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Edward Everett Horton
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>
Douglas Fairbanks Swashes His Buckle In Grand Fashion
A nobleman vows vengeance on the cutthroats responsible for his father's death. Becoming THE BLACK PIRATE, he joins their scurvy crew and quickly becomes their leader. But his plans for revenge become more complicated when he meets his first captive - a beautiful Spanish princess.
Roistering, robust & richly detailed, this was one of Douglas Fairbanks' greatest films. With enough excitement to satisfy any lover of adventure, one needs only read the film's prologue to get an idea of its delights: 'A page from the History and Lives of the most Bloodthirsty PIRATES who ever infested THE SOUTHERN SEAS. Being an account of BUCCANEERS & the Spanish MAIN, the Jolly Roger, Golden Galleons, bleached skulls, BURIED TREASURE, the Plank, dirks & cutlasses, SCUTTLED SHIPS, marooning, DESPERATE DEEDS, DESPERATE MEN, and - even on this dark soil - ROMANCE.' Aside from the bleached skulls, everything else is there as promised
Fairbanks is a joy to behold, exulting in his physical prowess, becoming a legend of the screen before the delighted eyes of the viewer. Can any other swashbuckler top the flair or élan of the sequence where Doug captures a merchantman single-handed, climbing up the forecastle & sliding down the slit sails on his dagger, light as any sprite? No one else would have even dared.
As the princess, Billie Dove is beautiful, but has very little to do except look frightened. Donald Crisp, in a change of pace role, is very enjoyable as a gruff one-armed Scots pirate who befriends Fairbanks. Anders Randolf & Sam De Grasse are the black-hearted pirate captain & lieutenant whom Doug must contend with and they are nasty indeed.
A milestone in cinematic history, this was one of the first movies to be filmed entirely in Technicolor. In its restored version, it is very pleasant to the eyes, its antique hues perfectly complementing the richly textured art design, costumes & sets.
For those interested in such things, there are explanations for the various special effects (the underwater attack, for instance), but the reader will need to look elsewhere for them. Sometimes too many facts can spoil the illusion of daydreams so necessary for the enjoyment of silent cinema. Find this fabulous film & dream on.
Too bad about the bleached skulls, though...
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