53 user 22 critic

Pirates (1986)

The adventures of pirate Captain Red and his first mate Frog.


Roman Polanski


John Brownjohn (screenplay collaboration), Gérard Brach (as Gerard Brach) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Walter Matthau ... Captain Thomas Bartholomew Red
Cris Campion ... The Frog - Jean-Baptiste
Damien Thomas ... Don Alfonso de la Torré
Olu Jacobs Olu Jacobs ... Boomako
Ferdy Mayne ... Captain Linares
David Kelly ... Surgeon
Tony Peck ... Spanish Officer (as Anthony Peck)
Anthony Dawson ... Spanish Officer
Richard Dieux Richard Dieux ... Spanish Officer
Jacques Maury Jacques Maury ... Spanish Officer
José Santamaría José Santamaría ... Master at Arms (as Jose Santamaría)
Robert Dorning Robert Dorning ... Commander of Marines
Luc Jamati Luc Jamati ... Pepito Gonzalez
Emilio Fernandez Emilio Fernandez ... Angelito (as Emilio Fernandez)
Wladyslaw Komar ... Jesus (as Wladislaw Komar)


Captain Red runs a hardy pirate ship with the able assistance of Frog, a dashing young French sailor. One day Capt. Red is captured and taken aboard a Spanish galleon, but thanks to his inventiveness, he raises the crew to mutiny, takes over the ship, and kidnaps the niece of the governor of Maracaibo. The question is, can he keep this pace up? Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Timothy Dalton was to play the part of Don Alfonso de la Torre, but backed out of the movie to make himself available for the next James Bond film, The Living Daylights (1987). He also didn't get on with Roman Polanski. Damien Thomas replaced him in the role on short notice. See more »


When Jean-Baptiste escapes the shark at the beginning of the film, it is quite visible that the "shark" is just a fin in the water. See more »


Don Alfonso de la Torré: I fear we have no vanilla.
See more »

Alternate Versions

16 secs were cut from the UK theatrical version by the BBFC and the 1987 Warner video was pre-cut by 1 min 30 secs with edits to the attempted rape of María-Dolores in order for the film to receive a PG certificate. The uncut version was released in 1996 with a "15" certificate. See more »


Referenced in Clive James Meets Roman Polanski (1984) See more »


Il était un petit navire
Traditional French song
Performed by Cris Campion and Walter Matthau
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User Reviews

The best pirate film of recent times
17 January 2003 | by robinkingSee all my reviews

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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France | Tunisia


English | French | Spanish

Release Date:

18 July 1986 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Pirates See more »

Filming Locations:

Malta See more »


Box Office


$40,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,035,447, 20 July 1986

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)| Dolby Stereo (35 mm prints)


Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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