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Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Black Pirate (released in 1926) - starring Douglas Fairbanks, Donald Crisp, Sam De Grasse, and Billie Dove

The Black Pirate is a adventure film of the silent era and it stars Douglas Fairbanks, Donald Crisp, Sam De Grasse, and Billie Dove. The film begins with the looting of a ship by the pirates. The crew are murdered and the whole ship is blown up by the pirates. As the looters make merry of their plunder and cart away the treasure, a father and son duo fight the sea to be washed ultimately over an abandoned island. The father passes away after giving the son his signet ring. The son wows revenge and carves on the tombstone "MY FATHER I SOLEMNLY VOW TO BRING THY MURDERERS TO JUSTICE". Viewers have to bear in mind that this is a silent film and the written word helps us to gauge the dialogues.
Meanwhile the Captain and the Pirates come over to the same island and they plan to bury the treasure in one of the caves. The evil Captain and the Lieutenant plan to kill the others to usurp the treasure. But they are stopped by the arrival of the Son who declares his intention of becoming a pirate. The Captain declines and one of the men MacTavish asks him his qualifications to become one. The son moves over to the Captain and slaps him and is soon challenged to a duel. The captain whips out his cut-lass to kill him and the son takes another one to take him on. The captain is killed by the son's superior swordsmanship and he is accepted by the pirate gang. The lieutenant does not like the new member but he keeps his silence.

Soon the son earns his stripes as a black pirate. The Lieutenant tells him that to confirm his credentials he must show more character. The black pirate assures him that he single handedly can subdue a ship. Soon another ship looms over the horizon and the black pirate captures the ship. But it takes all his ingenuity to keep the looters from murdering the crew which consists of a Princess and her entourage. The lieutenant wins her through lots and the black pirate persuades him to keep her from harm to get a ransom.
The lieutenant reluctantly agree as all other crew member support the black pirate. He soon comes clean with the princess and shows him the signet ring. He tries to rescue the princess and is soon captured and ordered to walk the plank. But MacTavish cuts him loose and the black pirate swims to safety. Soon he returns and after much heroics manages to free the ship, kill the other pirates and win the princess. Then the Black Prate and the Princess sail away in to the sun set.
This movie is pure unadulterated entertainment with the swashbuckling Douglas Fairbanks as the black pirate. His swashbuckling antics, pure athleticism brings credibility to the action sequences. In most of the silent movies the actions are mostly over the top acting and this is required to get the viewer to understand the sequences. So sometimes it may appear a little weird to see lot of exaggeration. This movie is one the first movies to be shot in two tone Technicolor. The script was adapted by Jack Cunningham from a story by Fairbanks, who used his middle names "Elton Thomas" as a pseudonym. The film was directed by Albert Parker and has been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.

The Black Pirate (released in 1926) - starring Douglas Fairbanks, Donald Crisp, Sam De Grasse, and Billie Dove

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