Network Distributing released Lorna Doone on DVD in 2014 in Volume 11 of their Ealing Studios Rarities Collection. Usually, this company does excellent transfers but this time the film could have been restored better. Many of the scenes were dark and grainy. It is difficult then to watch a movie without judging it based on its transfer, especially since so many Hollywood films from this same time period have been beautifully restored through Warner Archives.
Nevertheless, Lorna Doone is a fascinating story, a true classic romance, and this particular adaptation - although quaint - captures the excitement of the tale and the period setting ( the English moorlands of the 1600s ) beautifully. John Loder stars as John Ridd, a farmer whose father was murdered by a thieving band of rogues known as the Doones. The law has never been able to capture any of the Doones because they live in their own community in a valley hidden away from other villages. One day, as a young boy, John is rescued by a pretty girl near a waterfall. He never forgets her and years later, when he grows to manhood, he catches sight of her again near that same waterfall. Her name is Lorna Doone and she is the adopted daughter of the king of the thieves, Counsellor Doone.
A love blossoms between the two even though Lorna is aware that she could never leave the Doones, especially to wed one of the Ridds. John sees his only chance of marrying Lorna would be to kidnap her before she is betrothed to another member of the rogues....which he does, sparking an all-out war between the families.
A young Roger Livesey has a supporting role as Tom Faggus, a lovable rascal who has his eyes on John's sister Anne, played by Margaret Lockwood who was making her film debut. Lockwood would play a highwayman herself in one of her most famous films, The Wicked Lady ( 1945 ), which was also set in 17th-century England.
Roy Emerton portrays the evil Carver Doone and also in the cast is George Curzon ( as King James II ), Edward Rigby and Mary Clare.