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A nobleman vows to avenge the death of his father at the hands of pirates. To this end he infiltrates the pirate band. Acting in character he is instrumental in the capture of a ship, but things are complicated when he finds that there is a young woman on board whom he wishes to protect from the threat of rape. Written by
David Chappell <David.Chappell@mail.trincoll.edu>
At about 31 minutes into the film, there are several shots of the "Black Pirate" aiming two swivel cannons at the viewer, interspersed with reaction shots of other actors. The first shot shows him in front of a whitish background (eg an overcast sky), the second such shot (a few seconds later) has a pitch black background. All such shots after that have the white background. See more »
In this "page from the history and lives of the most bloodthirsty pirates who ever infested the southern seas," the title cards explain, "it was the custom of these pirates to subdue their prey, loot the ship, bind their captives, and blow them up." That's exactly what happens to seafarer Douglas Fairbanks and his father, as the film begins. But, you don't mess with Doug. Mr. Fairbanks survives the attack, and infiltrates the offending ship (as "The Black Pirate"), vowing revenge, particularly due to the death of his father. Fairbanks also finds romance on ship, with kidnapped princess Billie Dove (as Isobel), whom he saves from gang rape.
Colorful entertainment, from Fairbanks and company. Notable for the early feature-length color photography, by Henry Sharp; and, for Fairbanks' typically robust performance. Mrs. Fairbanks (aka Mary Pickford) stands in for the kissing long shot, near the film's end. Donald Crisp and Sam De Grasse are among the entertaining supporting players. In hindsight, the use of color probably hampered the production somewhat, as it looks more restrictive than other Fairbanks films of the 1920s. Still, it's a classic.
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