Wednesday, September 15, 2021

The 50th Anniversary of Columbo

It was 50 years ago today, on September 15 1971, that Columbo debuted as one of the rotating television shows on The NBC Mystery Movie. It would prove to be the most successful shows on The NBC Mystery Movie. It outlived The NBC Mystery Movie itself. When The NBC Mystery Movie ended its run in 1977, Columbo continued to air as a series of television movies in the 1977-1978 season. Columbo was revived in the 1988-1989 season as one of the shows on The ABC Mystery Movie. When The ABC Mystery Movie went off the air at the end of the 1989-1990 season, Columbo would continue on ABC as a series of TV movies that lasted until 2003.

Columbo centred on Lt. Columbo (played by Peter Falk), a detective with the Los Angeles Police Department. Lt. Columbo was usually unshaven and almost always wore a rumpled raincoat. He smoked cheap cigars. On the surface he appeared to be bumbling and overly deferential to the point that he was almost always apologizing. While Columbo might appear bumbling, he possessed a razor sharp mind. He was an excellent judge of human nature, a sharp observer who picked up on clues others might miss, and a genius when it came to deductive reasoning.

While Lt. Columbo was a sharp contrast to other television detectives, the show itself was a sharp contrast to other mystery series. Quite simply, it was a prime example of the inverted detective story, in which the crime is shown at the beginning of the story and the culprit is known to the reader (or in the case of Columbo, the viewer) from the start. Indeed, one gets the feeling even Lt. Columbo realizes who has committed a murder from the beginning. It is just a matter of gathering enough evidence before he can arrest them.

Here it must be pointed out that Lt. Columbo actually pre-dates the show bearing his name. The character's origins go back to "May I Come In" by Richard Levinson and William Link, first published in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, March 1960. In the story there is a smallish detective named Lt. Fisher. Richard Levinson and William Link adapted the story as the episode "Enough Rope"for The Chevy Mystery Show, which aired on July 30 1960. In "Enough Rope" Lt. Fisher became Lt. Columbo, played by Bert Freed. Messrs. Levinson and Link were disappointed with how the episode turned out, and then set about adapting "Enough Rope" as a play. The play was titled Prescription: Murder and featured Thomas Mitchell (who played Uncle Billy in It's a Wonderful Life) in the role of Lt. Columbo. While Lt. Columbo was only a secondary character in the play, it became clear audiences loved the character.

It was for that reason that when Prescription: Murder was adapted as a television movie, Lt. Columbo occupied centre stage. The role of Lt. Columbo was first offered to Lee J. Cobb, who turned out to be unavailable. It was then offered to Bing Crosby, who turned it down. The role finally went to Peter Falk, who had appeared in such movies as Murder Inc. (1960), for which he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor, and The Great Race (1965), as well as the TV series The Trials of O'Brien. Prescription: Murder aired on NBC on February 20 1968. The movie proved so successful that NBC wanted a series spun off from it, but Richard Levinson, William Link, and Peter Falk did not want to do a regularly scheduled television show at the time.
vFor the 1971-1972 season NBC was planing an umbrella series, The NBC Mystery Movie. As an umbrella series The NBC Mystery Movie would rotate various programs in the same time slot. One of the programs NBC wanted as part of The NBC Mystery Movie was a Columbo series. Fortunately, Richard Levinson, William Link, and Peter Falk were more agreeable to a regular TV series at this point, and so a pilot, "Ransom for a Dead Man," was commissioned. "Ransom for a Dead Man" aired on March 1 1971 and proved to be a success. Columbo was then added to the rotation of The NBC Mystery Movie, along with McCloud and McMillan & Wife.

Columbo became the most popular shows to emerge from The NBC Mystery Movie and in many respects it easy to see why. Much of the appeal of the show was Peter Falk's performance as Lt. Columbo. He was nominated for ten Emmys for playing the character, and won five. In addition to Peter Falk, Columbo always featured big name guest stars. The culprit in every single episode was always some big name star, and murderers on the show were played by such actors as Eddie Albert, Anne Baxter, Robert Culp, Martin Landau, Ross Martin, and many others. The murder victims were often big name stars as well. Among the actors who appeared as victims on Columbo were Richard Anderson, Pat Crowley, Anne Francis, Martin Milner, Martin Sheen,  Forrest Tucker, and others. Big name guest stars even appeared in secondary roles, some of which were sometimes rather small. In the episode "Negative Reaction," Larry Storch played a driving instructor. In "Lovely But Lethal," Vincent Rice played the head of a cosmetics company.

Beyond the appeal of the show's many guest stars, Columbo probably also appeals to many because it pits an everyman, Lt. Columbo, against the rich and powerful. The murders that Lt. Columbo investigate always seem to take place among the affluent. The murderers on Columbo were almost always rich, powerful, and intelligent. They also tended to be arrogant, leading them to underestimate the overly polite, often bumbling Lt. Columbo, much to their eternal regret at the end of the episode. Speaking as a fan of the show since childhood, I think most viewers take great satisfaction in Lt. Columbo taking down rich, powerful, and overly arrogant individuals a peg or two.

The success of Columbo would lead to a series of books, the first of which was published in 1972. There would be another series of books published between 1994 and 1999. In 2010, Columbo co-creator William Link  wrote an anthology of short stories featuring the character, The Columbo Collection. It was published in 2010.

The last episode of the original run of Columbo, "The Conspirators," aired on May 13 1978. NBC was not finished with Columbo, as a spinoff, Mrs. Columbo, debuted on NBC on February 26 1979. On the original show, Columbo often referred to his wife, but Mrs. Columbo ignored the continuity of the original show to the point that it was unbelievable. Kate Mulgrew played Kate Columbo, supposedly the wife of Lt. Columbo. The casting of Kate Mulgrew in the role posed some problems with continuity, in that at the time Miss Mulgrew was only 24 years old. That means when Prescription: Murder first aired, she would only been 13. As it is, the show had been launched over the objections of Columbo creators Richard Levinson and William Link. As time passed the show would be renamed Kate Columbo, with Kate having gotten later. Still later, the show was renamed Kate the Detective and Kate Loves a Mystery, with the producers entirely ditching the show's original premise. Regardless, the 1989 revival of Columbo would entirely ignore Mrs. Columbo, making it clear the two shows did not share continuity.

It was in the 1988-1989 season that Universal Television and ABC sought to revive the NBC Mystery Movie concept with The ABC Mystery Movie. Columbo was one of the original programs on this new umbrella series, along with Gideon Oliver and B. L. Stryker. Columbo proved to be the only show on The ABC Mystery Movie to have any success, outlasting the umbrella series by several years. The last episode of Columbo, "Columbo Likes the Nightlife," aired on ABC on January 30 2003.

While the original run ended in 1978 and the revival in 2003, Columbo has persisted in reruns ever since the last episode of the original run. To this day Lt. Columbo remains one of the most popular characters on American television. It is safe to say that Columbo will still be around for another fifty years.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

TV Writer Irma Kalish Passes On

Irma Kalish, who wrote episodes of such classic shows as F Troop, Family Affair, All in the Family, and others, died on September 2 2021 at the age of 96. The cause was complications from pneumonia. She often wrote with her husband, Austin Kalish.

Irma Kalish was born Irma Ginsberg on October 6 1924. She graduated from Syracuse University and began working as a magazine writer. She soon shifted to comedy writing. She married Austin Kalish in 1948 and the two moved to the West Coast. The couple then got a job writing for the radio show The Martin and Lewis Show, showing Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.

Mr. and Mrs. Kalish eventually moved into television.  Irma Kalish's first television writing credit was The Millionaire episode "The Philip Sargent Story," co-written with Seelig Lester. In the Sixties Mrs. Kalish wrote several episodes of F Troop, Family Affair, and My Three Sons. She also wrote episodes of the shows The Patty Duke Show, Gidget, I Dream of Jeannie, Gidget, My Favourite Martian, Please Don't Eat the Daisies, The Hero, That Girl, He & She, Cimarron Strip, The Flying Nun, and Nanny and the Professor.

In the Seventies Irma and Austin Kalish served as executive producers on the sitcom Good Times. They also wrote several episodes of the series. They also served as producers on the short lived series Good Heavens and wrote several episodes of that show as well. They wrote several episodes of All in the Family. Among their work in that decade was the controversial two-part episode "Maude's Dilemma" of the TV show Maude, in which the title character considers whether or not she should have an abortion. Irma Kalish also wrote episodes of the shows Anna and the King, The Bob Newhart ShowThe Brian Keith Show, Apple's Way, Dusty's Trail, and Carter County, as well as several TV movies.

In the Eighties Irma Kalish served as a producer on the shows Too Close for Comfort and Oh Madeline. She served as an executive producer on The Facts of Life, 227, and Valerie. She wrote episodes of the shows Too Close for Comfort, Foot in the Door, Oh Madeline, Finder of Lost Loves, The Facts of Life, and 227. Mrs. Kalish also co-wrote the TV reunion movie I Dream of Jeannie..15 Years Later. She was one of the co-creators of the short-lived sitcom Sugar and Spike and co-wrote the pilot. Her final writing credit was co-writing an episode of The Famous Jett Jackson in 1998.

>With regards to movies, Irma and Austin Kalish co-wrote the screenplay for the movie Keep Off the Grass! (1975)

Irma Kalish was an active member of the Writers Guild of America. She served on both the board and as a vice president. She also served on the board of the Motion Picture and Television Fund for twenty years. She was one of the first presidents of Women in Film.

As a writer Irma Kalish was certainly versatile, both with and without her husband Austin Kalish. She could write for comedies in multiple genres. You wrote some of the best episodes of the broad spoof F Troop, but at the same time she and Austin Kalish could handle serious topics (such as in the case of "Maude's Dilemma") with sensitivity while still remaining funny. She wrote several hours of some of the funniest classic sitcoms on television, everything from I Dream of Jeannie to Too Close for Comfort. She was also a pioneer. When Irma Kalish began writing for television, there were only a few women in the medium. She paved the way for other women to work in television. Irma Kalish may not be a recognizable name to the average person, but she provided them with many hours of quality television.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Godspeed Don Collier

Don Collier, who starred on the TV Westerns as Outlaws, The High Chaparral, and The Young Riders, and appeared in the John Wayne movies El Dorado (1966), The War Wagon (1967), and The Undefeated (1969), died today, September 13 2021, at the age of 92. The cause was lung cancer.

Don Collier was born on October 17 1928 in Santa Monica, California. He served in both the United States Navy and the Merchant Marine. Following his service he worked on a cattle ranch in San Fernando Valley owned by actor Francis Lederer. Mr. Lederer asked Don Collier to to join the drama classes that he conducted there. He attended Hardin-Simmons University on a football scholarship, but dropped out after his freshman year. He worked odd jobs for four years before returning to acting, studying acting under Estelle Harman.

Don Collier made his film debut in a bit part in Twelve Hours to Kill in 1960. That same year he appeared in the movie Seven Ways from Sundown (1960) with Audie Murphy. He made his television debut in the second episode of Bonanza, "The Mission. That same season he was one of the leads in the Western Outlaws in 1960. On the show Mr. Collier played Deputy Marshal Will Foreman. In the second season Will Foreman was promoted to United States Marshall and he was the show's primary lead.

In the Sixties Don Collier played Sam Butler, the foreman of the title ranch on the TV series The High Chaparral. He guest starred on the shows Bonanza, Wide County, Temple Houston, Perry Mason, Gunsmoke, The Virginian, Profiles in Courage, Wagon Train, Kraft Suspense Theatre, Peyton Place, Branded, The Wackiest Ship in the Army, Death Valley Days, Hondo, and Land of the Giants. He appeared in the movies Safe at Home! (1962), Moment to Moment (1966), Incident at Phantom Hill (1966), Paradise, Hawaiian Style (1966), El Dorado (1966), The War Wagon (1967), 5 Card Stud (1968), The Undefeated (1969), and Flap (1970).

p>In the early Seventies Mr. Collier continued to appear on The High Chaparral. He guest starred on The Man and the City, Bonanza, The Waltons, Banacek, Gunsmoke, Chase, Little House on the Prairie, Sara, and How the West Was Won. He appeared in the mini-series Aspen and The Sacketts. For eight years in the Seventies, Don Collier appeared as the Gum Fighter in commercial for Hubba Bubba bubble gum.

In the Eighties Don Collier played storekeeper William Tompkins on The Young Riders. He guest starred on Little House on the Prairie and Highway to Heaven. He appeared in the mini-series The Winds of War and War and Remembrance. He appeared in the movie The Cellar (1988) and Kid (1990).

In the Nineties Don Collier continued to appear on The Young Riders. He guest starred on the TV shows Renegade and Legend. He appeared in the reunion movie Gunsmoke: One Man's Justice and the reboot movie Bonanza: Under Attack. He appeared in the movies Benefit of the Doubt (1993) and Tombstone (1993). From the Naughts onward he appeared in the movies Jake's Corner (2008), Bill Tilghman and the Outlaws (2019), and Legend (2020).

Don Collier was a remarkable actor. While he will likely always be remembered as Sam from The High Chaparral, he played a wide variety of roles in his career. He appeared on Bonanza no less than five times, playing a different character each time. In the episode "The Good Samaritan" he played Wade Tyree, a friend of Hoss who has just been freshly jilted by his sweetheart. In "Credit for a Kill" he played a sheriff about as far removed as Wade Tyree as one could get. And while Don Collier is generally known for playing good guys, he did play villains on occasion. In The War Wagon he played one of the villain's henchmen. Throughout his career he played a variety of roles, from a physician on The Waltons to Admiral Russ Carton in War and Remembrance.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

The 20th Anniversary of 9/11

It was twenty years ago today, on the morning of September 11 2001,  that the terrorist organization al-Quaeda launched four attacks against the United States of America. It began at 8:46 AM Eastern Daylight Saving Time when a plane hit the North Tower of the World Trade Centre. It was at 9:03 AM that another plane hit the South Tower of the World Trade Centre. At 9:37 AM Eastern Daylight Saving Time a plane hit the west side of the Pentagon. A fourth plane, United Airlines Flight 93, was due to hit a location in Washington, D.C. Having learned of what had happened to the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon, several heroic passengers attempted to seize control of the pane from the cowards who had hijacked it. In the ensuing struggle, the plane crashed in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania at 10:03 AM Eastern Daylight Saving Time.

I would like to take this time to remember those who died at the World Trade Centre, the Pentagon, and on Flight 93 twenty years ago today.

Friday, September 10, 2021

The Late Great Michael Constantine

Michael Constantine, who starred on the classic television sitcom Room 222 and appeared in the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002), died on August 31 2021 at the age of 94.

Michael Constantine was born Gus Efstratiou on May 22 1927 in Reading, Pennsylvania. His parents were both immigrants from Greece. He graduated from Reading High School and for a time he was the manager of a local grocery store's dairy department. It was a friend who had left for New York City in order to become an actress that convinced him to pursue a career in acting.

Michael Constantine studied acting with actor Howard Da Silva. He made his debut on Broadway as a replacement in Inherit the Wind. Later in the Fifties he appeared in the plays Compulsion and The Miracle Worker. In the Sixties he appeared on Broadway in The Egg and Arturo Ui.

Michael Constantine made his debut on television in an episode of Armstrong Circle Theatre in 1958. In 1959 he guest starred on the shows Brenner, The Catholic Hour, The Big Story, and Deadline. In 1960 he guest starred on The Play of the Week. In the Sixties he was a regular on the short-lived sitcom Hey, Landlord, on which he played photographer Jack Ellenhorn. It was in 1969 that he began a five year stint as Principal Seymour Kaufman on Room 222. He made several guest appearances on The Untouchables, playing a different character each time. He also guest starred on the shows The Asphalt Jungle, Cain's Hundred, The New Breed, The Detectives, Target: The Corruptors, The Defenders, Naked City, Dr. Kildare, Ben Casey, Sam Benedict, The Beachcomber, The Lloyd Bridges Show, The Dakotas, Vacation Playhouse, Channing, The Eleventh Hour, The Greatest Show on Earth, 77 Sunset Strip, Arrest and Trial, The Richard Boone Show, The Twilight Zone, The Great Adventure, The Rogues, Slattery's People, The Outer Limits, Profiles in Courage, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Trials of O'Brien, Perry Mason, Death Valley Days, Hogan's Heroes, The Double Life of Henry Phyfe, My Favorite Martian, Run for Your Life, The Dick Van Dyke Show, 12 O' Clock High, The Jean Arthur Show, I Spy, T.H.E. Cat, The Road West, Combat!, Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre, The Fugitive, Dundee and the Culhane, Iron Horse, Ironside, The Invaders, The Flying Nun, Gunsmoke, The Danny Thomas Hour, The Good Guys, Mission: Impossible, The Virginian, and The Name of the Game.

In the Seventies he continued to star on Room 222. He played the lead on the short-lived sitcom Sirota's Court. He played The Sorcerer in several episodes of the "Electra Woman and Dyna Girl" segment of The Krofft Supershow. He guest starred on the television shows The Odd Couple; The Mary Tyler Moore Show; Love, American Show; The Bold Ones: The New Doctors; The Streets of San Francisco; Kojak; The Manhunter; Police Woman, MacMillan & Wife; Ellery Queen; and Fantasy Island. He appeared in the mini-series Harold Robbins' 79 Park Avenue and Roots: The Next Generation, as well as several TV movies.

In the Eighties Michael Constantine guest starred on the shows Vega$; Trapper John, M.D.; Palmerstown, U.S.A.; Darkroom; American Playhouse; Lou Grant; It Takes Two; Benson; Quincy, M.E.; The Powers of Matthew Star; Amanda's; The Fall Guy; Matt Houston; The Love Boat; Hotel; Mike Hammer; Mama's Family; Masquerade; Finder of Lost Loves; Airwolf; Highway to Heaven; The Greatest Adventure: Stories from the Bible; Remington Steele; Blacke's Magic; Crazy Like a Fox; Magnum, P.I.; MacGyver; The Law and Harry McGraw; Simon & Simon; Probe; Friday the 13th: The Series; Murder, She Wrote; Hunter; Snoops; Free Spirit; Island Son; and Midnight Caller.

In the Nineties Mr. Constantine guest starred on the shows Homicide: Life on the Street, Law & Order, The Cosby Mysteries, New York News, and Cosby. In the Naughts he reprised his role as Gus from the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding in the short-lived sitcom My Big Fat Greek Life. He guest starred on the shows Judging Amy, In-Laws, and Cold Case.

Michael Constantine made his film debut in The Last Mile in 1959. In the Sixties he appeared in the movies The Hustler (1961), Island of Love (1963), Lonnie (1963), Quick, Before It Melts (1964), Beau Geste (1966), Hawaii (1966), In Enemy Country (1968), Skidoo (1968), If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium (1969), Justine (1969), Don't Drink the Water (1969), and The Reivers (1969).

In the Seventies he appeared in the movies Peeper (1975), Voyage of the Damned (1976), and The North Avenue Irregulars (1979). In the Eighties Michael Constantine appeared in the movies Forty Days of Musa Dagh (1982), Pray for Death (1985), In the Mood (1987), Prancer (1989), and By a Thread (1990). From the Nineties into the Teens he appeared in the movies Deadfall (1993), My Life (1993), The Juror (1996), Thinner (1996), My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002), and My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 (2016).

Michael Constantine was a remarkable actor. He excelled as Seymour Kaufman, the principal with the dry wit, on Room 222. He even won an Emmy for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in Comedy for the role. Of course, he will also be remembered as the Windex wielding father of the bride, Gus, in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Over the years he played many different roles, all of them well. While he was only on screen briefly in The Hustler, he remains memorable as Big John. He was also memorable as U.S. Army veteran Jack Harmon in If It's Tuesday, It Must Be Belgium. And while the characters for which Michael Constantine is best known tend to rather pleasant, he could play villains. In The Untouchables episode "The King of Champagne," he played Edmund Wald, a bottle manufacturer who decides to start illegally making champagne (keep in mind The Untouchables was set during Prohibition). Of course, he also did a turn as campy villain The Sorcerer on "Electra Woman and Dyna Girl." Michael Constantine was capable of very nuanced performances. In the Twilight Zone episode "I Am the Night--Colour Me Black," Michael Constantine played a sheriff who was conflicted about a man who is about to be executed. Michael Constantine was a truly great actor who gave many good performances throughout his life.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Why Is TCM Showing Noir Alley So Late on Saturday Night?

Ever since it first began airing on Turner Classic Movies, I have been a huge fan of Noir Alley, the programming block dedicated to film noir. While Noir Alley originally only aired at 9:00 AM Central on Sunday, they eventually began showing it at 11:00 PM Central on Saturday as well. Given I am not a morning person, I have preferred watching Noir Alley on Saturday night ever since TCM started doing so. Indeed, I am usually just waking up at 9:00 AM on any given day of the week!

Unfortunately, of late TCM has been showing Noir Alley later than 11:00 Central on Saturday night. Three out of the four airings of Noir Alley in July did not begin until 11:30 PM Central. Last week, once again, Noir Alley did not air until 11:30 PM on Saturday. This week is even worse. Noir Alley won't air until 12:00 Midnight Central. While I am willing to stay up late those times when TCM shows Noir Alley at 11:30 PM on Saturday, 12:00 Midnight is a bit late even for me. My choices seem to be either to DVR it or get up early Sunday morning to watch it.

I know for a fact that I am not the only person who doesn't like it when Noir Alley airs later than 11:00 PM on Saturday, as I have seen others complain about it on Twitter as well. And, going by the number of TCMParty participants on Twitter, I think they might well have more viewers for the Saturday night showing of Noir Alley than they do the Sunday morning showing. The TCMParties for Noir Alley are always bigger on Saturday night than they are on Sunday morning, sometimes much bigger. I would think that TCM would then want to take advantage of the huge audience for noir on Saturday night and air Noir Alley consistently at 11:00 PM Central.

Of course, as displeased as I am with TCM airing Noir Alley late on Saturday night, I know much of why they have been doing so. Quite simply on Saturday night has been the fact that TCM has been showing two movies over 120 minutes regularly on Saturday night. For instance, this Saturday they are showing To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) followed by The Hustler (1961). Because both films clock in at over two hours, that pushes Noir Alley back to a much later time slot. While I love both To Kill a Mockingbird and The Hustler (To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my favourite movies of all time), I would much prefer TCM only showed one of the two movies on Saturday night and followed it with a shorter movie so that Noir Alley begins on time. If TCM wants to show two big movies back to back, they can always do so on another night of the week when there is no regularly scheduled, late night programming that will be disrupted.

Anyway, I hate complaining about TCM and I often think we should be thankful that we have it at all. That having been said, airing Noir Alley late seems to have become a regular occurrence of late and it is starting to grate on my nerves. When Noir Alley only aired on Sunday morning, I sometimes missed it because I overslept. It would be much easier if I could simply tune in at 11:00 on Saturday night and watch it before I go to bed as I usually do.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Rob Roy (1995)

When it comes to Scottish folk heroes, only a few are better known than Rob Roy McGregor, most often referred to only as "Rob Roy." A cattleman by trade, he borrowed a good deal of money to enlarge his herd. Unfortunately, his chief herdsman disappeared, which led Rob Roy to default on his loan. This led to him being labelled an outlaw. It was after  James Graham, 1st Duke of Montrose seized Rob Roy's property that Rob Roy began a feud against the Duke. Another version of the story is that Rob Roy's property was seized following the Jacobite Uprising of 1715 and that the Duke of Montrose bought the property in 1720 from the Commissioners of Enquiry. Either way, Rob Roy continued his feud against the Duke of Montrose  until 1722. In doing so he would attain fame that lasts to this day. Indeed, it was in 1723 that The Highland Rogue, a fictionalized story about Rob Roy was published. Sir Walter Scott's 1817 work Rob Roy would only add to his fame.

Since then there have been several works about Rob Roy, of which the 1995 movie Rob Roy might be the most famous. With regards to film, there were two adaptations before the 1995 film. Rob Roy (1922) was released in the silent era. Walt Disney also made a film based on Rob Roy's story, Rob Roy: The Highland Rogue (1953). Rob Roy (1995) was very loosely based on the novel Rob Roy by Sir Walter Scott and it did depart from history a good deal as well.

While Rob Roy (1995) wasn't particularly faithful to Sir Walter Scott's book or Rob Roy's actual life, it was shot in actual locations in Scotland. Among the locations were Glen Coe, Glen Tarbert, Drummond Castle, Crichton Castle, Rannoch Moor, and many others. Some of the locations in the Highlands could only be accessed by helicopter.

If the locations in Rob Roy were all genuinely Scottish, it must be pointed out that its leading man wasn't. Playing Rob Roy was Liam Neeson, who was born in Ballymena, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. While Liam Neeson is Irish, he did do a fine job of speaking with a Scottish accent in Rob Roy. His usual County Antrim accent isn't to be heard. Rob Roy wasn't the first movie based on folkore in which Liam Neeson had starred. One of his earliest roles was Sir Gawain in Excalibur (1981).

Rob Roy (1995) may have been unfaithful to Sir Walter Scott's work. It may have departed from history a good deal. Its leading man wasn't even Scottish. That having been said, it did receive largely positive reviews upon its release on April 7 1995. Roger Ebert described it as "...a splendid, rousing historical adventure..." The critic at Entertainment Weekly gave it a B+. What is more, Rob Roy has its fans to this day. Some of us even consider far superior to another 1995 Scottish film that just happened to win the Oscar for Best Picture.

While Roy Roy does depart from history, it features some great performances by Liam Neeson, Sir John Hurt, and Tim Roth. What is more, the script goes far more in depth on the characters than many historical adventure movies have before it. The sword fight at the climax ranks among the best ever made, easily matching those in Scaramouche (1952) and Ladyhawke (1985). Rob Roy isn't particularly well remembered today, but it really should be.