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This was the last film that Cecil B. DeMille had anything to do with.
He originally planned to direct this remake of his 1938 film The
Buccaneer, but ill health prevented him from doing so. So apart from a
brief prologue and a production credit saying the film was presented by
him, DeMille left the producing to good friend Henry Wilcoxon and the
directing to his son-in-law Anthony Quinn.
This version has the added attractions of great technicolor photography and Paramount's new wide screen Vistavision process. I saw in the theater when I was 11 years old and it is quite an eyeful.
Yul Brynner makes as dashing a Jean Lafitte as Fredric March did in the 1938 film. Charlton Heston repeats his Andrew Jackson role from The President's Lady which he made earlier in the Fifties. Heston though was not satisfied because he realized that he was made up to look like the Andrew Jackson we know from the double sawbuck when he was in the White House. At New Orleans he was a bit younger. But like Moses and the circus boss from The Greatest Show on Earth, you follow him to Hades and back.
The best role in the film for me though was Charles Boyer as Dominic You, Lafitte's cynical second in command. A former artillery officer in Napoleon's army, he left there and took up piracy out of disillusionment with how the French Revolution turned out. Boyer has some good and wise lines in his counsel to Lafitte even if he's drunk while delivering some of them.
After The Ten Commandments, DeMille had plans to make a film about Sir Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Boy Scouts and was in negotiations with David Niven to play Baden-Powell. He got sidetracked with this film and then he died in early 1959. Of course the Boy Scout film never did get made by anyone.
Although DeMille eliminated one element of the plot from 1938 the traitorous Senator played by Ian Keith the rest of the film is pretty much the same. This is hardly the real story of Jean Lafitte. When not on the action, the film does drag in spots. Maybe that's why Anthony Quinn never directed another film.
This version of The Buccaneer had one additional thing going for it. Country singer Johnny Horton had a mega hit record of The Battle of New Orleans at the same time the film came out. Both must have fed off each other in profit making. I well remember you couldn't go a day without hearing The Battle of New Orleans playing some time on the radio.
It's not history, it's DeMille at his gaudiest.
This interesting feature has a very fine story-line, rather colorful characters and a very steady pace. it also incorporates a plot device from "Reap the Wild Wind", and since Cecil B. Deille directed that and his son-in-law Anbthony Quinn directed this film from his preparations, that can hardly be a coincidence. it works in both cases, I must report. The unusual set-up tells the viewer that Barataria, an island ruled by Jean Lafitte is built upon piracy, but during the war of 1812, and before, he has always refrained from bothering United States' vessels. Now General Andrew Jackson has been charged with defending nearby New Orleans with only 12,000 men against 60,000 British Imperial redcoats and 60 ships. Lafitte's men want him to side with the stronger force; he wants freedom and pardons for his men before ceding such a strategic landing spot to the U.S. forces. There are other factors at work in the story-line; pirate Bonnie Brown and her father want to attack U.S. ships and do so in defiance of Lafitte's orders, leaving a boy alive without knowing they have missed an eyewitness. When his testimony finally comes out, Jackson cannot grant what Lafitte asks; but Lafitte supports him anyway and in the fog, the pirates and Jackson rout the British and he sails away to whatever destiny awaits a man who had genius and statesmanship but not fortune. The cast of this colorful and physically-lovely film are skilled indeed. Yul Brynner has one of his best roles as the pirate king, Inger Stevens is beautiful; as the girl he loves, Charles Boyer has many good lines as his adviser, powerful Lorne Greene is a rival, E.G. Marshall the Governor, and Claire Bloom is charismatic as Bonnie Brown. Others in the cast include Ted de Corsia, Douglass Dumbrille, George Mathews, Henry Hull as Jackson's adviser, Bruce Gordon, Onslow Stevens, Robert F. Simon, Henry Brandon, Fran Jeffries, and Leslie Bradley, among others. The music by Elmer Bernstein is very memorable, and the 1938 script remade here had only to be freshened a bit. The shiny cinematography was the work of veteran Loyal Griggs, the set decoration was supplied by Albert Nozaki, Hal Pereira and Walter Tyler, with set decoration by Sam Comer and Roy Moyer and costumes by Edith Head, John Jensen and Ralph Jester. Nellie Manley did the elaborate hairstyles and Wally Westmore the difficult makeup. The film contains quite a bit of good adventure-level dialogue and a very strong climactic battle scene. Charlton Heston, as as Andrew Jackson, prepared to play the part of an elder general and then discovered the man was young at the time of the battle; but he is often effective, grey-haired or not, especially in his exchanges with Henry Hull as Mr. Peavey. This is an exciting and well-mounted entertainment, which looks exactly as if C.B. DeMille had completed his production; it is a beautiful and nearly a very-fine motion picture.
I always enjoyed watching this when it came on television during prime-time every year in the 60's. It's a typical Hollywood history epic, dramatized, stylized and full of inaccuracies but so what, it's an entertaining movie and a good looking film. Cecil B. DeMille at the end of his life is the executive producer of this remake of his 1938 film. His son-in-law actor Anthony Quinn who had the supporting role of Beluche in the '38 film is the director in his directorial debut and swan song as he had never directed a film before and never would again. DeMille assembled a crew who had recently worked on his 10 Commandments to help Quinn pull it off including longtime DeMille associate producer/actor Henry Wilcoxon overseeing the project. Also from the 10 Commandments are screenwriter Jesse Lasky, cinematographer Loyalk Griggs, assistant director Francisco Day, 2nd unit director Arthur Rosson, art directors Walter Tyler and Hal Pereira, set directors Sam Comer and Ray Moyer, costume designers Edith Head, John Jensen and Ralph Lester who as a costume design team received The Buccaneer's only Oscar nomination. A great cast here from team DeMille headed up by Yul Brynner as pirate Jean Lafitte and Charleton Heston as future President General Andrew Jackson. Also in the cast are Charles Boyer, E.G. Marshall, Lorne Greene, Claire Bloom and Inger Stevens. At just over two hours it drags in some spots but makes up for it with some excellent battle scenes. I would give it a 7.5 out of 10.
During the whole Pirates of The Caribbean Trilogy Craze Paramount Pictures really dropped the ball in restoring this Anthony Quinn directed Cecil B. DeMille supervised movie and getting it on DVD and Blu Ray with all the extras included. It is obvious to me that Paramount Pictures Execs are blind as bats and ignorant of the fact that they have a really good pirate movie in their vault about a real pirate who actually lived in New Orleans, Louisiana which would have helped make The Crescent City once again famous for it's Pirate Connections. When the Execs at Paramount finally get with the program and release this movie in digital format then I will be a happy camper. Paramount Pictures it is up to you to get off your duff and get this film restored now !
If you're at all interested in pirates, pirate movies, New Orleans/early 19th century American history, or Yul Brynner, see this film for yourself and make up your own mind about it. Don't be put off by various lacklustre reviews. My reaction to it was that it is entertaining, well acted (for the most part), has some very witty dialogue, and that it does an excellent job of portraying the charm, appeal and legendary fascination of the privateer Jean Lafitte. While not all the events in the film are historically accurate (can you show me any historical film that succeeds in this?), I feel the film is accurate in its treatment of the role Lafitte played in New Orleans' history, and the love-hate relationship between the "respectable" citizens of New Orleans and this outlaw who was one of the city's favorite sons. Don't worry about what the film doesn't do, but watch it for what it does do, i.e., for its study of one of New Orleans', and America's, most intriguing historical figures.
Sure, the history in this movie was "Hollywoodized"--but it's far from being the only bit of history rewritten for the masses. Lafitte sided with the Americans because he considered himself a Frenchman and therefore hated the British, not because of any sense of patriotism for a nation that had taken over New Orleans only a short time ago; he broke his agreement and returned to smuggling, which caused his sailing to Galveston; he was more of a petty criminal and scoundrel than a hero *or* a swashbuckler. But who cares? This is one movie that's sheer entertainment--and face it, we all wanted Jean to go for the feisty wench rather than the prudish daughter of the governor. Brynner once again rises over mediocre writing to give a fascinating performance.
Semi-fictional account of pirate Jean Lafitte's involvement in the War
of 1812 with some of the most thrilling war scenes ever filmed . This
remake of Cecil B DeMille's 1938 production starts with a prologue :
Jean Lafitte , last of Buccaneers , lives on in Lord Byron's immortal
words : ¨He left a Corsair's name to other times , linked with one
virtue and a thousand crimes¨. These American Presidents condemned ,
pardoned and again condemned this pirate . But Fate placed into the
hands of this man without-a-country the destiny of a country - the
United States - fighting for its very existence in the war of 1812 .
Defeat has followed defeat . Now , only one man stood guard to ward off
the final death blow , a backwoods General called Andrew Jackson with a
handful of squirrel hunters and raw recruits . However , this prologue
fails to mention the great irony of the Battle of New Orleans: by the
time it was fought, a treaty to end the War of 1812 had already been
signed in London , but word of the signing did not reach New Orleans
until weeks later. The British have sacked Washington and hope to
capture New Orleans, where pirate Jean Lafitte (Yul Brynner) romances
blueblooded Annette (Inger Stevens) and openly sells his loot in a
pirates' market. But he never attacks American ships . General Andrew
Jackson (Charlton Heston previously played this role in The President's
Lady) has only 1,200 men left to defend New Orleans when he learns that
a British fleet will arrive with 60 ships and 16,000 men to take the
city. In this situation an island near the city becomes strategically
important to both parties, but it's inhabited by the last big
buccaneer: Jean Lafitte , Lord of Barataria, Louisiana. When the battle
gets nearer, Lafitte is drawn between both sides . His heart belongs to
the United States , but his people urge him to unite the party that's
more likely to vanquish .
Lavish film , 2 million dollars swashbuckling epic , magnificent adventure yarn , being spectacular and marvelously set in the War of 1812 against Britain . Cecil B DeMille 's last picture , he was seriously ailing and died while it was being made and completed by his son-in-law , Anthony Quinn. Anthony played the role of Beluche in the first version (1938) starred by Fredric March , Walter Brennan , Ian Keith , Akim Tamiroff , also directed by Cecil , for this one, Quinn is the director ; in fact, it is the only instance in his film career of taking on that job. The long-time associated Henry Wilcoxon , who starred ¨DeMille's The Crusades¨, took over as producer and the filmmaking went to actor Anthony Quinn who realized such a nice work that one wonders why it was the only one he made . The picture is based on historical deeds , though there is no historical evidence to prove that Lafitte actually was present during the battle. Facts were changed to protect 1950s sensitivities. Lafitte did have an affair with a Claybourne lady, but it was the Governor's wife, not his daughter. Interesting screenplay by Jesse L Lasky Jr , Cecil B. DeMille's usual screenwriter , but original script developed the story as a musical, then Cecil changed his mind when Yul Brynner, dissatisfied with the treatment of the material, threatened to back out of the film. A lot of exciting items cropped out for this high budgeted epic such as colorful cinematography by Loyal Griggs , rousing musical score by Elmer Bernstein , breathtaking production design by Albert Nozaki, Walter Tyler and Hal Pereira . It is adorned by the most notorious bald in the world , the great Yul Brynner , stands out Charlton Heston playing one of his ordinary historic characters , Claire Bloom as a tough pirate girl , an attractive Inger Stevens as Governor's daughter , Edgar G Marshall as Governor , a brilliant Charles Boyer as Dominique You , Henry Hull who wields a spirited rifle and many others ; including brief performances from a numerous support cast such as Lorne Greene as Mercier , Ted de Corsia as Capt. Rumbo , Douglass Dumbrille as Collector of the Port and who in the first adaptation acted as Governor , Robert F. Simon as Capt. Brown , Woody Strode , John Dierkes , Henry Brandon , Kathleen Freeman , among others . The motion picture was well directed by Anthony Quinn and Cecil B DeMille . DeMille oversaw production of the film, and appears in the prologue, but was unsatisfied with Quinn's efforts as director, as well as the work of old friend Henry Wilcoxen as producer, and tried to change and improve the film during and after production. DeMille died in January, 1959, only a month after the film's release.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A very catchy real character, great dialogue, strong sensitive music,
nice art direction, and a good respectable cast. So what's the problem
with that movie from the good old Hollywood and from the mighty
(Anthony Quinn) as a director for the first and last time in his life ?
Is it the script, or the editing ? I'll tell you..
I see that the main character is a drama's treasure, a type of hero which movies long for, so maybe (Quinn) found himself in love (or found himself !) with that wild-hearted free-spirit pirate, famous intense personality, and that exceptional lover. But the studio wanted other things !
The strict (Cecil B. DeMille), (Quinn)'s father-in-law at the time, was the head of the production. Although he was only the uncredited executive producer but for instance you still can read his name on the top of the authentic poster as (Cecil B. DeMille Presents). He saw a good pirate adventure in that story to make an assured commercial movie, consequently by controlling the editing the taste had been changed and the final result was that confused movie !
Sometimes you find yourself into it as another buccaneer's adventure with all the fights and the hot ironic dialogue. Then you find yourself into that drama of (Jean Lafitte) and the historical role he played during the war of 1812 !! There wasn't quite a harmony between the 2 overlapping movies, so the ultimate feeling was close to perturbation as it's a cup of coffee with some soda in it !
So perhaps the accused is that script which annoyed the big bosses at Hollywood and overstepped their desired requirements to discuss the man's life and choices plus the details of the war, or it's the anxiety of a producer (who happened to be here Mr. DeMille himself) over a movie that must be much simpler and more commercial, so actually it's nothing but the eternal clash between the artist and the producer! But (The Buccaneer) is still fun to watch even if all the battles were inside the studio, and the make-up of (Charlton Heston) seemed horrible !, or even if some of the story lines looked overlooked !
I loved the movie's smart selection for that unique character, its dramatic hesitation between 2 worlds (the aristocratic society and the freedom of the oceans), and how his love of the freedom conquered as he found himself with the wild gypsy girl eventually.
Also, the very enjoyable dialogue; in fact there is a list of 7 persons wrote the script so I don't know who I'll give the credit of writing clever lines like : (you know everything about being a classy woman but you don't know anything about being a woman !), (if my hair knew my plans then I'll shave it !), (enjoy the silence before it ends), (I don't need a world but you), and the cleverest of them all when the girl told (Lafitte) the man she adores and the killer of her father as well (I can't leave you You became part of everything I love or hate).
Over and above the music of (Elmer Bernstein). He is one of the greatest composers whom ever wrote for movies, when he died in 2004 he left a 50 years' legacy of superb working. This time his music was powerfully expressive of (Jean Lafitte)'s main conflict, so the sense of greatness and heartache in him to an imposing extent makes you feel that it's bigger than the movie, or as big as its unfulfilled original ambition.
This movie has great stars in their earlier years: Ingor Stevens never looked prettier; Yul Brynner was a very convincing Jean LaFitte, conflicted about his piracy and desiring to keep neutrality with the United States. Charlton Heston did a pretty good job as Andrew Jackson, but some moments were a bit stilted. It's really a good flick for students to learn that part of our history, AND it shows that all happy endings do NOT include the lovers getting together with each other--sometimes the happier ending is that they sail away and find partners of similar background who will understand them better in the long run. I have viewed it every year at least twice for 16 years now; and though it is not the best movie I've ever seen, I love it every time!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The movie, The Buccaneer, is a movie which might best appeal to older children, 10 - 14 and those who are 40 and up who enjoy adventure type films with pirates and or old style soldiers. It is not quite your typical pirate film. It is a fictional drama about the war of 1812 and the Battle of New Orleans. The most remarkable thing about this film is that Yul Brynner has HAIR in this film. I am sure that he did other films with hair, but this is my first film which I have seen him in with HAIR. I had to keep listening to him to re-verify that it was indeed Yul Brynner. This is a good movie to watch on a lazy afternoon or late at night. Other than the hair, it is an easily forgotten movie. Enjoy it for the fictional historical type drama. Remember it is Hollywood, not the historical society putting the film on.
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