The Highwayman is based on the famous narrative poem by Alfred Noyes. The title character, played by Philip Friend, is a bold masked bandit of 18th-century England, who robs from the rich and gives (a little) to the poor. He is loved by Bess (Wanda Hendrix), the lovely daughter of an innkeeper. The film doesn't pick up the plotline of the Noyes poem until some ten minutes before the end. Everyone who read The Highwayman in high school will recall that King George's men camp themselves in the inn awaiting the Highwayman's appearance--and so that Bess won't tip off her lover, they tie her up with a musket aimed at her heart. Bess courageously manages to fire the musket just as the Highwayman approaches, saving his life at the cost of her own. Upon the subsequent death of the Highwayman, he and Bess are reunited in the Hereafter. Fairly pedestrian for the most part, The Highwayman comes to a poignant climax, but it still pales beside the Alfred Noyes original.
by Hal Erickson synopsis