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Corsair (1931)

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A stock market broker plans to liven up his boring life by taking up piracy on the high seas.



(novel), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Title: Corsair (1931)

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Cast overview:
John Hawks
Alison Corning (as Alison Loyd)
Fred Kohler ...
Big John
Ned Sparks ...
Emmett Corrigan ...
Stephen Corning
William Austin ...
Richard Bentinck
Frank McHugh ...
'Chub' Hopping
Frank Rice ...
Fish Face
Gay Seabrook ...
Susie Grenoble
Addie McPhail ...
Jean Phillips
Al Hill ...
First Mate of the Corsair
Pat Hartigan ...
(as Patrick Hartigan)
Sidney D'Albrook


A stock market broker plans to liven up his boring life by taking up piracy on the high seas.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis







Release Date:

28 November 1931 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

O Corsário  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Roland West's last film. He took a few years off from the industry and planned to return in the late 1930s, but in 1935 his girlfriend, actress Thelma Todd, was murdered in a restaurant that she and West ran in Santa Monica. He vowed never to return to Hollywood and for the remainder of his life (he died in 1952), he never did. See more »


Referenced in Agatha Christie: Poirot: The King of Clubs (1989) See more »

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User Reviews

Much better and smarter than its reputation
24 February 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I wasn't expecting much from this film. I watched it mainly because it stars two favorites of mine - Chester Morris and Thelma Todd. I was very pleasantly surprised. The film opens with John Hawks (Chester Morris), a collegiate football star, winning the big game. Later that night, at a society party, he meets Alison Corning (Thelma Todd) who personifies every argument in favor of the inheritance tax you've ever heard with the saying "spare the rod spoil the child" thrown in for good measure. She's beautiful, spoiled, used to getting whatever and whoever she wishes, and will do anything for a thrill. John's bad luck is that she wants him from first sight. She convinces her big Wall Street financier dad, "Steve" as she calls him, to give John a job at his firm. John is hardly enamored by Alison. He can see right through her, and on the surface that's got to be a pleasant experience for any guy, but then you get to the not-so-gooey middle. This is what repels him.

So John takes the job, not really knowing what to do after college anyways, but soon he sees that Alison is the apple that has not fallen far from the tree. Dad is all about making money and he doesn't care if he has to scam orphans and widows to do it. When John refuses to hard sell some worthless stock to an old lady in exchange for her solidly performing bonds he's tossed out without a second glance by dear old Steve.

John then decides to take to piracy on the high seas - after all it's not too different from what Alison's dad is doing - except he will steal from crooks not orphans and widows. John sets his sights on one bootlegger in particular, and with the help of a wealthy friend who backs him financially by helping him buy a boat (Frank McHugh as Chub), he starts to regularly hijack gangster "Big John's" haul of bootleg liquor and sell it to Steve, his old employer, who is into bootlegging himself as a sideline.

Now the problem here is that John doesn't spread the pain around to various bootleggers - he picks strictly on Big John's boats. He should realize that Big John did not get where he got by dropping out of Sunday school and sooner or later he is going to retaliate. I'll let you watch and see how this all shakes out.

I just thought it was very clever and timely for a filmmaker to equate the robber barons of Wall Street with piracy on the high seas. In fact, it makes pirates look noble compared to the Wall Street banksters. There's also some gritty reality thrown in via Mayo Methot's Sophie, the typist for Big John who's beautiful but beaten down by life in the Depression and the constant companionship of ruffians just trying to make a living. Her relationship with Ned Sparks' "Slim" is touching. Slim is one of Big John's men, and the couple is helping out John Hawks in his acts of piracy against Big John in return for a percentage, hoping to get out of "the life" once and for all. The ever present danger of getting caught - if they are lucky, by the law, if not so lucky, by Big John, makes them underplay their emotions for one another and their emotional caution turns out to be quite touching.

If you like Chester Morris or Thelma Todd, if you want to see a different kind of gangster film, if you think that many of the people running Goldman Sachs and AIG deserve to be cell mates with Bernie Madoff but will probably never learn their lesson from anybody or anything in this life, give this almost forgotten little film a chance.

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