IT’S “TALK LIKE A PIRATE DAY”, mateys, and if you didn’t hoard enough Pieces of Eight to enroll in Essential Pirate-ese this fall, there’s still hope for you! Aye, that’s right! Pirate movies!
While the veracity of pirate-speak in these films cannot be confirmed, and while not all of these suggested films will shiver your timbers, they’re all highly pirate-esque. And most of them are available somewhere on the high, streaming seas (or via disk). In no particular order:
PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN: CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL (2003; Johnny Depp) Faithfully based on the very popular Disney park attraction. Tongue-in-cheek, non-stop action; followed by two sequels, this is the best of the three. “Excels in such departments as buried treasure, pirates’ caves, pet parrots and walking the plank, although there is a shortage of eye patches and hooks.” –Roger Ebert
THE SEA HAWK (1940; Errol Flynn, Claude Rains) Quintessential pirate movie. Terrific score by Erich Wolfgang Korngold. “As good an old-time adventure as you’ll find. It has great ships, sea battles, swordplay, spies, slaves, Spaniards, even a little smooching.” –Danny Peary
THE PRINCESS AND THE PIRATE (1944; Bob Hope, Virginia Mayo) Walter Slezak was born to play a stereotypical swashbuckler. Hope… was not, but he and Walter Brennan are both hilarious in one of Hope’s best movies. “One of Bob’s wackiest; great closing gag.” –Leonard Maltin
THE PIRATE MOVIE (1982; Kristy McNichol, Christopher Atkins) Yet another failed attempt to revive the pirate movie only set back the genre even further. Rated a paltry 9% on RottenTomatoes.com
CAPTAIN BLOOD (1935; Errol Flynn, Basil Rathbone) Fantastic swordplay and pirate clichés in this spirited Michael Curtiz film have never been equalled. “Flynn has the smile and dash.” –Pauline Kael
THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE (1983; Kevin Kline, Linda Ronstadt) OK adaptation of the Gilbert and Sullivan musical. “Pirate King Kline is definitely the most dashing thing since Errol Flynn swung from his last chandelier.” –Time Out
SWASHBUCKLER (1976; Robert Shaw, Peter Boyle) This is a so-so attempt at reviving the spirit of Errol Flynn. “Better technically than the classics of the 1930s, but in terms of vision, it’s a blood relative of, well, ‘Captain Blood.’” –Roger Ebert
YELLOWBEARD (1983; Graham Chapman, Cheech Marin, James Mason) Embarrassing effort at a spoof should have been much better, considering the writers were Graham Chapman and Peter Cook. “BOMB; Appalling waste of talent” –Leonard Maltin
THE PIRATE (1948; Judy Garland, Gene Kelly) Colorful Vincente Minnelli musical with a Cole Porter score, plus an appearance by the wonderful Nicholas Brothers dancing duo. “Though it doesn’t quite work, and it’s all a bit broad, it doesn’t sour in the memory. ” –Pauline Kael
TREASURE ISLAND (1950; Bobby Driscoll) There may never be as perfect a pirate as Robert Newton in this fun, lively Disney adaptation. “The best film version of the familiar Stevenson story.” –TV Guide
Ahoy! A few more: AGAINST ALL FLAGS, HOOK, LONG JOHN SILVER, MUPPET TREASURE ISLAND, CAPTAIN KIDD, BLACKBEARD’S GHOST, and, of course, PETER PAN.