Hollywood has given piracy something of a whitewash, eliminating the murder, mayhem and other antisocial behaviors in favor of splendid adventure on the high seas.
I have no objections.
Though the reality of piracy is violent, the sanitized version of these seafaring criminals makes for an iconic genre of film that, in my living room, at least, never fails to entertain.
In celebration of the release of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, here's a list of a few favorites:
THE CRIMSON PERMANENT assurance (1983): Though not a feature film, this imaginative short, which finds an aging office of accountants transforming themselves into literal corporate raiders, is beautiful, bright and very funny. Originally filmed for inclusion in the Monty Python film The Meaning of Life, it has a unique style that made it more appropriate as a pre-film featurette.
THE SEA HAWK (1940): Expert swashbuckler Errol Flynn plays Geoffrey Thorpe, an English privateer who raids the Spanish Armada in the name of queen, country and, in true pirate fashion, a few doubloons. This adventure ranks with The Adventures of Robin Hood in terms of classic Hollywood action.
CAPTAIN BLOOD (1935): Another Flynn classic, this film features the action star as Peter Blood, a physician unjustly convicted and sentenced to slavery in the Caribbean. Predictably, he escapes and with a crew of former convicts, hits the high seas as a well-intentioned buccaneer.
THE CRIMSON PIRATE (1952): A matinee masterpiece, this Technicolor epic isn't much for nuance, but makes up for it in sheer audacity and athletic, rigging-swinging fun. Burt Lancaster plays the good-natured Captain Vallo, the leader of a band of salty brigands. There is a romantic subplot (those governors' daughters sure get around) and the inevitable chance for piratic redemption, but what makes this movie work is the energy and excitement generated by former circus performer Lancaster and his equally enthusiastic crew.
THE BLACK SWAN (1942): The world has all but forgotten about Tyrone Power, arguably one of the most charismatic leading men of the mid-20th century. In this pirate adventure, he plays Jaime Waring, a pirate at odds with Henry Morgan, the pirate-turned-governor of Jamaica. The film also stars Maureen O'Hara as the fiery object of Capt. Waring's affections.
Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or firstname.lastname@example.org.