Arrr-thentic Pirate Movies
The fourth installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise opens this week, and Johnny Depp returns as the charismatic Captain Jack Sparrow. But pirates have been swashbuckling, drinking rum and walking the plank for centuries. And the beloved pirate movie has been a Hollywood staple for much of Tinseltown’s history. Here are some of the most arrr-thentic pirate movies ever.
Captain Blood (1935)
Captain Blood is the quintessential swashbuckler flick, starring Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland and Basil Rathbone and directed by Michael Curtiz. This was the first of eight movies pairing Flynn and the lovely Miss de Havilland. They were reunited three years later with Rathbone (again the evil villain) in The Adventures of Robin Hood.
In Captain Blood, Flynn is Dr. Peter Blood, a 17th Century Irish doctor convicted of treason against the King of England and sold into slavery. Purchased by de Havilland, he eventually escapes and makes a new life for himself as a pirate. (If we had a wooden nickle for every time that happened to one of us…) The treacherous Rathbone is killed in a spectacular duel, and Flynn gets an opportunity for redemption and the woman he loves.
The Sea Hawk (1940)
The Sea Hawk also stars Errol Flynn, and is directed by Michael Curtiz, the captains of the pirate movie. Why break up a winning combination? This time the stunning Brenda Marshall is the love interest, and Henry Daniell is the bad guy. And this time it’s England vs. Spain.
Flynn plays a privateer who captures Marshall and her father, played by Claude Rains. There is plenty of semi-factual Elizabethan info in the movie, but it never seems like a history lesson. The Armada, the Spanish Inquisition, the New World—all give The Sea Hawk the romance of a bygone era, with treachery and double-crossing a plenty. And hey—it’s Errol Flynn!
Treasure Island (1950)
Walt Disney’s classic pirate movie is a wonderful adventure tale, adapted from Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel of the same name. Bobby Driscoll stars as young Jim Hawkins, and Robert Newton as Long John Silver, before he got into the fried fish business. It’s a Disney picture so don’t expect any cursing or nudity in this search for buried treasure. But perfect for all ages isn’t code for boring. Excitement awaits.
Hook is Steven Spielberg’s 1991 sequel to Peter Pan, with the title character now a grown-up, and a well-to-do lawyer. When Captain Hook kidnaps his two children, he must return to Neverland to rescue them. A spectacular cast includes Robin Williams as Peter, Dustin Hoffman as Hook, Maggie Smith as Wendy and Julia Roberts as Tinkerbell. This is a wonderful continuation of the Peter Pan saga, updated for a new era, but with all the old values and lessons intact. And Robin Williams is always entertaining, even without the cocaine habit.
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
The Pirates of the Caribbean movies put pirates back on the treasure map. And the one that started the franchise is the best of the crew. Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley star in this tale of a plucky blacksmith who seeks the help of a pirate to rescue his girlfriend from the clutches of the feared Captain Barbossa. Depp channels Keith Richards to become the ethical, yet enjoyable, Captain Jack Sparrow. And it’s a Jerry Bruckheimer production, so we know lots of stuff blows up. Watching the first and best of the series will properly prepare you for the latest, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.
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