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In the Irish town of Ballymore in 1815, daredevil rebel Michael Martin robs rich Englishmen along the highway and gives the money to the poor, oppressed Irish peasants. One day, after discovering that his most recent stolen purse is empty, Mike wishes he were as skilled as famed rebel Captain Thunderbolt. Mike visits Brady's tavern, where British High Steward Desmond is collecting his stiff tariff, and when Desmond leaves, Mike impulsively knocks him out and robs him. Mike brings the money to the rebel society meeting, but cautious leader Regis O'Donnell argues that they must return the money and act within the law. Disgusted, Mike starts a fight, but is interrupted when word comes that he has been identified as Desmond's attacker, and must flee to Dublin to avoid arrest. Escaping on foot, Mike is almost caught by the dragoons, but is helped by a fiery traveling parson, who hides him in his wagon. The parson brings Mike to a tavern in Dublin, where he introduces him to the proprietor, Big Tom, as a rebel. The parson watches with delight as Big Tom, a boxer, insults Mike and Mike fights with zeal. Finally, the parson breaks up the fight to reveal his true identity: John Doherty, or Captain Thunderbolt. Doherty so admires Mike's spirit that he invites him to serve as his second-in-command, and an awed Mike is even more pleased when Doherty dresses him in finery and invites him to the casino he runs, under the auspices of his lover, Lady Ann Moore. There, Doherty's headstrong daughter Aga invites Mike to dance, and when his head is turned by the many beautiful women, Aga pretends he has stepped on her foot and mockingly names him "Captain Lightfoot." Meanwhile, Doherty notes with displeasure the arrival of Captain Hood, who announces that rival casino owner Sir George Bracey wants to buy out Doherty. Soon after, the police raid the gambling house, and though Doherty, Ann and Aga race out the back door, Mike stays to fight with a dragoon who mistreats one of the women. In jail, Mike is aghast to discover first that the "ladies" are prostitutes, then that he is being released based on the word of an aristocrat friend of Doherty's, Lord Clonmell. Later Mike learns that his idol is preparing to duel with Bracey, who arranged the raid. At Doherty's, Mike informs Aga that all these incongruities have caused him to want to return to Ballymore, but Aga explains that Doherty's casino makes money off the Englishmen and funnels it to Dublin's poor. Relieved, Mike accompanies Doherty to Bracey's, where men lie in wait to attack them. Doherty kills Bracey but is shot in the arm by Hood. He and Mike escape to rebel Tuer O'Brien's cottage, where a weakened O'Brien orders Mike to run the business for him and keep his whereabouts a secret. Mike returns home and, upon discovering that Hood is courting Aga, forbids her to see him. When she refuses, he spanks her, and later throws Hood off the premises. That night, Hood visits the casino and attempts to provoke Clonmell into a duel. To save the rebellion's highest-born ally, Mike intervenes, challenging Hood to a duel. Later, however, he learns that, because Hood is an officer of the crown, harming him will result in Mike's death. At the pistol duel, Mike casually smokes a cigar, infuriating Hood so much that he misses his mark. When Mike is offered a free shot at Hood, he demurs. He then sees Aga at the duel and, furious that she has been exposed to the potential violence, orders her home. She does not return until nightfall, vexing Mike even more by announcing that she is engaged to a friend. Storming into her bedroom, he demands that she break the engagement, and gathers her into a passionate embrace. Later, Tuer delivers a message from Doherty that he must rest for longer than expected, and when Tuer leaves, Aga follows him to her father's hiding place, not realizing that she is being trailed by Hood. Hours later, Hood arrests Doherty and places him in a Dublin castle. Remembering Doherty's disguise, Mike dresses as a parson and enters the dungeon. Just as he discovers that Doherty has already been rescued by Clonmell, he is captured. Upon hearing that Mike has been taken to Ballymore to stand trial for robbing Desmond, Doherty asks for time to think, but Aga impulsively races to Ballymore. There, she finds the society and, after naming Captain Thunderbolt as her father, convinces the group to storm the castle where Mike is being held. Meanwhile, Mike refuses to reveal Doherty's whereabouts, so Desmond persuades Regis to induce Mike into talking. While Regis orders Mike to be starved until he talks, Doherty arrives in town with several armed rebels, preparing to spring Mike from the prison. That night, before either group can begin their rescue, Regis, who has only been pretending to be in league with Desmond, frees Mike and leads him to a rowboat. As they cross the river, the dragoons attack, and Doherty and his men arrive to return fire. Regis is hit, however, and the boat overturns. Doherty finds the society, who are just about to leave for the castle, and informs them all that Mike and Regis are dead and that he must stay in Dublin, regardless of his health, until he finds someone to take his place. Aga breaks down until she hears a man whistling, and wheels around to discover Mike there. He explains that he and Regis hid under the boat and paddled to safety, and the fact that they have been reported officially dead means that they will be able to carry on Doherty's work in secret. The next day, Mike informs Aga that she must leave with Doherty and Ann because his lifestyle is too dangerous, but Doherty purposefully leaves Aga behind. Aware that he has been tricked, a delighted Mike takes her in his arms.
Lord Mount Charles
Lady Mount Charles
Glenn E. Anderson
W. R. Burnett
W. R. Burnett
Leslie I. Carey
Russell A. Gausman
Joan St. Oegger
The film begins with the following written foreword: "Ireland 1815: This is the story of Mike Martin-better known as in legend as Captain Lightfoot-and of a great hero called Captain Thunderbolt-and the story of Ireland. The Ireland of deep black rivers and red-coated dragoons riding through a land bitter with resistance against foreign rule. The Ireland of secret societies and highwaymen on the Dublin road-the Ireland of dark deeds performed with a light heart-the bad, good old Ireland."
Captain Lightfoot was shot entirely on location in Ireland. According to an August 1954 New York Times article, director Douglas Sirk utilized several locales in Ireland, including Dublin, the village of Clogherhead in County Louth, Beauparc mansion, Slane Castle and Powerscourt mansion. He also built a makeshift studio in the Dublin suburb of Teranure. Studio press materials note that Lord and Lady Mount Charles, who play aristocrats in the film, are the inhabitants of Slane Castle, and add Bective Abbey to the list of shooting locations. An April 1954 Hollywood Reporter news item erroneously lists actor Charles FitzSimons, who plays "Dan Chanley," as an art director. The Hollywood Reporter review mistakenly identifies the film's time period as the 18th century. A June 1954 Hollywood Reporter item adds Lord Langford to the cast and studio press materials add John McNeil to the cast, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed.
Released in United States Spring March 1955
Began shooting June 1954.
Completed shooting August 1954.
Released in United States Spring March 1955