The Black Pirate

1926 pirate movie

Rating: 15/20

Plot: To avenge the death of his father, that guy on the poster up there infiltrates a pack of pirates and makes plans to bring them down.

I had titled this one "Silent Saturday: The Black Pirate," but I couldn't leave it. If this blog isn't informative, entertaining, or comprehensive, it can at least be honest. And I didn't watch this movie on a Saturday. I watched this movie on Douglas Fairbanks' birthday, a mini-tribute. So happy birthday, Douglas Fairbanks!

Ok, I just did a little research in order to make this blog at least more comprehensive and informative and figured out that Douglas Fairbanks died about 80 years ago and would be around 134 years old now. So he's not reading this blog entry.

Douglas Fairbanks is hit and miss for me. He's got this infectious enthusiasm, smiling his way through all of these feats of strength and athleticism, so even if the audience isn't having any fun watching his movies, it's nice to know that he at least had a lot of fun. His athletic prowess is impressive although his stunts never really look all that dangerous. Everything's a little too effortless with the guy, probably because he can't wipe that ridiculous grin off his mouth. His movements do make him stand out though, even when he's in a crowd of a hundred or so pirates. I mean, the guy doesn't even go down stairs like normal men. He's fun to watch--just the silent movie hero you'd ask for to bounce around a pirate ship.

This is a silent film from the mid-20s, but it's a little different than most you've seen in that it uses color. It's a limited color palette, but it's still much different than anything I can recall seeing. There's an artificiality to the colors, all muted and sickly, but I really liked it. Combine that with the gnarly assortment of pirates complete with missing limbs and cool-looking pirate ships, and you've got quite the spectacle here. The story's nothing to swing a cutlass at, but the movie pirates have an authentic look that makes it all fun to watch. There are also a couple scenes of violence--one featuring a finger and a ring that takes place off-screen--that give this a bit of a grimy edge.

My favorite moment: Fairbanks, during the climactic battle scene, is engaged in sword-fighting with about seven guys. He's shielding himself with an unconscious guy. One guy, whom I never saw actually get injured, dies, and it's such a distracting death scene. He's just kind of in the middle, falling down in slow motion with this goofy expression on his face. That's an extra who knew how to get himself noticed!

Here he is, so that you can know how much I'm exaggerating:

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