This film is held by the BFI (ID: 33327).


ROMANCE. Donald, the Colonel's son, appears cowardly as the result of torture in Africa. He woos and weds the gipsy Rilka. His gipsy rival persuades her to leave but Donald recovers his nerve and regains Rilka.

R.1. Title and credits. "...the Lowlands of Scotland" (8). A (real?) gipsy camp with caravans, children, horses, dogs, cooking, goats. Rilka "the hereditary ruler" (118). Colonel Andy Maclean greets the doctor and the minister outside his house (170). At the camp, Wolf, Rilka's jealous and treacherous suitor, fights and half strangles another gipsy. This is observed by the Colonel's party who reprimand Rilka (420). "At the Dune Golf Club", Jock Mackay, a troublemaker, accuses Donald Maclean (kilted throughout) of cowardice. The doctor explains the reason for Donald's timidity (675): in the East African forest British troops in pith helmets fight Africans in feathers and leopard skins. Donald tries to save the doctor, but both are captured and Donald is tortured for hours by having a club waved round his head. He never flinches. In the nick ot time the troops rescue them but Donald suffers a "brain-snap" (900). Doctor talks to Colonel and Mrs Maclean (1008). [From another film: several verses and choruses of "Mother Mine" with the letters NEC in the frame] (1265). The colonel is ashamed of Donald's cowardice (1340). The camp: Wolf beats a child. Donald, passing by, remonstrates but is struck to the ground. Rilka intervenes, beats Wolf, bathes and bandages Donald's head. He gives her a brooch in thanks (1650). Wolf and Rilka row over the brooch (1848). After shopping in the (very English) village, Rilka meets Donald in a lane, observed by Hannah, the village gossip (1945).

R.2. Wolf jealously spies on the couple and attacks Donald. Rilka thinks Donald a coward (173). Donald returns to his family and faints (270). The Colonel orders the gipsies to leave. Rilka dissuades him, while Wolf steals the brooch, throws it away and foments trouble (530). Donald recovers in bed (650). The caravans move off. Rilka grieves but follows (780). [Gap: see 2nd viewing copy] "...the arrest of Wolf..." (793). The village women gossip but the minister reproaches them and talks to Rilka on the `AULD BRIG'. [Gap: Donald woos and weds Rilka]. Inside a cottage, a maid watches Rilka weep, remove her wedding ring, seal it in an envelope and leave. Wolf arrives and knocks the unresisting Donald down. Rilka, "convinced she is unwanted", leaves with Wolf (1085). The gipsies strike camp again. The Colonel, horrifed that Donald allowed his wife to be taken, waves a club at Donald. "Brain-snap!" Donald attacks his father until the household separates them. Donald runs off to the camp where he fights Wolf, without and with knives, and knocks him out. Donald and Rilka embrace, wave farewell to the departing gipsies and rejoin the Colonel (1626ft). (Total length 3571ft out of an original 6738ft).

2nd viewing copy: "In a new camp some miles away" Rilka mopes while Donald in the woods does the same. Both remember their encounter. Donald finds the brooch. Wolf rows with Rilka, draws his knife and, with two mates, rides off bareback. Rilka pursues them. All dismount. Wolf approaches Donald's home. Donald talks to his parents while Rilka climbs in to warn him, finds the brooch, and encounters Donald. In the garden, servants attack Wolf and beat him to the ground. Rilka flees (653ft). [Earlier scene, repeated in the longer viewing copy:] Donald, bound to a stake, is tormented by natives waving a club round his head while the tied-up, horrified doctor watches (711ft).

Reissued in 1927 as RILKA; OR, THE GIPSY QUEEN. The 711ft viewing copy comes from this.



  • RILKA; OR, THE GYPSY QUEEN (Alternative)

Technical Data

Film Gauge (Format):
35mm Film
6738 ft

Production Credits

Production Countries:
Great Britain
cast member
COFFIN, Adeline Hayden
cast member
CULLIN, Arthur
cast member
DUDLEY, Bernard
cast member
cast member
cast member
ROCK, Charles
cast member
cast member
VILLIS, Marjorie
cast member
WILLS, Nance
Production Company
Harma and Company