Legendary Caribbean pirate, Henry Morgan (Laird Cregar, Hangover Square), is appointed governor of Jamaica. Morgan asks fellow buccaneer, Captain Jamie Waring (Tyrone Power, The Mark of Zorro), to help him bring order to the region. However, another pirate, Captain Billy Leech (George Sanders, All About Eve), intends to undermine Morgan’s peace efforts.
Reaction & Thoughts:
Rousing adventure tale from a novel by Rafael Sabatini, the man behind such stalwarts of the swash and buckle genre like The Sea Hawk and Captain Blood (both books were filmed by Hollywood during its heydays).
The Black Swan, directed by Henry King (Twelve O’Clock High) from a screenplay by Ben Hecht (Notorious) and Seton I. Miller (The Adventures of Robin Hood), was produced by 20th Century Fox, under the leadership of Darryl F. Zanuck, and the studio didn’t spare any expenses. This lavish old pirate movie gets lots of things right, but falls a bit short in some areas, specifically plot development. But the film’s strong production values conceal some of its imperfections.
The narrative, which mixes real historical figures with fictional characters, isn’t all that interesting. The main character is not likable either and the patently obvious misogyny — Maureen O’Hara (The Quiet Man), who plays Power’s love interest, is abused throughout the film — that runs through the story is a bit jarring at times.
Leon Shamroy’s beautiful, Oscar-winning three-strip Technicolor photography is the ‘reason de entre’ to watch the film. It is as if you are watching some undiscovered Goya paintings. The sets, costumes, and special visual effects in The Black Swan are also fantastic. Alfred Newman’s music score is pretty awesome too.
Although Power lacks Errol Flynn’s irresistible cockiness, he is a plucky, dashing hero. Power has a memorable sword-fight with Sanders (ironically, sixteen years later, during the shooting of Solomon and Sheba, Power died of a heart attack while completing a duel sequence with Sanders).
Anyhow, Cregar offers strong support as the charismatic Morgan, another great actor who died too soon. O’Hara is just eye-candy. The wonderful cast includes Thomas Mitchell (Stagecoach) as Tommy Blue, George Zucco (Joan of Arc) as Lord Denby, and a very young Anthony Quinn (Zorba The Greek) as Wogan.
Conclusions & Final Thoughts:
The Black Swan is not the best of its kind, but it is stylish and exciting, and the energetic cast makes this action movie fun to watch. Color, 85 minutes, Not Rated.