Swashbuckler (1976) Poster


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A great, all-around FUN pirate movie for the entire family!
Shamenize21 April 2005
First off, you've got to remember - This is NOT "The Life & Times Of Blackbeard"! It's a fun seventies romp - The Four Musketeers on the high seas! Now that you have that in mind, read on.

How can one NOT like this movie?! It's the ONLY example of a "pirate movie" in my entire DVD collection - but it's the only one anyone needs. Robert Shaw turns in a commanding and amused performance as Red Ned Lynch - the captain of a scurvy band of pirates including James Earl Jones as Nick and Geoffrey Holder (The UNcola guy... you remember!) as Nick's knife wielding friend, Cujo. Throw in Genevieve Bujold as the damsel in distress/female interest, add Peter Boyle as the classic slimy Governor who abuses his subjects and you've got a recipe for an entertaining hour and forty minutes! Pay attention to some of the supporting character actors and you'll see quite a few you recognize from movies and TV of the time period - Avery Schrieber, Alfie Wise and Sid Haig just to name a few. And of course, we can't forget Beau Bridges as a perfectly stiff soldier and Angelica Huston as she known only as "Woman Of Dark Visage".

Plotwise, this movie has it all - a British Governor who likes to spend his days in the bath playing with ships... a twisted little DeSade in training at his beck and call... the obligatory wronged member of the British aristocracy and his family-in-need... and of course, the moronic civil servant, Major Folly, who only wants to capture Red Ned Lynch and please The Governor.

Do yourself a favor and go rent this one for the weekend - or even better, pick up the DVD. It's relatively cheap as an older catalog title and definitely a keeper. Because EVERYbody needs a good pirate flick now and again.
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One of My MOST Favorite Guilty Pleasures
Jeri-917 March 2001
I LOVE this movie. I don't care how terrible critics might think it is. It's fun, romantic, entertaining, an old fashioned yarn. It came out right after Robert Shaw made a "splash" in Jaws, and he's fabulous as usual. Don't let them make you feel guilty about loving this movie. It's great.
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An unjustly buried film ...
Ravenswing14 April 2005
... then and now.

Alright, I saw this flick as the opener for a circus in Radio City Music Hall on my first trip to NYC in 1976. I thought it grand then, and I haven't much changed my mind.

I do agree with those who think that a better villain and ingenue could have been found than Peter Boyle and Genevieve Bujold (one of the most overrated actresses of the time), but the Shaw-Jones pairing sparkles. I loved the score so much I bought the soundtrack on vinyl -- dare I hope that it may be out on CD somewhere? The flick isn't long on plot, really, but the cinematography and action are spiffy, the characterizations work, and man, is Geoffrey Holder a bad ass! It's a sprightly movie and you'll spend a fun time watching it. Who knows, you might even have limerick contests with your mates the next time you're escaping from the local militia.

Rating: 7/10
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Amusing adventures with intrepid pirates and exotic scenarios
ma-cortes8 September 2010
Heroism , sword-play , ambushes and full of villainy swashbuckler . The film is a nice pirate-adventures movie , lavishly produced by recently deceased Elliott Kastner with habitual dueling, dungeon getaways , disguises and sexual hostility between hero and heroine . This classic story of romantic adventure comes to life enriched by Technicolor cinematography and accompanied by an excellent score . It is the tale of a buccaneer named Ned Lynch ( Robert Shaw recent his success in ¨Jaws¨ ) who takes over a ship of corsairs and wreak havoc on the high seas . The pirate join forces to Nick ( James Earl Jones of ¨Conan¨) and a knife-throwing giant (Geoffrey Holder of ¨Live and let die¨). They square off their nemesis, the viceroy of Jamaica ( Peter Boyle of ¨Young Frankestein¨) and his hoodlums ( a stiff and idiot Beau Bridges ). They're going a buccaneer settlement where meet the plundered judge's daughter (Genevieve Bujold of ¨Fascination¨) . Meanwhile, viceroy wishes a shipment of gold to transport from Jamaica until Spain . Then , they decide to take the ruler headquarter , the location strongest fortified from Jamaica.

This is an agreeable entertainment juvenile romp well written by Jeffrey Bloom . The movie displays in grandiose style noisy action, swashbuckler, heroism , swordplay , slapdash , overwhelming fights, fist-play and humor with tongue in cheek . This release has some nice and even hilarious moments here and there , though isn't always interesting , sometimes is diverting and fresh and on a couple of sympathetic occasions is frankly delicious . Robert Shaw is cool as the pirate hero who finds dangerous situations while trying rob the shipment and save damsel in distress . This adventure movie with a high budget of multi-million of dollars packs breathtaking places , sea-fight and amusing plot . It's enriched by colorful cinematography reflecting spectacularly sea beaches by cameraman Philip Lathtrop filmed in location in Puerta Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico and Singapore Lake, Backlot, Universal Studios, Universal City Plaza, California . Furthermore , lively and impressive musical score by John Addison . The motion picture is well directed by James Golstone ( Roller-coaster , When time ran out ). This standard and entertaining 7o's swashbuckling that combines with certain gusto all staples of the genre to be liked for Robert Shaw and Genevieve Bujold fans. Rating : Good , worthwhile watching .
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remember what movies are for . . . . . . . ??
traderviqz31 August 2005
If one can simply recall that movies are to take us away, whether from or to is personally specific, then it would take a profoundly negative person to think poorly of any well made and well acted movie. This is such a flick, decently focused relative to plot, well chosen costuming and locations, great cinematography . . . what more can you ask? If you want a 'film', with all its highbrow silliness, it's true you might not wanna go there with this one, but jeez, does anyone who only goes to 'films' even tell anyone else they know that they're painfully pretentious? This one has no pretensions, and since when is Genevieve in any state of undress a minus? Good entertainment, which is what I want when i spend money on a movie, and Swashbuckler delivers with aplomb.

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As good as Pirates of the Caribbean
CromeRose18 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Elliott Kastner, the Executive Producer of this movie, was unfairly disliked by many people in his day, which I believe is what led to many of the critics panning this film (who cares what they say? I like to think for myself). Elliott was a great producer and an amazing entrepeneur, and he was just doing his thing like many others in Hollywood during his heyday. He was one of the most successful independent producers of all time so he must have been doing something right, and perhaps many of the people who disliked him did so out of jealousy. I saw this film for the first time recently and just have to say well done! Robert Shaw is the best pirate ever and James Earl Jones is incredible as his equal, and best friend. It's wonderful to see him so young and full of vitality! Peter Boyle is perfectly over-the-top and what can anyone say about Beau Bridges except Bravo! The film is a rollicking good time with some of the best sword fighting and stunts ever seen in a movie -- the stagecoach off the cliff beats any CGI any day of the week. I think Cutthroat Island (which is not bad in itself) is a ripoff of this film, and even Zorro with the incomparable Tony Hopkins and Catherine Zeta-Jones borrowed a little from the scene where Robert Shaw starts cutting off Genevieve Bujold's clothing in a sword fight. Watch the making of featurette on the DVD and you'll see James Earl Jones come close to serious harm while doing one of the stagecoach stunts. It's incredible. All in all, the critics should leave this movie, and Elliott, alone! Bravo!
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Corny but cute
didi-510 February 1999
Despite Maltin's great slagging-off of this movie (has he actually seen it, I wonder??), I reckon it was a little gem in an era when a lot of filmmakers took themselves and their work far too seriously! Guaranteed to lift the blues on any bad day, it may be a bit corny, it might have been misguided to make a pirate flick in the mid-70s, but there are certainly a lot worse examples of the genre around, and this one is quite a cute and appealing film.
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One of My Favorite "Guilty Pleasure" Movies
yuga219 March 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Yeah, yeah it was blasted by the critics (eunichs in a harem). But to heck with them! Does anyone remember the term "popcorn movie?" That's what this is; a movie to just sit back and enjoy. No complicated plot, not trying to guess whodunit, no social message... And why not? Why does every film need to make a "statement?" Well, here's MY statement:

This is one of the most fun films I have ever seen. Robert Shaw was one of my favorite actors and he shines as Red Ned Lynch, using his REAL accent here. James Earl Jones is a hottie in this as is his knife throwing buddy Cujo. Beau Bridges shows a real flair for comedy, too bad he doesn't do more. Peter Boyle may not have been the perfect casting but he chews the scenery as well as he can. This is Angelica Houston's FIRST film, hence no dialogue and enigmatic casting nomenclature. In the book adaptation (yes, there is one) it's hinted that she's the Gov.'s sister & they have an incestuous relationship. I agree that Bujold is kind of out of place here but, she manages. The duel between her and Shaw is classic. "Never fight fair when yer fighting for yer life." I love that they got the Golden Hind to "play" the Blarney Cock. A forerunner to the Lady Washington's role in "Pirates of the Caribbean." The small roles are played by character actors of high caliber. The stunts... good lord! Do you EVER think they'd do that wagon stunt again? Great stunt team!

And the soundtrack is awesome! I used to listen to it over and over. (My poor puzzled Mother.. she never got why I would listen to soundtracks.) John Addison should have been honored for this one. Like the chase music from "Jaws", it evokes a feel of the sea; wild and open and flowing. Gorgeous. The cinematography is beautiful. Jamaica is a beautiful place to shoot so how could they go wrong?

I'm a pirate lover. Have been all my life. To me, this feels more true to the spirit of the real pirate than the Errol Flynn and older ones (Not knocking them - they're great, too). One thing I always point out is that the "head" is at the front of the ship, over the water. A tiny detail, yet adding to the realism. The movie is full of these little details.

So, you say you like pirate movies? Have a couple hours, a bowl of popcorn, a beer (or soft drink) and want to laugh and have some fun? You could do a lot worse than watch this film. Be sure to try to get the Widescreen version. And never forget, "I'm not a gentleman... I'm an Irishman!"
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Not a great movie, but a fun one
susannah-516 March 2000
It looks like this movie was done on the cheap, but it is a lot of fun, anyway. Robert Shaw is terrific and has a twinkle in his eye the whole time, Peter Boyle is such a wonderfully bad villain, Genevieve Bujold is sort of a cut rate Princess Leia, and the theme music really makes you feel like you're sailing the high seas. Not to mention James Earl Jones, who looks fit and trim in this movie.
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Enjoyable farce
Robert Reynolds10 May 2000
The reviewer of this film in Leonard Maltin's Guide called this a bomb. While it is not the greatest movie of all time, there are definitely enough moments that make the movie worth watching. It's probably Beau Bridges' best work, Avery Schrieber is wonderful, Geoffrey Holder is stupendous and to top it off, James Earl Jones is in the movie! That alone makes it not a bomb in my book. It's a fun, mindless movie that I found delightful.
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Pure unadulterated fun
lhsheriff10 September 2000
Those looking for a "serious attempt" at a pirate film in 1976 are bound to be disappointed. This was meant to be nothing more than an entertaining, action film and I think it succeeded admirably.

But if you want social context, look no further then James Earl Jones having a grand time playing Robert Shaw's equal in every imaginable aspect - a rarity for African-American performers today, and even rarer in 1976.

For those STILL looking for deep meanings, I quote the last line of the film: "Draw the curtains, the farce has ended."
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Fun Movie...Give it a Break!!!
puterdude4 April 2004
I'm tired of Leonard Maltin and anyone else who panned this movie! I agree with 85-95% of what he usually reviews. HOWEVER, there are some movies you just gotta accept as fun, and disregard bad parts (like the whole Peter Boyle role--geez, they coulda gotten a better bad guy). Robert Shaw is a perfect pirate, and he and James Earl Jones made a great duo. The acrobatics / fencing / cannons is just a whole lot of action packed fun, with the HAHAHHAHA guy from the soda commercials and James Bond "Live and Let Die" movie. Beau Bridges' part is the perfect MASH / Frank Burns type; great for the other characters to make fun of. But, being a musician, what stood out to me is the music. Too bad they didn't use more Sound studio effects like reverb or chorusing, because the score is awesome. The cinematograpy is awesome, too; beautiful wide / panned shots of Jamaica and its mountains / coastline. Not the best movie to have your kids watch with you, as it gets suggestively racy in some parts, but, I'd put this in the same category of "almosts" like Remo Williams, Punisher, King Solomon's Mines (Richard Chamberlain / Sharon Stone). So, lighten up, get yer popcorn and Diet Coke, and have fun! Aye, Cap'n!!
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Not the disaster I had heard it was
preppy-329 May 2004
Pirate Ned Lynch (Robert Shaw) and his gang (including James Earl Jones) help Jane Barnet (Genevieve Bujold) fight evil Lord Durant (Peter Boyle).

This film has a very bad reputation. Critics hated it and it was a financial disaster at the box office. I can't figure out why. It's not perfect but it's not horrible. The bad things in it: Shaws' Irish accent makes some of his dialogue unintelligible; the scripts dialogue is aimed at kids; the character of Cudjo (Geoffrey Holder) is introduced--and then disappears for an hour!; ditto with Major Folly (Beau Bridges); the treatment of Bujold is horrible (and she acts very lost in this movie); there are some really strange kinky touches such as Bridges almost being tortured, Bujold's pointless nude swimming scene and Durant's bath with a young boy and having Anjelica Huston in the film...and giving her NO dialogue!

The good: With the exception of Bujold the cast is having a whale of a time (Bridges especially is enjoying himself); it's fun to see Jones so young and full of life; there's plenty of action (with some great sword fights); it's very lavishly produced and there's a rousing music score by John Addison.

Basically it's a fun way to kill of 100 minutes--I was never bored.

This is one of Hollywoods many failed attempts to revive the pirate movie. Through the 1980s and 90s they gave us --"The Island", Polanski's "Pirates", "The Pirate Movie" and "Cutthroat Island". All big budget bombs. Maybe Hollywood should give up (I'm not counting "Pirates of the Caribbean"--that was not a movie-it was an ad for a Disney theme park.)

Worth catching.
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Great Gratuitous Nude Scene
David Edward Martin30 July 2003
I often wonder if Bujold had it in her contracts that she HAD to appear naked at some point in any film she made in the 70s.

That said, the film is an enjoyable flick. I'm hoping the success of Pirates of the Caribbean (2003) prompts whoever owns Swashbuckler to give it a nice DVD release.
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Critics Were Wrong With This One
ragosaal25 October 2006
Critics were hard on "Swashbuckler" in my Country too. However I've been watching films for 45 years now and there are some things I'm pretty sure on movies. As most things in life everything is just a matter of opinion and each one's own preferences and tastes. Critics are just movie fans -like any other one- that have the possibility of making their opinions known, but that's the only difference with us, and in fact I don't agree with them very often. "Swashbuckler" is one of those cases. Considering this film within it's genre -there's no other way to analyze a film- I found it most entertaining and enjoyable.

The first point in favor of "Swashbuckler" is that the director, crew and actors didn't take it too seriously and they aimed to an action, romance, amusing and unpretentious pirate movie; and they succeeded in my opinion.

Robert Shaw was no Errol Flynn and he didn't even try to be but he is convincing as pirate Captain Ned Lynch who joins a noble damsel in distress (Genevieve Bujold) to fight tyrannic Jamaica governor Durant played by Peter Boyle (he isn't Basil Rathbone and also doesn't pretend to be) who achieves a most original and colorful villain (his deadly sword training with more than one opponent at a time is most enjoyable and interesting). The rest of the cast that includes James Earl Jones, a funny Beau Bridges and Angelica Houston are a good support too.

Director James Goldstone does a prolix job in beautiful Caribbean outdoor sceneries and keeps entertainment all along with very well achieved action scenes and sword play.

All in all, if you enjoy pirate films this is one to see (the critics opinions notwithstanding).
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Action packed with a good dose of humor.
mgb25 January 2003
I first saw this movie on the big screen and a few years ago rented it on VHS. I enjoyed it both times and plan to add it to my DVD collection. This is a really fun movie to watch. The hero is a bit mischievous, and that is mostly what adds the humor. The acting was well done and all the characters were believable. There is lots of high action sword fighting.
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Surprisingly Fun! Not Citizen Kane, but def worth a look!
jbar1923 December 2002
I really like this movie. It's a movie confection. It's not to be taken too seriously. It has a lot of well known actors (when they were young!) , beautiful scenery, good guys, bad guys and tons of action. There is one stunt where they ride a stagecoach off a cliff into the ocean that is outstanding even by today's standards.

I originally saw this movie in the theatre when I was about 13 years old. I recently rewatched it a few times just to see if my opinion would change. It didn't. This is a good one.

Plus, seeing a young Peter Boyle and a young, trim James Earl Jones is funny! You can't help but chuckle.

I give this one 7.5/8 stars out of 10.
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Coxer9924 March 1999
Shaw entertains in an Errol Flynn-like character in this fun film that features Jones as Shaw's sidekick and a hammy performance from Boyle as Shaw's dastardly villian. A Basil Rathbone he is not, but he throws enough of his weight around to keep the film going at a reasonable flow. Watch out for Anjelica Huston in the film also.
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This is the best pirate movie I have ever seen.
smackley29 April 2001
I first saw this movie when it first came out. Robert Shaw was fantastic in it. It is very funny, has action, a love story, adventure and a good story line. I cannot imagine anyone not enjoying this film. A must to see for all.
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What a wet blanket....
innocuous1 October 2009
No, this is not a terrible movie. But it's a bit of an endurance test to watch it. Echoing some of the reviewers (and in contrast to some others), I like the score and most of the actors/actresses. On the other hand, I don't care for their performances here. When you add to this the quite silly plot and action sequences, you come up with not much of anything. (Seeing Bujold nekkid would be some sort of compensation, but you can watch any of her other films and see a lot more than you do here.) In spite of using "The Golden Hinde" (a replica of the original) to stand in for "The Blarney Cock" and having some beautiful (Mexican) scenery, the remainder of the film is so totally unrealistic as to be insulting. It's just silly, but not in the slapstick way that POTC is. It earnestly tries to generate some tension at a few points and fails miserably.

Finally, I find it saddening to see Robert Shaw on the screen just two years before his death in such a role. He was immensely talented, but tortured by many personal demons (and the Tax Bureau). Knowing this just sucks out whatever fun the film might have generated.

In short, I wouldn't bother with this.
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Quint on the Seven Seas
Matthew_Capitano22 July 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Robert Shaw does his 'Quint' imitation (from 'Jaws') in this goofy pirate adventure.

During the playing of the clumsy musical score, 'Ned Lynch' (Shaw) runs around in his best red pirate blouse unbuttoned all the way down to his navel (you know, the way all gay pirates do). While 'Major Folly', portrayed by the typically over-acting Beau Bridges (Lloyd's load), conducts an execution of James Earl Jones, Lynch rescues the Black Man with the help of perfectly placed ropes for him to swing to shore on, and then back to his ship, which is conveniently displacing deep water a foot from the beach, all while the townspeople jump for joy for no apparent reason, complete with cartwheels and the triumphant yawping of a banana salesman (from whom Lynch later steals the dude's banana supply). Does Quint-- I mean, Lynch, know these people? Do they get some form of remuneration for their loyalty? Does anyone give a rat's butt?

Lynch continues to bounce around, smiling like an idiot, with his trusted crew which includes everybody's favorite effeminate giant, Geoffrey Holder, and pudgy Avery Schreiber (who wears a 'half-shirt'.... yuck!) with his cheesy mustache in tow. Finally, Lynch meets the token damsel-in-distress (Genevieve Bujold) who is trying to retrieve her necklace from one of the crew sluts. The resident villain is Peter Boyle (I bet he does a kill Brando impersonation).

Smash-cut to the plot.... Genevieve must conscript Lynch to her service in order to free associate political prisoners who await execution. The rest is more blarney interspersed with every pirate movie cliché in the archives. For note, one of Lynch's men speaks 'monkey', Lynch's ship is equipped in the script with a 'character name', and there's a rooster on-board for laughs, of which there are few. Horrendously directed by James Goldstone who must have run out of film (or money) judging by the way the movie cuts off abruptly without the luxury of a satisfying final scene.

From the vault of Goldstone's private stock crock. Tune in if you must. My rating: 2 stars for Genevieve Bujold's boobs.... one for each boob.
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Possibly the most misguided movie ever made.... hard to believe this film actually has admirers.
Jonathon Dabell11 July 2007
Warning: Spoilers
"Swashbuckler" seems to be a love-it or hate-it kind of film. Almost every professional review of the film you come across ranks it as an unmitigated disaster. Yet almost every armchair critic who has seen it seems to reserve a soft spot for the film, hailing it as an entertaining guilty pleasure. In this particular debate, I feel compelled to throw in my opinion (for what it's worth). And, sadly, I think the professionals got it absolutely right on this occasion. Possibly the most misguided movie ever made, a cringe-worthy embarrassment that fails profoundly to recreate the heyday of those wonderful '30s and '40s pirate flicks, "Swashbuckler" is simply staggering in its awfulness.

Roguish buccaneer Ned Lynch (Robert Shaw) sails the Caribbean seas with his motley crew in search of adventure. Having rescued his friend Nick Debrett (James Earl Jones) from the gallows, he next finds his path crossed with wronged lady aristocrat Jane Barnet (Genevieve Bujold). Although initially Jane and Ned can barely stand each other, they soon find themselves united in their struggle to rid Jamaica of its corrupt governor Durant (Peter Boyle). After various adventures - sword-fights, duels, rescues and romances - they complete their mission and, of course, the bickering hero and heroine finally realise they're in love.

Shaw is criminally wasted as the roguish Ned Lynch, given nothing to do other than look dashing. Any actor with a touch of charisma could have pulled off the role - it's just a boring part for an actor who looks rightly bored with it. Bujold is equally wasted as a thoroughly helpless, irritating and unresourceful leading lady. But by far the worst of the main parts - and one which left me genuinely embarrassed for the actor involved - falls to Peter Boyle. Poor Boyle is left to deliver some of the worst dialogue imaginable as the villain of the piece, his terrible lines further heightened by the campy approach in which he is asked to indulge himself. While the music and the location photography deserve a better showcase, every other aspect of the film royally stinks! It is scripted with naive ineptitude; plotted without originality; directed without the slightest sense of spirit or period; and presented so unevenly that it is impossible to tell whether we are watching something serious or slapstick. Those who have found things to enjoy in "Swashbuckler" are welcome to it.... personally, I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy!
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rodrig5819 May 2018
I forgot that I saw it when I was a teenager. So, I watched it again in May 2018. I wanted to see it thanks to Robert Shaw, because I like this actor a lot. Then I rediscovered that there is also a young and beautiful Geneviève Bujold, a young Peter Boyle, a young Beau Bridges. Geneviève Bujold is very sweet and Boyle and Bridges are very different than usual, all three very good. James Earl Jones is different than usual too. Geoffrey Holder, I know him well from "Live and Let Die", but also from "Annie" and "Krakatoa: East of Java". Also directed by James Goldstone, I have seen "Rollercoaster" (1977), "The Gang That Could Not Shoot Straight" (1971) and "Jigsaw" (1968). The most I liked this "Swashbuckler". It's not the greatest role of Robert Shaw, but it's a pleasure anytime to see him, a very special actor with a unique charm and personality. In a small and mute role, a very young Anjelica Huston.
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Patent-Pending Pirate Puke
Tracy Winters25 July 2017
Why are all contemporary pirate movies the same? It's the repetitive schtick of adventuresome music accompanied by a daring hero, the token wench, and the typical gay pirate rigamarole.

Bob Shaw is such a wild guy. Gee, he's so wild. He steals bananas, almost kills the wench when he drives a wagon off a 200-foot cliff into the ocean surf below, and runs around on land doing nothing in particular except to fill his days with wasteful loafing. Gosh, he's such a wild-- zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

You've seen it all before, but I'm hesitant to say you'e seen anything better. These movies are all the same, the same old schtick.
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