The Pirates of Penzance (1983)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Pirates of Penzance Photos

Movie Info

Joseph Papp's notion of staging one of Gilbert and Sullivan's best-loved operettas with two pop singers (Linda Ronstadt and Rex Smith) in the leads paid off as a surprise Broadway smash in the early 1980s, and this film faithfully reproduces Papp's production, featuring most of the original cast and the original director. Frederic (Smith) has been taught since childhood to be a sea-going bandit by the Pirate King (Kevin Kline), but with his 21st birthday imminent, Frederic wants to leave pirating behind, especially after he becomes infatuated with innocent Mabel (Ronstadt). But the Pirate King informs Frederic that since he was born on the last day of February on a Leap Year, his 21st birthday won't roll around for some time yet, and he still owes the King some raiding on the high seas. To Frederic's embarrassment, the Pirate King's next target turns out to be Major General Stanley (George Rose), Mabel's father! The Pirates of Penzance also features Angela Lansbury as Ruth (the sole major casting change from the Broadway production -- Estelle Parsons played the role on stage).
Action & Adventure , Classics , Comedy , Musical & Performing Arts
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Universal Studios

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Kevin Kline
as The Pirate King
Rex Smith
as Frederic
George Rose
as Major-General
Tony Azito
as Sergeant
David Hatton
as Samuel
Romolo Bruni
as Captain
Louise Gold
as Edith
Peppi Borza
as Policeman
Mike Grady
as Pirate
Maurice Lane
as Policeman
Preston Lockwood
as Conductor
Clare McIntyre
as Daughter
Tilly Vosburgh
as Daughter
Nancy Wood
as Other Daughter
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for The Pirates of Penzance

All Critics (15) | Top Critics (2)

Gilbert & Sullivan's durable The Pirates of Penzance has been turned into an elaborate screen musical by basically the same hands responsible for Joseph Papp's smash New York Shakespeare Festival and Broadway stage production, and result is a delight.

Full Review… | February 22, 2012
Top Critic

There are too many attempts to single out particular performers when ensemble acting ought to prevail. That doesn't mean the leading players aren't appealing and accomplished, because they are.

August 30, 2004
New York Times
Top Critic

The cast is charming, the sets intentionally stagy, and the musical performances fine.

Full Review… | October 24, 2013
TV Guide

Grand operatic fun with dashing Kline and wonderful supporting cast.

October 14, 2005

Leach seems utterly mired in the staginess of it all -- a problem exacerbated by his insistence on presenting the film with patently unreal stage settings.

Full Review… | March 24, 2005
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Well made musical. Proof that Kline can do ANYTHING!

November 11, 2004
Nolan's Pop Culture Review

Audience Reviews for The Pirates of Penzance

Stagy but exuberant. The cast members give it their all.

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

I was in the chorus of the Pirates of Penzance in high school, so I always wanted to see this to see if it stirred any memories. I hope our school version 45 years ago was better than this movie as I thought it was terrible. Hard to follow the words. Rather silly story. Unless you are a fan of operettas, skip this movie.

Red Lats
Red Lats

Super Reviewer

I love this movie. Ever since seeing it when it came out in 1983 it has been a favorite of mine. If you love musicals you will enjoy it. Linda Ronstadt, Rex Smith, Angela Lansbury, & Kevin Kline are a great cast in this film. Linda Ronstadt and Rex Smith are at there peak. Check this gem out...though it is hard to find on tv.

Mason Williams
Mason Williams

Super Reviewer

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