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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>
about as good a pirate movie as you can make without sound
This was an excellent pirate movie and was better than many sound pirate films. However, it's really hard to rate the movie---compared to other silent pirate films, it might just be the best. But, compared to THE SEA HAWK, CAPTAIN BLOOD or THE BLACK SWAN (all wonderful sound pirate films from the 30s and 40s), it isn't as good a film.
So what does the movie do that worked so well for me? First, being a Douglas Fairbanks film, it had wonderful stunts and impeccable production values--something he was known for in his silent films. Second, this film had excellent sets and was the best film money could buy in its day. In fact, it was such a lavish production that it was supposedly the first full-length film made in 2-color Technicolor--an early and somewhat crude way of producing a color movie. Because the film was dyed with green-blue and orange-red dyes, the film mostly looks reddish-green--definitely NOT true color. But, it doesn't look that bad--certainly much better than the horrid colorized films destroyed in the 1980s. Plus, if it hadn't been for films like this, the infinitely better 3-color system might never have been developed by Technicolor. And, finally, the plot is pretty good for a silent film--not the most complex when compared to later films, it's not nearly as simplistic as most other silents.
This video was produced by KINO FILMS. Some of their silent films in the past were less than wonderful (especially some of their Buster Keaton videotapes), but this videotape is top quality and has nice extras at the end of the tape. Some cheaper prints apparently are only black and white, not color. Nice job for the restoration, KINO! However, despite what the video box said, it was apparently NOT the first full-length two-color Technicolor film. I recently saw a restored print from TOLL OF THE SEA (1922) and it was in fact made using this process four years earlier than THE BLACK PIRATE.
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