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The Crimson Pirate (1952)

Not Rated | | Adventure, Comedy | 27 September 1952 (USA)
During the 1700s, pirate Captain Vallo seizes a British warship and gets involved in various money-making schemes involving Caribbean rebels led by El Libre, British envoy Baron Jose Gruda, and a beautiful courtesan named Consuelo.

Director:

Robert Siodmak

Writer:

Roland Kibbee
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Burt Lancaster ... Capt. Vallo (The Crimson Pirate)
Nick Cravat ... Ojo
Eva Bartok ... Consuelo
Torin Thatcher ... Humble Bellows
James Hayter ... Prof. Elihu Prudence
Leslie Bradley ... Baron José Gruda
Margot Grahame ... Bianca
Noel Purcell ... Pablo Murphy
Frederick Leister Frederick Leister ... Sebastian
Eliot Makeham ... Governor
Frank Pettingell ... Colonel
Dana Wynter ... La Signorita (as Dagmar Wynter)
Christopher Lee ... Joseph - Military Attaché
Ewan Roberts ... Claw Paw
John Chandos John Chandos ... Stub Ear
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Storyline

Burt Lancaster plays a pirate with a taste for intrigue and acrobatics who involves himself in the goings on of a revolution in the Caribbean in the late 1700s. A light hearted adventure involving prison breaks, an oddball Scientist, sailing ships, naval fights, and tons of swordplay. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Hurtling out of a Vast Arena of Breathless Adventure!. See more »

Genres:

Adventure | Comedy

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA | UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

27 September 1952 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Der rote Korsar See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,850,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$2,500,000, 31 December 1952
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Included among the American Film Institute's 2000 list of the 500 movies nominated for the Top 100 Funniest American Movies. See more »

Goofs

When Vallo and Ojo fly to the pirate ship in the hot air balloon, you can see the rope controlling the balloon as they jump into the rigging of the ship. See more »

Quotes

Humble Bellows: There goes a good pirate, Stub Ear, to sell his wares like a fish peddler. Meaning no disrespect to the skipper, of course.
Stub Ear: And us, with a price on our heads, hove to in one of His Majesty's ports like sitting ducks.
Poison Paul: But if the skipper pulls us through again, we'll be the ducks what laid the golden eggs.
Humble Bellows: Ye be thinking of geese, if you'll pardon the correction, Poison Paul. Geese... on a wild goose chase.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

What Shall We Do with the Drunken Sailor?
(uncredited)
Traditional sea shanty
See more »

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User Reviews

 
It's silly, and I love it!
27 February 2005 | by Igenlode WordsmithSee all my reviews

It's impossible to recapture the absolute bliss of seeing this film for

the first time, in all its impudence and style; but watching it yet again this afternoon, I found a broad grin back on my face within minutes. Burt Lancaster's cocky Captain Vallo -- golden-haired, silver-tongued, and sporting a fine taste in trademark crimson trousers -- is a Technicolour pirate straight out of the pages of legend, and it's a toss-up as to whether it's more fun watching him dazzle and bamboozle his way through the ranks of the dastardly Spaniards, every sea-rover's traditional foe, or seeing him taken down a richly-deserved peg or two when events don't go quite as anticipated. If Vallo had it all his own way, he'd be insufferable; but fortunately for the film, circumstances -- and the script -- conspire to unseat his schemes, with results both hilarious and touching.

Lancaster and Nick Cravat play off their old acrobatic routines against each other, separately and together, in a virtuoso display perfectly integrated into the action of the film. In "The Flame and the Arrow", the acrobatics felt shoe-horned in to show off the star's abilities. Here they develop naturally from the conventions of the genre, and the grace of the big man and pugnacity of the little one make for a gifted double-act. In the role of the loyal mute Ojo (as the leader of their rebel captors observes dryly, 'this one can't talk and the other can't stop talking!') Cravat repeats his eloquent, quickfire mime from the earlier production, providing the last 'word' for the film's ending and comic moments throughout.

The character of the first mate 'Humble' Bellows, with his Quakerish speech and rigid adherence to the old ways, is also a triumph. Implacably opposed to his captain's flashy plans for a double- and triple-cross on the grounds that it's more like business practice than honest piracy, and unmoved by Vallo's gift of the gab, his doom-saying has the unpalatable habit of seeming to come true as one complication after another arises. Yet he has a stubborn integrity of his own, and his loyalty is to the ship's company where Vallo's veers like a weathercock. He is a complex character we cannot in a way help but admire.

But above all, the essence of "The Crimson Pirate" is that it's *very*, *very* *silly*. Gloriously silly. This isn't about realism -- this is comic-strip stuff, where battle consists of tossing your enemies overboard into the water, laying them out cold with a belaying-pin, or stacking them up one by one on the floor of the captain's cabin; where a man with a sword can duel a man with a swinging block on the end of a piece of rope, and an athletic fugitive can escape down narrow streets by using awnings as trampolines and washing-poles as parallel bars. Like "Galaxy Quest", this film is both an affectionate spoof of its genre and a gripping contribution to that genre in its own right.

This is Adventure with a capital 'A', with a colourful unrepentant rogue of a hero, with devious Dons, thickwitted soldiery, heroic rebels, treachery, cruelty and gallantry against the odds - and generally an unexpected laugh around every corner. It's utterly impossible, of course, but -- believe only half of what you see... if that!


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