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Pirate movies are few and far between. Its hard to get people to buy off
a script containing ~40 minutes of "Arrrr" and "Aye Matie".
However, Pirates is just a great fun romp through being a nasty, dirty, pirate. This is one of Walter Matthau's best roles. He literally becomes Captain Red. At no moment do you associate this man w/ any of this other roles.
Too many jokes and gags to list, but not a comedy in the traditional sense. It is an adventure first with humor thrown in.
Less of a comedy and more adventure than Yellowbeard. Darker, deeper, better, and less glitzy than Cutthroat Island. All around, a great classic pirate movie and virtually defines the genre.
Watch this movie. Walther Matthaus acting is quite superb. People are
talking about Pirates of the Carribean these days, and Depps
performance, which is also quite funny but it is my opinion that
Matthau personifies that which Depp (tries to) plays in PotC. Matthau
is the perfect old-school pirate drunkard and simply hilarious. As an
extra notable performance is Frog (Cris Campion) playing a french
retard which falls in love with the fair Maria-Dolores. This Polanski
film is a gem. I cant call it the best pirate movie ever made because i
haven't seen them all, but i can tell you that its the best I've seen
yet, and i suspect that it will stay that way. Its just a shame that it
never got the credits that it deserved.
Pirates is one of Roman Polanski's most underrated films along with The
Fearless Vampire Killers and the Tenant. While the latter two films are
masterpieces, Pirates is a very good pirate film that's never received it's
Polanski redefines the pirate film while still paying tribute to the swashbuckling genre. This film is the perfect companion piece to The Fearless Vampire Killers. Walter Matthau gives an excellent performance as the fearless Pirate and the rest of the cast's performances hit all the right notes. Polanski's direction is masterful as always. The photography and musical score are also very good. From a purely technical standpoint this film is excellent. The script is really the only thing that keeps this film from attaining greatness.
MGM who now hold the DVD rights (they now own the rights to the entire Cannon film library) must release this film as soon as possible in it's uncut, 124 minute widescreen glory (I suggest emailing MGM).
Film rating: 9 out of 10.
Roman Polanski's Pirates, starring Walter Matthau as the avaricious
Red, is an absolutely hilarious comedy/adventure. The cast of characters
varied and interesting and the sets appear very authentic. The movie
contains excellent dialogue, good swashbuckling choreography and plenty
physical humour which borders on the bawdy at times. The story is simple
and dynamic and is completely driven by the characters.
I like this movie for its characters. Each one's desires become the focus of fanatical efforts. Throw in some fascinating (though often exaggerated) character quirks, and the cast makes this movie. The rough, oafish Captain Red desires gold. The handsome, quiet Frog desires Dolores. The stiff, foppish Don Alfonso desires power. In the end, who will get what he desires? Most assuredly not EVERYONE.
I only have ONE favorite movie and this is it. I know it is not for everyone (my wife hates it). However, for Matthau fans, or fans of the historical genre, this movie is a fun night out with plenty of laughs. I recommend it strongly.
This enjoyably foolish romp was apparently a flop, and mauled by the
critics. Why? Good question. I speculate three reasons: lack of an
obviously American lead and presence, an opening set-up that pays off
in the long run but doesn't provide a beginning with a bang, and an
anarchic, politically incorrect, almost amoral tone that was not
digestible to Disneyfied mainstream audiences. These, and the length of
the piece, would have been strengths if this had been released as a
children's book, and I further speculate that it would have been well
received in such a format, as a homage to old stories like Treasure
Island. It could then have been adapted into a hit movie (with more
explosions and an ethically impeccable American hero who does get the
girl in the end).
As it is, there is much to admire, delight and entertain, with legitimate criticisms being some of the dodgy casting and (lack of)linguistics (especially as regards the Spanish characters) - Walther Matthau's gloriously over-the-top performance honourably excepted - some lapses of logic in the plot (why doesn't the Frog just swim after the rowboat and bring it back when they get stuck on the chain?), and the fact that it is slightly too long.
Ripe for a sequel, if, like me, you ever wondered what happened to Cap'n Red and his beloved throne, and The Frog and his beloved Dolores.
I have been a near Polanski fan for many years; since seeing Chinatown. But after watching Pirates, my suspicions have been confirmed; Polanski's talents did not wane with his exile from the U.S. Basically what I'm trying to say here is Polanski's talent for genre redefinition is alive and well in this wonderfully comedic look at the action-adventure film. Not only this, but he also manages to re-evaluate and comment on the action hero as well as the genre as a whole. It is puzzling, as in most Polanski films, to ask yourself are the main characters heroes, and if so what kind? and if they are heroes, then to look at the way the film treats them... and with Polanski this is always a fresh, beautiful, and rewarding task.
"Arr, mateys, shiver me timbers!" is what you feel like shouting while watching this involving modern pirate movie that should become a classic. Roman Polanski had wanted to make a pirate movie such as this one for a long time, starting in the Lodz Film Academy in Poland, and finally did it - unfortunately, the problems he had affected the movie and made it a theatrical flop. Quite unfairly, as it has everything a pirate fan might want - a lovely score, breathtaking scenery, props and settings, a script that is adventurous and funny, good acting - and plenty of fun and adventure! And, most importantly, the amazing Walter Matthau as the best stereotypical pirate cap'n you'll ever see! Matthau performance is breathtaking - I can see his Cap'n Red standing arm-in-arm with Blackbeard, Black Bart and Captain Kidd, shouting orders at the "mateys"... Highly recommended for any fan of swashbuckling adventures - and for everyone else! (And while you're out to buy this movie, don't miss the equally underrated, and also very good, newer "Cutthroat Island" with Frank Langella).
This film is one of Polanski's masterpieces. He did to pirate movies what
Sergio Leone did to western: showing the opposite of the usual sancticised
glamorous movie portrayal of an era, yet achieving an epic effect, and
images you want to see again and again.
But a difference to Leone, beyond a high dose of irony and situation comic, is the bittersweet ingredient of the Central-Eastern-European experience, of lack of success and constant failure, constantly hitting all of our heroes in the film.
Memories of living under communism might have also played a role in the (for me) most memorable part of the movie, the failed mutiny followed by the successful mutiny aboard the Spanish ship: the way the aristocrats have power over the people, and make Captain Red and The Frog eat the rat. And then, hilarious juxtaposing, the mutiny is like a parody of a communist revolution.
But the best thing about the film are the actors. Walter Matthau is at his best as the grumpy old liar Captain Red, Damien Thomas is terrific as Don Alfonso the hyper-arrogant Spanish aristocrat who'll never loses his superiority, Roy Kinnear the embodiment of ugliness as the Dutch, and also the young no-names Cris Campion (playing The Frog, the naive young Frenchman at Captain Red's side) and Charlotte Lewis (playing the even more naive daughter of the governor).
When I was a kid growing up I got into this PC game called Sid Meier's
Pirates. I wanted to do everything pirate related. For some reason I
never fully identified with the Errol Flynn pirate. He was always a
good guy, who got caught up in the circumstances and was still trying
to be a good guy. He was always chivalrous, clean and relatively good
looking. Thank the contents of Davey Jones' locker for Roman Polanski.
In all honesty, it was the VHS cover that first attracted me to this
movie : Walter Matthau dressed up as a disheveled looking Captain
Morgan, cutlass drawn and pointed as us.
The movie revolves mainly around the exploits of the stool-legged Captain Bartholomew Red (Mathau) and his French first mate (who at times resembles dinner), the Frog. On the heels of their last adventure (see Boca del Toro), the movie starts out in the middle of the ocean with our two protagonists on a raft floating around, mad with hunger. After encountering a Spanish galleon (the Neptune) and performing a self-rescue, the story shifts into main gear : the Aztec Throne of Zapotec Anahuak.
This is by far my favorite pirate movie. It has all the right elements - action, adventure, ship battles, wooden appendages, sword fighting, humor, barrels of rum, gold, prison, cross dressing, cockney accents, love, large feathery hats, giant wigs and even the attractive Charlotte Lewis (remember Eddie's love interest from the Golden Child). Walter Matthau is clearly the standout character in this movie. His Captain Red is an amalgamate of various pirates but yet stands on its own because of Matthau. Red is haughty, greedy, ambitious, inspirational, conniving, and single-minded when it comes to gold. This is made all the more apparent by the juxtapose to his highly idealistic first mate. Where as Captain Jack Sparrow is a bit on the weaselly side, Captain Red is more like a scraggly wolf. It was also beneficial that Matthau was a tall 6 foot 3 inches tall, giving Captain Red a larger than life persona. If not for Keith Richards, I think Captain Red could have been more than an appropriate inspiration for Mr. Depp.
Roman Polanski does an excellent job in de-glamorizing the pirate lifestyle. Even Captain Jack Sparrow is a bit on the tame side (Thank You Disney). If Errol Flynn was the prototype, then Walter Matthau is the grittier, colorized version. What Polanski did for vampires with the Fearless Vampire Killers, he does the same for the pirate genre with this movie. On top of the typical "pirate" behavior, Polanski has even added commentary on the day. This would include the class divisions between the officers and crew, the political strife between the English, Dutch, French and the haughty Spanish (the RIAA of the day) and the unquenchable lust for gold.
This movie was maligned by the critics when it came out and has since sunk into anonymity. This should not be so. It contains one of Matthau's best performances and is the best pirate movie ever made. Unfortunately, if you don't like pirates or adventure movies, then you probably will like the English Patient and not this. For everyone else, I highly recommend the Spanish (manga films) region 2 DVD of this movie (presented in anamorphic 16x9).
I agree with many of the comments here, but most have opted to concentrate on Walter Matthau's (forgive the spelling if it's wrong) delicious performance as Captain Red. While it is undeniably brilliant - a few dodgy accent moments aside - especially when you consider how few risks many actors take with their casting, I would like to draw attention to a fine performance by Cris Campion as The Frog. When I was watching this again the other day and getting my girlfriend to watch it, she at first despaired when I told her the frog was the romantic lead. I told her to have patience, and at the end she could, after all, see why he was the object of Dolores' love. Head and shoulders above nearly all young actors around at the moment, Campion exudes passion, swashbuckling- derring-do and smouldering charm as well as being an excellent foil for Matthau's comic exertions. This makes his love story with Dolores all the more heightened and genuinely affecting. In many modern "buddy" films, the onscreen duo have no chemistry and are simply put together to maximise box office interest, but Matthau and Campion are a perfectly matched pair, the frog's unfaltering loyalty to his captain matching Red's utterly selfish backstabbing. You get the feeling that if there is one person in the world that Red would not betray, it might be the frog - even if he might eat him!
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