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THE STORY: An adventure story with lots of humor thrown in. A fictional story based on a real person, this is the story of Red Hugh, the real Prince of Donegal, Hugh O'Donell. During the 16th century reign of Queen Elizabeth I, England is at war with Spain while also having a civil war with Ireland. Fearing that the Spanish will sneak through Ireland to attack, they station troops in the countryside. The Irish clans are not pleased with the occupation and plan to rally under young Prince Donegal (played very well by Peter McEnery) to fight the resistance. He suggests an offer of treaty first, then war if it is not accepted. A prophecy stated that when "When Hugh succeeds Hugh, Ireland shall be free". When the elder Hugh dies and Red Hugh becomes Prince, many see this as their opportunity. Spies learn of these developments and Donegal is thrown in the dungeon of a castle the English are using. He is captured and escapes not once but twice. He must fight his way back to his own castle to rescue his family and his sweetheart (Susan Hampshire, having been seen in THE THREE LIVES OF THOMASINA two years earlier) that are being held hostage by the British. He leads the big battle meant to turn the tables. The film is a bit confusing in the beginning but you quickly find out what the story is about.

BEHIND THE SCENES & TRIVIA: At the time production on this film began Walt Disney had not made a full-length British swashbuckler since THE SWORD AND THE ROSE in 1953. Walt Disney decided to use an Irish-born theatrical director named Michael O'Herlihy, who had never made a movie up to this time. The screenplay was by Disney veteran Robert Westerby, (THE THREE LIVES OF THOMASINA, ZORRO episodes, and THE SCAECROW OF ROMNEY MARSH), and was based on a book "Red Hugh, Prince of Donegal" by Robert T. Reilly. The casting in the film is superb, with terrific supporting actors including Andrew Keir and Gordon Jackson. Great effort was made to be as authentic as possible for this costume period piece. Maurice Carter was the art director and Anthony Mendleson designed the costumes. Artists spent months creating a tapestry that hangs as a prop but is seen only briefly on film. Music by studio composer George Bruns who based the music on a 16th century Irish folksong "O'Donell Aboo". Peter Ellenshaw did his usual terrific job of special photographic effects, his stunning glass matte paintings made it possible to perceive different complete castles in the background of various scenes. The studio originally planned to shoot on location and scouted the real Donegal in Ireland, but the castle was a pile of rubble. They also considered Scotland, but settled on building huge sets at Pinewood studios in England. Their task was formidable with 2 castle interiors and the town of Dublin to build for starters. Specific scenes called for moats, battlements, castle gates, dungeons, long stairways, throne rooms, banquet halls, chambers, peasant cottages and more. The big banquet scene took 200 extras and 3 days to film.
The end result is similar to Disney's ROB ROY, THE HIGHLAND ROGUE in style and even better.


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