Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Black Pirate (1926)

Director: Albert Parker

Starring: Douglas Fairbanks, Billie Dove, Anders Randolf, Donald Crisp, Tempe Pigott, Sam De Grasse

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The Love Story of a Bold Buccaneer

Plot: Exhibiting his trademark bravado and finesse, Douglas Fairbanks Sr. portrays the titular buccaneer, the lone survivor of a pirate attack that killed his father. Naturally, the valorous swashbuckler vows vengeance. Sword in hand, he infiltrates the lair of the villainous high-seas marauders, single-handedly captures one of their merchant vessels and scores the hat trick with the requisite rescue of a damsel in distress (Billie Dove).

My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again? Uh, YEAH!

THE BLACK PIRATE is one of the oldest and one of the best pirate movies EVER! Please read the previous sentence two more times. This is an excellent introduction to silent films for anyone who has never seen one. It's an hour and a half that just whizzes by just as pretty as you please. It's loaded with action, gorgeous to look at (ESPECIALLY with the early two strip technicolor process) and the orchestral score by Mortimer Wilson is a rousing hoot!

Douglas Fairbanks is absolutely amazing. This isn't the first time I've seen this movie or of his films. He's very charismatic and acrobatic. He does all of his own stunts and, even though there may be some trick photography (reversing of shots - but you don't realize it), he's obviously very athletic and graceful. It's all too easy to see how he was one of the biggest box office draws of his time. He's a breath of fresh air in every scene.

This also has one of the most gruesome scenes I've ever seen in a pirate movie. At the start of the picture the pirates raid another ship. We're told that once they've overcome another ship, they take what they want, the survivors are bound and the ship sunk. Nice. I can dig it. On this raid, one of the bound survivors is spotted taking a ring from his finger and swallowing it so as to keep the pirates from having it. The pirate captain calls one of his men over and tells him of the foolish deed and motions him to retrieve the ring. The pirate pulls out a knife, goes offscreen to the victim and returns with a very bloodied knife and right hand, and he presents the ring in his left hand to the captain! BAD...ASS!!! That's pretty ballsy for a picture from the 20s. You wouldn't see that kind of shit in a PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN movie, now would you? Hell, I just upped it to YouTube. See for yourself...

THE BLACK PIRATE is a MUST SEE for anyone who is a fan of the genre. It really is the grandaddy of pirate movies and it's a testament to this picture that this silent film has rarely been bested in the past 85 years. There's a's THAT good. Now go watch it. Netflix has it on instant viewing.

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