I have said before that my favorite swashbuckler of all time is The Spanish Main (read my review here). It is really hard to name my favorites actually since there are so many great ones. Captain Blood and The Sea Hawk, both starring the famous Errol Flynn are definitely a couple of the best. I have chosen others to write about this month but maybe some day I will get the chance to review those two.
But today I am reviewing my second favorite film, The Black Swan. Starring Tyrone Power as the rather ruthless pirate, Maureen O'Hara as the fiery aristocratic damsel, and George Sanders as the evil pirate captain.
I believe I heard Robert Osbourne say that the directors planned to give Power a beard in this movie but opted for a trimmed moustache to keep from covering Power's good looks. Instead Sanders got the beard, and a very unruly, red beard, at that. Anthony Quinn stars as his sidekick with a patch over his eye.
Here is my synopsis.
The Black Swan
When the handsome pirate captain Jamie Waring gets captured during an attack on a small Spanish town, he is turned on the rack and questioned about the whereabouts of Captain Henry Morgan. Just in time his friend Tommy Blue arrives and saves him from certain death. Jamie learns that Captain Morgan has been freed and pardoned by the king in the expectations that he will free the seas of the rampant piracy. With Jamie and Tommy in tow, Morgan takes over governorship at Port Royal, to the dismay of the aristocrats.
Jamie wastes no time in attempting to woo the former governor's daughter Margaret Denby, who finds him barbaric and instead prefers the foppish charm of Roger Ingram. Morgan continues to struggle against the prejudices of his court as they accuse him of piracy under the protection of the law. In return, Morgan promises the immediate removal of pirates Leech and Wogan, some of his former friends. He sends Jamie and Tommy to Tortuga where the pirates are certain to be. But when Jamie and Tommy arrive it is clear that someone came ahead of time and warned them off.
British ships continue to be attacked by Leech and Wogan and it becomes obvious that Morgan is losing his control of the aristocrats. He sends Jamie and Tommy out once more to try again. Unknown to them, Ingram, a hardy instigator of animosity towards Morgan, has been the one providing the information to the pirates for a share of the profit.
Before leaving, Jamie impulsively abducts Margaret to keep her from marrying Ingram before he returns. He sets out to find Leech but all too soon, Leech finds him. With Tommy Blue too far away to help, Jamie and his men are in the clutches of the pirates. To save their lives, Jamie tells Leech that he has left Morgan to join them and that Denby's daughter is his new wife. Leech heartily swallows the tale but requires Jamie and his "new wife" to complete the journey aboard his ship, the Black Swan.
That night, drunken Leech stumbles into the cabin where Jamie and Margaret are staying to offer a gift, but despite his swimming brain, he spies a rolled up hammock in the corner of the room and begins to get suspicious of Jamie's story.
When morning arrives, Jamie tells Margaret that Captain Morgan will be waiting at their destination to blow Leech out of the water. But Leech guesses Jamie's game and ties him up. He takes Margaret onto Jamie's ship and begins blasting the town with volleys.
The ending (don't read if you haven't seen this movie)
Meanwhile, Jamie struggles to free himself. He finally gets free and swims to his own ship where he battles Leech to the death. When Morgan arrives he finds Leech dead, Margaret tied up, and Jamie unconscious. To his surprise, Margaret promises to insist that she came with Jamie of her own free will and tends to his wounds. On the way home, Margaret admits that she loves Jamie.
FurthermoreThis is Maureen O'Hara's beginning role as the swashbuckling queen. She went on to dazzle the audience in other adventure films like The Spanish Main, Against All Flags, and At Swords' Point. Because this was an early film for her I believe that filmmakers didn't yet recognize the flamboyant presence she could give to a role and thus her character was a bit dampened. She played a spoiled nobleman's daughter with a prejudice against any below her. But don't get me wrong, she put a lot of spunk into the role and played the part better than anyone else I could imagine.
Tyrone Power, with his roguish charm, played the role of a pirate quite well. Margaret Denby may be prejudiced toward the lower class, but in all truth, she was right about lawless Jamie Waring. But as black as a pirate he may be, there are blacker pirates and we are all happy that the inevitable romance blooms accordingly.
As I said in my previous post, the costume Power wears as Jamie is often very Spanish compared to the others. His black and red costume is in the simple style of the middle class but gives him a bold and daring look.
I hope to discuss Maureen O'Hara's costume on a later date as I compare it to those of her other films. But on a quick note, the colors they put her in are so much more lovely than those from The Spanish Main. And did you notice her hair is brown instead of red?!
And that does it, ladies and gentlemen. What do you think? Have you watched this swashbuckler before? Do you like it? Leave me a comment in the section below!
Question: how would you, my readers, like a roundup of popular DIY swashbuckler projects?