53 user 22 critic

Pirates (1986)

PG-13 | | Adventure, Comedy | 18 July 1986 (USA)
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


Adventure | Comedy


PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


The name of the priceless ancient Aztec gold throne was the "Capatiec Hanoccac." The Aztec king it originally belonged to was "Kapatek-Anahuac." See more »


Captain Thomas Bartholomew Red: Holy poker! You son of a double-eyed whore from the reeking gutters of Rotterdam!
See more »

Alternate Versions

For unknown reasons the German version was cut by ca. 20 min. See more »


Referenced in Roman Polanski: A Film Memoir (2011) See more »


Il était un petit navire
Traditional French song
Performed by Cris Campion and Walter Matthau
See more »

User Reviews

The best pirate film
7 March 2004 | by daneeloSee all my reviews

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).

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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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