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The Pirate (1948)

Approved | | Adventure, Comedy, Musical | 11 June 1948 (USA)
A girl is engaged to the local richman, but meanwhile she has dreams about the legendary pirate Macoco. A traveling singer falls in love with her and to impress her he poses as the pirate.



(screenplay), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Don Pedro Vargas
Aunt Inez
The Advocate
The Viceroy
The Nicholas Brothers ...
Specialty Dance
Uncle Capucho
Lola Deem ...
Mary Jo Ellis ...
Jean Dean ...
Marion Murray ...
Jerry Bergen ...


A girl is engaged to the local richman, but meanwhile she has dreams about the legendary pirate Macoco. A traveling singer falls in love with her and to impress her he poses as the pirate. Written by R. Kessen <rhkessen@cs.vu.nl>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Treasure Chest Of Magic See more »


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

11 June 1948 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El pirata  »

Box Office


$3,700,000 (estimated)


$2,956,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In the MGM 1952 musical Singin' in the Rain (1952), the song "Make 'Em Laugh" was plagiarized (by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed) from "Be a Clown" although Cole Porter did not make a complaint. Both films were MGM productions and starred Gene Kelly, who appeared in the "Make "Em Laugh" segment (but did not sing) while the song was sung and performed by Donald O'Connor. See more »


When Manuela's hat is blown off by ocean breeze, wire pulling it are clearly seen. See more »


Serafin: [after Manuela smashes a painting over his head] You're overdoing this! You're being vindictive!
See more »


Written by Cole Porter
Performed by Gene Kelly
See more »

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User Reviews

"Ladies go to pieces over pieces of eight"
23 April 2009 | by (Ruritania) – See all my reviews

In its classic era Hollywood was not a place where artistes could conceive and execute projects exactly to plan. Often a production would change hands, get scrapped, revived, or overhauled completely into a new genre according to changing needs and resources. That's not an admonition - it's simply the way they created quality entertainment. The Pirate was not the first straight-ahead comedy drama to receive a musical makeover halfway through production.

MGM, in the middle of what would one day be known as its golden age of musicals, probably thought they were onto an easy winner because they had all the finest musical talent of the day at their disposal. They brought in Arthur Freed to produce, Vincente Minnelli to direct, with Judy Garland and Gene Kelly as stars. They even managed to coax Cole Porter into writing the score. It couldn't fail... could it? The trouble is, such hasty talent stuffing sometimes backfires. Let's begin with the two leads. Garland, had worked continuously since childhood and was by now only being kept going with the amphetamines she would eventually become hooked on. She was running out of steam and it shows in her rather uneven performance, veering from theatrical exaggeration to bizarre, doped-up eroticism. Kelly by contrast was at the top of his game, but he looks daft in that moustache, and his performance relies more on his second-rate acrobats than his first-rate dancing. Garland and Kelly are however fantastic in the comical ornament-smashing scene. This is easily the best moment in the picture, which just goes to show how underused their musical abilities are.

Vincente Minnelli was by now established as a unique and highly effective director of musicals. He had a method of giving character and dynamics to every number, making the camera and the colours part of the choreography. A great example is the song Nina, which is shot entirely in two or three continuous takes. Minnelli leads us into the song tracking over to the "Nina" in the boldest colours, then alights on one "Nina" after another, delicately framing each in a painterly composition. He holds our interest throughout this long routine, with the camera in close to establish the premise of the number then moving out to show off Kelly's athletics, moving in again for the cigarette-kiss trick, before moving out again for the final group dance. It's just a shame that The Pirate has too few songs, and not nearly enough dance.

Minnelli was also a competent director of non-musical action, particularly crowd scenes. His expert use of camera movement provides Kelly with a fantastic entrance. We dolly back through the crowds, focus on a crate with the acting company's details on it, then pull back and up to reveal Kelly being hoisted aloft. Shortly after this comes a bit of a misfire though. Minnelli, for very good reasons, often liked to keep actors in mid-shot rather than closeup, drawing attention to them through use of framing and movement. As Kelly strolls through the crowd advertising his company, we are focused on him because he is very animated while his audience are unnaturally still. It gives what should be a lively moment a sense of emptiness, and I can't help thinking of the real world audience getting bored wondering when the first musical number will strike up.

As for Cole Porter's music, it's far from his best. The plot is, as Kelly later pointed out, a huge inside joke that it took audiences twenty years to get, although if it was at the expense of Douglas Fairbanks, wasn't it also being made twenty years too late? The MGM studio-bound look is particularly stifling for such an exotic, adventuresome setting. All in all, The Pirate has plenty of colouring, but not enough flavour, and is one of the most disappointing of MGM musicals.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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