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>
The double-thick Technicolor prints (two strips of dyed film, cemented together) presented numerous screening problems for untrained projectionists. If screened improperly, they would warp, scratch, etc. and due to the expense of printing in Technicolor at this time (since there were no optical printers, or any easier way of printing such technology in those days) forced the Fairbanks studio to issue a black-and-white version as well. See more »
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 »
It would be hard to find a role more suitable for Douglas Fairbanks than "The Black Pirate", and when you add the lavish sets and costumes, plus an early form of color photography, it makes for an enjoyable and entertaining spectacle. The story has plenty of action and excitement, but it also includes some good character development that adds to the interest of the story itself.
The story follows Fairbanks's character through a series of events that give him a good variety of material and scenery to work with. From the opening shipwreck scene, to his meeting with the pirates, to the tense series of confrontations that follow, his scenes range from heroic to sympathetic, from impressing the crew to facing desperate predicaments, and much in between. While there are the occasional nods to stock cinema conventions, in general it is a satisfying story. Although the Black Pirate is the center of attention, the supporting cast members also all do a good job when they get the chance.
It is also quite interesting to see one of the earliest attempts to film a feature-length picture in color. It's hard to tell how good it might have looked in its original form, since in some stretches the color is now noticeably drab - but at other times the color is surprisingly good-looking. The color provides just one more reason that this is one of the more popular movies of the silent era.
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