The Black Pirate - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Black Pirate Reviews

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August 24, 2016
Its a basic adventure movie with a huge budget, but the technical limitations means no real sword choreography. There's not a lot of actual sword fights but a bunch of "swashbuckling", but its all good fun I guess..
January 4, 2016
Doug Fairbanks leaps and bounds and slides down the rigging in this early two-strip Technicolor swashbuckler. Sure, it has a bunch of pirate clichťs (buried treasure, walking the plank) and lots of swordplay but it also seems to lag sometimes. The early color processing leaves things a bit more red and green than we are used to - especially in the outdoor shots. Doug swears to defeat the pirates after they capture his ship and kill his father, so he does what anyone would do - he joins up to defeat them from the inside. In the process, he also has to rescue Billie Dove who is on the next ship they capture - of course, he marries her in the end (when they are both revealed to be royalty). A bit of fun for Doug's fans but nowhere near as good as The Thief of Bagdad (1924).
½ November 19, 2015
ok silent swash buckler tale
Super Reviewer
August 14, 2013
This 1926 Douglas Fairbanks adventure vehicle was filmed with an early technicolor process. It is available on DVD with the restored color. Seeing the costumes and pirate ship sets in even this incomplete form of color is worth it. It is a thrill to see the way this gang of pirates is portrayed in the mid-20's. Some of the stunts would be repeated many times in later pirate adventures, but this is no Disney portrayal. Fairbanks vows revenge against the band of pirates, who captured and blew up the ship on which he was traveling. They ultimately caused the death of his father. Fairbanks is a nobleman, who takes on the alias of The Black Pirate to gradually win the trust of and outsmart the scalawags. He defeats the previous Captain (Randolf) in a duel. He wins the admiration of MacTavish (Donald Crisp) and a peg-leg pirate (Wallace) as well as most of the crew by showing them some new "tricks of the trade." He never quite wins over the suspicious Lieutenant (Sam De Grasse) or the anarchic powder man (Stevens). The Black Pirate helps to capture a merchant ship. A beautiful woman (Billie Dove) is found aboard and he tells the men she is a princess. He secretly does everything in his power to protect her, the merchant ship, and its other passengers from the lawlessness of the pirates. Tensions build as the hours pass on the sundial for The Black Pirate's plan. Will the Pirate Lieutenant let the new arrival take power so easily? No. He must save the damsel at all costs and they fall in love. Lots of athletic sword play and climbing all over the ships in Fairbanks' bag of tricks. A nice behind the scenes set of clips is included on the DVD that show how some of the stunts were achieved.
½ July 29, 2012
One of the earliest color films starring Douglas Fairbanks, it's a fun pirate-revenge film. Fairbanks plays a sailor whose ship is destroyed by pirates, so he infiltrates the pirate ship, pretending to be a pirate, and eventually becoming the revered "Black Pirate" of the seas. Of course there are incredible stunts throughout, expected from a Fairbanks flick, and this one does not disappoint.
November 24, 2011
Douglas Fairbanks. What more is there to need in a movie?
½ October 14, 2011
3.5: When I sat down to watch this 1926 swashbuckler for the first time the last thing I was expecting was for it to be in color. The two tone Technicolor process, which had been used on only two previous films, is certainly nothing like 1950's Technicolor, but it still produces a wide range of colors that simply seems like a more muted version of real life. Fairbanks carries the action and film with aplomb. Some of the stunt sequences are really quite impressive, while the swordplay doesn't quite live up to Rathbone/Flynn standards. The special effects are equally impressive for the day as the models used aren't that easy to pick out. The production values are fairly incredible as well, as even on a new Blu-Ray release everything still looks authentic. The locations are superb. I can definitely imagine this story being absolutely fascinating for young boys (I only wish I'd seen it as a child as I suspect I would have enjoyed it despite it's dialogue intertitles). The other main surprise, other than the color, was without a doubt the extremely violent and brutal acts either directly depicted or alluded to on screen. These are not very pleasant pirates. This rousing - but sometimes laughable effort by today's standards, especially when dealing with the romance at the end - picture truly must have something to behold back in its heyday.
Super Reviewer
September 30, 2011
A Classic from the silent-era and a wonderful pirate film that has action, romance and amazing stunts. Douglas Fairbanks is incredible in the lead role and the film is just a pure pleasure to watch! Highly Recommended if you are into Silent films!
July 19, 2011
Wonderful, adventerous, classic. Pirates in their cruel way as they should be and a shining hero who defeats them all and gets the lady in the end.
February 21, 2011
Watching this after seeing so many pirate films, well, it's easy to see where the influences are from. That said, Fairbanks puts them all to shame. Amazing in nearly every regard, you wont find a finer adventure popcorn movie. And not in a "for a film from 1926" way.
Super Reviewer
½ November 27, 2010
A fantastic pirate movie! I really enjoyed it, it's got adventure, action, excitement, romance, and even technicolor! Fairbanks was an amazing acrobat, and a good choice for a pirate movie. If you like pirate movies, I highly recommend this classic film.
½ August 21, 2010
Alfred Parker‚??s seafaring, swashbuckler ‚??The Black Pirate‚?? makes watching silent movies a genuine pleasure. Although Hollywood had produced a handful of pirate movies before this 1926 release, ‚??The Black Pirate‚?? benefits from scenarist Elton Thomas' gripping screenplay and Douglas Fairbanks' nimble physical presence. Indeed, ‚??The Black Pirate‚?? boasts some of Fairbanks‚?? best stunts, particularly when he slices into a sail with his knife and then lets gravity draw him down the length of the sail as the knife slashes through the canvas. He performs this stunt three times. The Kino DVD provides an insightful documentary about how Parker and Fairbanks staged this stunt. The exuberance with which Fairbanks leaps and lunges, the spectacular briny settings, and the wind-driven sailing ships make this above-average adventure opus an entirely entertaining spectacle despite its conspicuous lack of sound. Anybody who enjoys pirate movies, especially the ‚??Pirates of the Caribbean‚?? movies, won‚??t get sea-sick watching this epic. Mind you, this isn‚??t a fantasy with quasi-human creatures like the Johnny Depp movie.

After the opening credits, the film presents three title cards that provide exposition. The first one states: "A page from THE HISTORY and Lives of the most Bloodthirsty Pirates who ever infested THE SOUTHERN SEAS." The pirates that our hero contends with here live up to the bloodthirsty part of this description. The second placard adds: "Being an account of BUCCANEERS & THE SPANISH MAIN, the Jolly Roger, GOLDEN GALLEONS, bleached skulls, BURIED TREASURE, the Plank, dirks & cutlasses, SCUTTLED SHIPS, Marooning, DESPERATE DEEDS, DESPERATE MEN, and--even on this dark soil--ROMANCE." Finally, the third placard states: "It was the custom of THESE PIRATES to SUBDUE their prey, LOOT the ship, BIND their captives and BLOW THEM UP." Reportedly, Fairbanks and original director Donald Crisp quarreled and Fairbanks replaced him with Parker. Earlier, Crisp had directed the Fairbanks‚?? 1925 ‚??Zorro‚?? sequel ‚??Don Q Son of Zorro.‚?? Nevertheless, Crisp remained aboard as a salty old dog of pirate named MacTavish who helps out our hero on several occasions.

The agile Douglas Fairbanks toplines this lightweight but lavish escapade as the noble son of the Duke of Arnoldo. As "The Black Pirate" unfolds, the sea wolves are looting a ship. They have tied up virtually everybody left alive. Afterward, they run a powder trail from the deck to the powder magazine in bowels of the ship. These pirates are extremely ruthless. Parker shows the ship in a long shot as it explodes and sinks. Michel (Douglas Fairbanks of "The Thief of Bagdad") and his father are the only survivors. Neither Michel nor his father appeared in the earlier scenes. Not only are the details about their survival ommitted, but also you would think the pirates would recognize him when he asked to join them. Meantime, Fairbanks' character doesn't show up until 9 minutes into the action. Michel‚??s father hands him an elaborate ring that Michel later uses to prove his identity. Michel vows to avenge the death of his dad at the hands of dastardly pirates. The Duke's son masquerades as a cutthroat himself and confronts them after they have stashed their treasure in an underwater cave on the island. Before these pirates can stash their treasure, they have to dig up a chest with a key inside it to the locked gate of their secret underwater hiding place. Michel fights his way into their ranks to end their criminal ways. Before he challenges the pirate captain (Anders Randolf) to a duel, Michel fashions a makeshift grave stone from a piece of flotsam and scratches his solemn vow on it to exact revenge on the brigands. The treacherous pirates keep our hero guessing as much as he keeps teaching them one new trick after another until he defeats them. Along the way, he saves a damsel-in-distress, Princess Isobel (Billie Dove of ‚??Yellow Lily‚??) and wins her hand in marriage. Some of our hero‚??s clever tricks involve capturing an entire merchant vessel alone by himself. Initially, the pirates are dubious about his chances for pulling off such a stunt, but he captures the ship. Eventually, our hero vanquishes the villains after facing certain death by having to walk the plank. Meanwhile, Jack Cunningham adapted the story while Fairbanks, writing under the pseudonym of Elton Thomas, wrote the screenplay. The only drawback to the plot is that some of the coincidences are just too good to be true. Principally, the same island where the pirates stash their treasure is the same island our hero washes ashore.

Clocking in at a trim 94-minutes, ‚??The Black Pirate‚?? contains more than enough action for its length, and the characters are interesting not only for who they are but also what they accomplish. Any pirate movie that opens with the pirate captive looting the dead is a keeper. He appropriates the rings from thee dead sailors. Not long after this scene, the pirate captain spots a captive swallowing a ring. The pirate captain summons a mate and pantomimes to him about how he needs to remove the ring from the captive. The mate leaves while the captain watches him. When the mate returns, he hands the chieftain the ring that he eviscerated from the student's gullet. Naturally, the pirate captain gets his comeuppance when the Fairbanks' hero challenges him to a duel and defeats him. Fairbanks doesn't so much kill him as the pirate kills himself when he falls on a sword that Fairbanks had stuck in the ground. The two-tone Technicolor makes the blood soaked forearms of the pirate stand out. No pirate movie, not even the Errol Flynn sound classics, ever topped this until the advent of R-rated movies. Indeed, "The Black Pirate" has everything that a great pirate movie needs. Interestingly, this was Fairbank's last major money maker.
July 31, 2010
This silent film remains a classic for numerous reasons. Fairbanks leaps across the screen with such grace, strength and charm. I can see how he inspired countless young boys all wanting to grow up to be just like him (for me the equivalent would be Indiana Jones.) Also, Pirates of the Caribbean could certainly learn something from the length of this film. It's only 80 minutes but it has everything you need for a blockbuster. It's astonishing how all the ingredients are here for the standard action formula. We're essentially still doing the same thing today. They also don't shy away from some gruesome bits which surprised me for 1926. Speaking of which, this was the very first colored film. Seeing a classic like this on the big screen with an orchestra (Alloy) certainly makes for a thoroughly entertaining matinee.
½ June 13, 2010
Un film majeur √† l'√©poque de sa sortie, o√Ļ il eu un grand succ√®s. On le retient surtout pour √™tre le premier film majeur a avoir √©t√© tourn√© en couleur, enfin en bichromie pour √™tre pr√©cis (bleu et rouge). Il reste aujourd'hui encore une r√©f√©rence en mati√®re de film pirate, avec ses codes depuis maintes fois copi√©s. C'est justement parcequ'il a √©t√© tellement plagi√©, qu'aujourd'hui avec notre regard contemporain, il ne nous semble pas tr√®s original.
June 11, 2010
It's sad to say, but I believe this is the first Douglas Fairbanks film I've seen. The first half was great, especially the awesome segment where Fairbanks takes over an entire ship by himself, I was hoping there would be more scenes like that throughout the whole movie. Instead it was just a pretty entertaining movie that threw in a useless romance story instead of putting in more adventurous moments. Fairbanks is indeed impressive with his agility and "choreography", I'm looking forward to checking out his other films.
½ April 24, 2010
Decent enough piratemovie, although for some reason classical persian and greek ships keep turning up.
March 15, 2010
This must have been a spectacular sight back in the twenties. shot in two colour technicolour this must have cost a fortune but the audiences must have loved this. this is the early twentieth century equivalent of a big budget action blockbuster with a top action movie star of your choice. great sets and fantastic stunts this is seriuosly worth a watch even if silent movies aren't usually your thing. can't believe i've never seen this before!!! highly recommended
½ August 1, 2009
all the better when you have neil brand playing his score.
Super Reviewer
April 11, 2009
As far as pirate classics go them this is cinema treat. It was released in 1926. Shot in black and white and above all a silent movie, its still 1.5 hours in length and all the action and mystery you would expect from a pirate film.
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