Against All Flags (1952) | Movie Review

I can’t believe #SwashbucklerMonth is already drawing to a close! I still have so many post ideas and I haven’t done half of what I wanted to do. But, after all, a month is a month, and I only committed to that much. Plus I have all these other posts building up that aren’t swashbuckler related. *Sigh* I can’t be swashbuckler all the time.

But it is not over yet. This next post is about the third best swashbuckler ever, Against All Flags.

When I was younger, Errol Flynn was the man. He was my heartthrob, and every time my friends and I would get together we would gab about the last Errol Flynn movie we saw and how he was so awesome.

These days I am not so dramatic. Since then I have learned that he was more like his character in The Adventures of Don Juan than he was as Geoffrey Thorpe in The Sea Hawk. But he was still an incredible adventure actor. And some of the movies he played are the best yet.

Also in this feature is my favorite actress, Maureen O’Hara. It seems I have picked all swashbucklers with her as the heroine to review. And it is no wonder. Whether she is simply the brown-haired love interest of pirate Jamie, the fiesty Spanish Condesa, or the pirate captain Spitfire Stevens, she plays the roles better than any actress I could imagine. I will have to review some of her non-seafaring adventures as well, such as At Sword’s Point and Bagdad.

For now, here is my synopsis on the movie, Against All Flags.

A pirate fortress on the coast of Madagascar has been the scourge of any ship not engaging in piracy for too long because of their hidden defense fortifications. British naval officer Brian Hawke plans to go undercover and join the pirates as a deserter in an effort to find out the exact location of the guns and sabotage them before the arrival of a British man-o-war.

Hawke arrives with two other companions and is taken to Captain Roc Brasiliano. The pirate captain accuses them of being spies but says they will be tried before the captains of the coast before a decision is made. Hawke is surprised to see a female pirate captain by the name of Spitfire Stevens but he immediately lays on the charm. Spitfire is amused while Captain Roc, who considers her his woman, is infuriated. During the meeting of the captains of the coast they agree that there is no proof one way or the other of telling if the men are spies, so Hawke is given a position in Captain Roc’s next venture where he can keep an eye on him.

Spitfire has already made up her mind to like Hawke, though trust being a different story. Upon hearing that she has the actual plans of the fortifications in her rooms, Hawke manages to worm his way into a meeting with her. He succeeds but also learns that though she may be attracted to him she is not one to be trifled with.

During the venture, Captain Roc attacks the ship of the grand moghul of India, despite Hawke’s warning of the political dangers. While Roc burns the ship after divesting her of her spoils, Hawke manages to save a young woman whom he soon learns is the daughter of the moghul himself. Knowing what Roc would do if he found out, Hawke keeps it to himself.

Realizing the position he is in with his previous mission and now the objective to save the princess, he bids for her at the auction block but loses her to a bitter Spitfire who will do anything to keep her out of his hands.

Hawke then meets secretly with the princess’s chaperone, the Scottish woman Molvina MacGregor, and convinces her to trust him in a new plot to get the princess to safety. Later, he and his men discover the guns and sabotage them. But on their way back to get the princess and MacGregor they are caught by Roc and Spitfire. At first the pirates are enraged at his underhandedness, but when they learn that the Indian girl is the princess, they begin to suspect Hawke of more. It is not long before they find the plans of the fortifications on them and realize they are indeed spies. Despite her declarations of love and trust only hours before, Spitfire feels betrayed and agrees with Roc that the men should die at the tide stakes in the morning.

Bound to the tide stakes where the crabs will rip the flesh from their bones for a slow and painful death, Hawke and his men appear to have reached their end. But Spitfire, in spite of her wounded pride at being betrayed, can’t stand to see the man she loves suffer. She takes a knife and pretends to kill Hawke, though secretly freeing him.

Suddenly the alarm that the island is under attack rings out and Roc gives the command to get to the guns. When the man-o-war is within their sites, the guns fire but explode. Roc decides to make a break for it, taking the princess with him for protection. Spitfire, tired and with the only hope for a better life destroyed, agrees to go with him and marry him.


As they endeavor to get past the British warship, using the Indian princess as a shield, Hawke and his men slip aboard. The sword battle is fierce but they are victorious and soon the pirates are subdued. The British commander offers Hawke anything he wants in reward for such a splendid job and Hawke requests Spitfires involvement be forgotten. The Commander is amused but agrees. Spitfire has obviously forgiven him and now has the promise of a better life.

It is disputed as to whether or not the pirate colony of Libertatia was historical or fictional. Due to the book A General History of the Pyrates by Captain Charles Johnson published in 1724, there has been much discussion of its existence, and much has been made legendary because of it. The leader and founder of the colony was said to be Captain Henry Avery, the man responsible for the start of the golden age of piracy, though he is not featured in this movie.

The fact that the writers of this film used possible historical locations and stories is all the more intriguing to me. I am a history fan at heart.

So what do you think? Will you be watching this one soon? How do you like my review? Most importantly, how have you enjoyed #SwashbucklerMonth so far? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

My next (and last Swashbuckler post) will be coming soon. But keep a lookout, I have a few scrapbook posts coming up!

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