Cast & Crew
During the mid-eighteenth century reign of George II, a famous and daring highwayman rides the English countryside, stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. The masked crusader's real identity is Lord Jeremy Northwood, a once prosperous nobleman who assumes the disguise of a Quaker and resides at the Sheaves Inn. His true love, the innkeeper's beautiful daughter Bess, secretly harbors the fugitive and his accomplice Robin. In a moment alone with Bess, Robin reminisces about his and Jeremy's childhood with Lady Ellen, noting that Jeremy was betrothed to Ellen, but when he was mistakenly reported dead during war, Ellen married another, the king's choice, Lord Douglas. Later, upon Lord Douglas' invitation, Jeremy, dressed as a Quaker, attends a gala ball at the Douglas estate. The elegant but distraught Ellen begs Jeremy to allow her to intervene on his behalf to Lord Walters, the king's minister, and have Jeremy returned to his rightful station. Meanwhile among the party guests, devious Lord Barton tells the kindly Lord Herbert that he, Barton, was sent back from the American colonies because he refused to institute Walters' abusive decrees. Herbert takes Barton into his confidence and explains that there is a revolt developing in the colonies to do away with debtors' prison and bondage slavery. Upon Herbert's invitation, Barton joins a band of fellow patriots in order to find the identity of Herbert's co-conspirators for Walters. Back at the inn, Bess shares her distress and jealousy about Ellen with the mute and mad stableman Tim, who secretly loves Bess. Later that evening Jeremy and Robin saddle up to rob gala guests and their first victim is Herbert, who, being a great fan of the highwayman, gladly hands over his money and promises to detain the king's men while Jeremy and Robin escape. However, when the king's men arrest Herbert instead, Jeremy and Robin decide they must save their new ally. Back at the Douglas estate Jeremy and Robin find Herbert is being tortured for the names of his co-conspirators and the two battle the king's men for their friend's release. Herbert dies from a gunshot wound but not before he tells Jeremy the names of the twelve allies. Jeremy and Robin flee, and Walters, now afraid that the co-conspirators will rise up against him in the House of Commons, issues orders to find and jail all the men that have spoken out against him. Back at the inn a poverty-stricken woman begs Bess for money, and Bess decides she will rob even if Jeremy has stopped because of his political plans. The driver of the coach she decides to rob, however, uses a whip to knock Bess' pistol from her hand and Jeremy laughs at her feeble attempt. Furious, Bess asks him to think of the people who need his help. Jeremy promises that if he does not accomplish his mission to bring his allies before the House of Lords, he will return to being a highwayman. Determined to free his allies, Jeremy sneaks into Walters' estate, holds him at sword's point and forces him to sign a blank document which Jeremy later uses to release his men. In his office, Walters incites Barton to crush the possible insurgency by killing the visiting Lord Oglethorpe, leader and friend of the poor. Barton then visits the Douglas estate and means to tell Douglas of the highwayman's true identity and his plan, but when he finds only Ellen at home, she promises to pass the news along immediately to her husband. True to her heart, Ellen instead goes to the inn and warns Jeremy. Upon seeing Ellen, Bess intuits that Jeremy will not return alive from his next mission but Jeremy assures her he will be back by moonlight. The next day, Oglethorpe arrives at the Douglas estate and Jeremy and Robin sneak into his room to warn him of the danger. As the three are about to escape, the king's men meet them and a sword fight ensues. Meanwhile at the inn, Tim, feeling Jeremy has betrayed Bess, tells the king's men the highwayman's identity and the king's men tie up Bess and wait for Jeremy's return. As Jeremy approaches the inn, Bess, wanting to signal Jeremy about the trap, uses the only gun within her reach, which is pointed at her chest, and shoots herself. Hearing the shot Jeremy stops short and flees but is found later by Robin, who brings him the blood-soaked lace of Bess' dress. Heartbroken and maddened with anger, Jeremy rides back to the inn, straight into the king's men's fire.
Bernard W. Burton
Bernard W. Burton
Hal E. Chester
Herschel Burke Gilbert
Wilton R. Holm
Clifford D. Shank
And still of a winter's night, they say, when the wind is in the trees, When the moon is a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas, When the road is a ribbon of moonlight looping the purple moor, A highwayman comes riding, riding, riding, A highwayman comes riding up to the old inn door.- NARRATOR
Some of the onscreen crew and cast credits of the viewed print were not readable; the above credits were amended from a studio production sheet. Hollywood Reporter items from 1946 and 1947 noted that James S. Burkett, a Monogram producer, had purchased Alfred Noyes's poem and consulted with the author while developing the screenplay, and negotiated with major studios for a release. A August 15, 1949 Hollywood Reporter news item noted that Allied Artists then purchased the poem's screen rights from Burkett in addition to a treatment and screenplay prepared by him. According to a July 30, 1998 Hollywood Reporter news item, blacklisted writer Henry Blankfort, under the pseudonym January Jeffries, wrote the final screenplay for the film. His credit was officially restored by the WGA in 1998.
During the rule of King George II, the period in which the film was set, a well-known reformist named James Edward Oglethorpe, possibly the basis for the film character "Lord Oglethorpe," presided over an English Parliamentary committee that brought about prison reforms. In 1733 Oglethorpe accompanied settlers to America and in 1734 founded Savannah, GA. He returned to England in 1743 to resume his parliamentary career.
According to 1951 Hollywood Reporter news items, Richard Bare was to direct the film, but was replaced by Lesley Selander. Florence Marly and Rory Calhoun were considered for the leads in the film, according to a April 22, 1950 Los Angeles Times article, but were later replaced. Hollywood Reporter news items from 1951 add the following actors to the cast: Faire Binney, Robert Karns, James Logan, Vernon Steele, George Slocum, Keith McConnell, Lane Chandler, Marjorie Bennet, Sue Carlton, Roland Varnu, Frank Hagney, Mark Lowell, Peter Foster, Toby Perkins, Trevor Ward, Michael Mark, Ivo Henderson, Terry Gilkyson, Rocky Shahan, Gil Stuart, Phyllis Morris, Post Parks, Isham Constable, George Kirby, Pat O'Moore and David Cavendish; however, their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. Although a February 1951 Hollywood Reporter news item reported that actor Alan Napier, who portrayed "Lord Barton" in the film, would also narrate, Brian Aherne was the narrator of the released film. Portions of the film were shot at the Ray Corrigan Ranch in Simi Vally, CA.
Columbia also produced a film loosely based on Noyes's poem, The Lady and the Bandit, which was released in 1951 (see below). In 1958, McGraw-Hill produced a short film version of Noyes's poem, also titled The Highwayman.