An American fighting ship battles Barbary pirates in the Mediterranean in the 18th century.



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Cast overview:
Commodore Preble
Lt. Stephen Decatur
Eddie Fetherston ...
Lt. Richard Somers
First Mate
George Godfrey ...
The Cook
William Conklin ...
Esther's Father
Effie Ellsler ...
Esther's Mother
Arthur Ludwig ...
Second Mate


Early in the 19th century, the USS Constitution is launched as part of an effort to stop piracy in the Mediterranean. Meanwhile, a young man determined to go to sea is befriended by the bos'n of the merchant ship Esther, and he joins her crew. When the Esther reaches the Mediterranean, she too, along with the Constitution, becomes involved in the battle against the pirates. Written by Snow Leopard

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

sea | epic | See All (2) »


PRISONERS---held for ransom!---lovers at the mercy of Barbary pirates! Captives on an American vessel, with the frowning guns of Tripoli threatening the outlet to the sea and freedom! Then came ---- "OLD IRONSIDES" See more »


Drama | History




Release Date:

6 December 1926 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Fragata Invicta  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


A real ship (the S. N. Castle, built in 1886) was burned and sunk for the movie. See more »


Referenced in Jazz: Swing: Pure Pleasure - 1935-1937 (2001) See more »

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User Reviews

The Young Constitution
5 May 2013 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

Like Orson Welles with Citizen Kane, James Cruze spent the rest of his directorial career trying to top the success of the epic western The Covered Wagon. The sea serves as the prairie landscape for this film, Old Ironsides the story of the first days of that valiant ship of the line in our new US Navy for Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes penned his immortal poem.

In this film the Constitution is a new ship and it's off to fight in the war against the Barbary pirates of Tripoli. In what I think is a rather unnecessary prologue we're shown scenes of the debates in the 5th Congress as to whether we should have a navy at all.

When the meat of the story gets served it's a slice of action and romance. Young Charles Farrell goes off to sea in search of adventure and gets recruited in a grog shop by boatswain Wallace Beery. Also recruited that way is George Bancroft who is a gunner on the new Constitution. Bancroft ain't happy on the way he was drafted and he and Beery have a running feud going.

As for Farrell, he's got eyes for passenger Esther Ralston, but she's out of his league. But they all get into the same fix when the Barbary pirates capture them and the ship. After that it's the US Navy and the as yet to be named Old Ironsides to the rescue. Most important for Ralston as the pirates have a choice place in the sultan's harem for her.

The Constitution was as yet to be named Old Ironsides. That would occur later on in the era before the War of 1812 when she battled the British ship of the line Guerriere. The battle scenes are well staged, the recently departed from Paramount Cecil B. DeMille couldn't have done better than Cruze.

The film holds up very well and if it isn't history it's good entertainment.

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