Absorbing historical drama directed by Frank Launder and shot on location in southern Ireland. Stewart Granger heads the cast as a defiant Irish farmer, ably supported by Cecil Parker, Mervyn Johns, Alistair Sim and Robert Donat in a memorable cameo appearance as the famed Irish politician Parnell.
Set in 1880s County Mayo, Ireland, Captain Boycott (Cecil Parker) is the tyrannical landowner who incurs the wrath of the local farmers when he begins to evict tenants unable to pay their inflated rent. Rather than retaliate with violence, Charles Parnell (Robert Donat), president of the Land League, suggests that everyone in the area ostracise Boycott and those willing to take over the property of recently evicted farmers. Boycott and his bailiff (Mervyn Johns) defy the proclamation by installing Mark Killian (Niall MacGinnis) and his daughter Anne (Kathleen Ryan) in a recently evicted farm. Farmer Hugh Davin (Stewart Granger) is in love with Anne and the locals question his desire for their cause given such a conflict of interest.
When time comes for Boycott to harvest his crop he has to seek military help to complete the task – ruined by the expense his only hope for salvation is to win a local horse race. When Boycott’s own entry collects an injury he resorts to buying a replacement racehorse, Davin’s horse, by taking advantage of his position. He enters it in the big race, but just before the horse passes the winning post, the incendiary mood amongst the villagers explodes and they invade the track causing the race to be abandoned. It’s left to Father McKeogh (Alastair Sim) to deliver a closing sermon, suggesting that in future the farmers reject violence in favour of a more peaceful method of protest – ‘boycott’. It is from this incident that the word “boycott” entered the English language. —Britmovie.co.uk
Frank Launder left his job as a civil servant because he wanted to entertain, and that he did as a director, screenwriter, and producer — usually in partnership with Sidney Gilliat — of scores of British productions from 1928 until 1980. He is particularly remembered for the “St. Trinian’s” series of films, which began with “The Happiest Days of Your Life” (writer-producer-director, 1950), and focused on a boisterous, unruly school for girls. Together with Gilliat, Launder also wrote “The Lady Vanishes” (1939) for director Alfred Hitchcock, one of the latter’s most successful movies during his British period. The film focused on the disappearance of an older woman and how a younger woman gets caught up in intrigue in the search for the old dame.
Launder joined the Brighton Repertory Company while working as a civil servant, and wrote a play produced by the company, “There Was No Signpost”. This led to a trial as a scriptwriter, beginning with the silent “Cocktails” in 1928. Launder… read more