major role in the scenes on the water and was the helmsman on the boat. Peter Joynson remembered that the main stars came to the Glassert for tea and that local people were paid £10 per person for the crowd scenes.
Wilf Luke who was a local extra played in several roles. In this photo on the Trossachs Road Wilf was standing in for Archie Duncan.
He was born and brought up in Bradninch near Exeter. He was called up in 1940 and was posted amongst other places to Scotland. He started in Clacton on Sea, then Crieff and then Aberfoyle and Islay. Overseas he saw service after D day in Caen and Bremen. He met his future wife Margaret here, where they lived all their lives. Wilf worked for the Forestry 1946 and was the main union man locally. He died in 2011 at the age of 95.
Wilf enjoyed spending time with some other extras especially soldiers from the 1st Battalion of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders who were based in Stirling Castle. Apparently, the ambulance was busy with them as they took the fighting very seriously.
Margaret Luke lived in Kinlochard nearly all her life-she and Wilf were amongst the first people to move into the Forestry Houses in Kinlochard in 1951. She met Wilf when she was living on the farm at Duchray Castle with her family the Smiths. She used to deliver fresh milk all around this area.
More local extras Bill Smith Gertie Kinnaird and Wilf Luke waiting for some of the action. Bill was Wilf’s brother-in-law. Gertie was a warden at Ardross House Youth Hostel.
Hettie Smith was born in Inversnaid but lived in Kinlochard for much of her life. This photograph was taken at Brig of Turk which was used for the wedding scene and Hettie was understudy to Glynis Johns.
This is the funeral scene taking Rob Roy’s mother to a burial site in Couligarten Bay. The sides of the Boat had to be built up and it was drawn by a motorised boat. These scenes took place on Loch Ard.
The Black Linn is a couple of miles above Kinlochard. Apparently, the scenes took a lot of takes and several guns ended up in the deep gorge. It might have something to do with rum being provided to the actors and extras.
A major controversy took place as the soldiers did not get any extra pay for taking part. A question raised in Parliament and the Secretary of State for War advised that some money had been given to the government and that the soldiers were all volunteers. One soldier was quoted as saying “The food on location was grand-a change from Army cooking “. Big catering vans were based in the locations. The Chinese Lounge at Forest Hills was where the extras met to put on their film attire.
Mrs Crawford of Auchentoig (between Buchyvie and Ward Toll) supplied the tartan which was worn by the clansmen. Ironically the building was attacked in August 1710 by Rob Roy who forced the bonnet laird John Maclachlan to surrender by setting fire to the base of the door.
Hugh McGregor from Ballinton, near Thornhill supplied the horses-he was a renowned Clydesdale horse breeder.
Alex Bryce was the location director for Rob Roy. He started his life as a salesman for a company called Rossleigh who had a motorcycle showroom in Dumbarton Road. In 1927 he was the first man to ride a motorbike to the top of Ben Lomond-a Dunet motorbike, died in 1960 at the age of 55.
Bryce’s wife was from Aberfoyle (a Johnston from Aberfoyle Garage) and his late daughter was an actress called Elspeth Gill.
The Royal Command Film performance was on 26th October 1953 and the summary of a critic was:
“It is no great film but it avoids being either silly or genteel and for the next school holidays should be a great favourite”.
Local people were taken by bus to Glasgow to see it on the big screen and at the end the contribution of local people was acknowledged.
James Kennedy March 2021.
- The Picturegoer w/ending October 24 1953 p. col. 1.