The Crimson Pirate (1952) – Robert Siodmak


The recommendations for Adventures of Robin Hood from the Great Movies – 100 Years of Film book brings me yet another high adventure with some pirates. This time around Burt Lancaster is center stage as the very colorfully dressed Captain Vallo.

As the Crimson Pirate, Vallo seems to only be interested in intrigue, acrobatics, swordplay, escapes and high adventure. He and his crew are all about the carousing, pillaging, and having a good time, in this light-hearted adventure that Lancaster plays to the hilt!

When he and his mates grab a royal ship that is carrying arms, he comes across the idea of selling the guns to rebels in the Caribbean for a healthy chunk of change, and then turn around and sell the information about who they sold the guns to for an even larger amount of money.

Of course, those things don’t always go as planned, and Vallo, with the hilarious, and mute Ojo (Nick Cravat) at his side, soon finds himself in a rollicking adventure that sees at least one gag that was later recycled in Pirates of the Caribbean, and a bit of romance with the lovely Consuelo (Eva Bartok).

There is party-crashing, a prison break of a sort, stolen kisses, one merry chase after another, a bit of cross-dressing, and lots of swinging about on ropes, it truly is a pirate’s life!


As he finds himself on the side of the right with a strange scientist, Prudence (James Hayter), joining his ranks, not every one on his crew agrees, particularly, Mr. Bellows (Torin Thatcher), but he quickly learns that it’s not as easy as Vallo makes it look.

So, as Vallo rallies the people, fights an evil tyranny, and falls in love with the girl, the viewer can do little more than buckle up for the ride, and life at the light tone the film tends to convey everything in. But the entire cast seems to be having such a good time, that it really hard to be charmed by this one.

The colors are bright and vibrant, that Technicolor is put to great use, as it seems everything is brilliant coloured in this film, and Lancaster looks like he is doing a large percentage of his own stunts in this one.

This is another of those films that I’d heard of and thought I knew the general gist of, but was so delighted to settle into this one, and be pleasantly surprised with how much I ended up truly enjoying this one.

The chase sequences through the town are especially entertaining, and the fact that it seems that the film isn’t really too intent on taking anything too seriously makes this one perfectly suited to a rainy day viewing. And Ojo seems to steal almost every scene he’s in, and makes a wonderful sidekick to Lancaster’s boisterous Vallo.

Set sail for this one!



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