Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2018) on… The Pirate (1948)

Time for another request! This time, it’s the second Judy Garland/ Gene Kelly movie, The Pirate, also starring Walter Slezak.

Coming Up Shorts! with… You Can’t Win (1948)

(available as an extra on The Pirate Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 7 minutes, 53 seconds)

On his day off, some guy just keeps struggling with everything he does going wrong. This one was quite funny, with mishaps coming from a persistent salesman, a cigarette lighter, starched shirts, cleaning a car and hanging a hammock. For the most part, I haven’t cared for the Pete Smith specialties, but this one was quite fun! The mishaps are relatable, and yet hilarious (in that old “I don’t mind laughing at the misfortunes of others, but probably would be mad if that happened to me”-type of humor)! Fun enough that I wouldn’t mind revisiting this one!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Cat Fishin’ (1947)

(available as an extra on The Pirate Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 7 minutes, 43 seconds)

Tom the cat tries to fish (using Jerry the mouse as bait) on an off-limits fishing hole guarded by Spike the dog. One fish in particular keeps giving Jerry trouble, but he manages to divert him away time and time again! And, while he’s not the main trouble for the middle of the short, Spike’s presence as he chases after Tom is always welcome! Certainly a lot of fun seeing this Tom and Jerry cartoon, and it’s one that I hope to come back to here and there for a few good laughs!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Judy plays Manuela, a girl living in the town of Calvados. She dreams of being carried off by the pirate Macoco, but she becomes engaged to the rich mayor of the town. Wanting to see the sea before she is married, she goes with her aunt to Port Sebastian to get her wedding dress. While there, she encounters a traveling troupe of actors, led by Serafin (Gene Kelly). He falls for her immediately, but she is repulsed by him. At their show, Serafin hypnotizes Manuela, and learns of her love for Macoco. Upon being kissed, she awakes from her trance, and runs back to her aunt, with plans to go immediately back to Calvados. The acting troupe arrives right before the wedding, with Serafin now claiming to be Macoco. He threatens to destroy the town if Manuela isn’t brought to him. While she comes to him, the mayor gets away to bring the militia, doing so successfully.

One thing I should say right off is not to be fooled by the title. Anybody expecting a grand pirate adventure will be disappointed. There are no ship battles, sword fights, etc. Everything pretty much happens on land. The closest you get is Gene Kelly’s pirate ballet, which is a dream sequence for when Judy’s character imagines Serafin as Macoco in action. In spite of that, it is still a wonderful dance, giving Gene a chance to show off his athletic abilities.

There is a lot of fun to this movie, where its music is concerned. Admittedly, most of it is somewhat forgettable (but it certainly is fun to see Gene and Judy giving it their all, just the same). The main song that is memorable is “Be A Clown,” which is used twice. For the first version, Gene dances with the Nicholas brothers, which was the first time they had danced onscreen with a Caucasian (and Gene insisted on them doing the routine with them). It was a wonderful dance, although the Nicholas brothers were punished by the dance being cut in some parts of the country, and they were blackballed from the movies after that. The song was reprised to end the movie, with Judy joining Gene, and both of them in clown getup, to comical effect. What should be mentioned here, too, is that the music was “borrowed” by Arthur Freed and given new lyrics to become the song “Make ‘Em Laugh” in Singin’ in the Rain (although apparently Cole Porter didn’t complain).

I do recommend this movie if you get the chance to see it! The movie is available on DVD from Warner Home Video.

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… The Pirate (1948)

On November 24, 2020, The Pirate was released on Blu-ray by Warner Archive Collection. This Blu-ray makes use of a new restoration from a 4K scan of the original nitrate Technicolor negatives. I’ve been watching (and enjoying) this movie since the early 2000s, both on TV and on DVD. Both those sources apparently have been using a transfer done by an overseas lab that was, in the minds of many, very poorly done. It never bothered me that much, but, again, it’s what I knew. This new Blu-ray COMPLETELY blows that old transfer out of the water! The colors are just so vibrant now, it’s like an entirely different movie now! And the detail! Oh, this much detail is just fantastic to see, it’s so nice and crisp! When the Blu-ray of Summer Stock was released, that transfer was so much better that I bumped up my score of that movie (which at the time, I would have said was my favorite of the three Judy Garland/Gene Kelly pairings). For The Pirate, I would also have to bump up that score (and even to put it at 10/10 doesn’t seem to do it justice!), with it now feeling like my favorite of the three! So, seriously, if you’ve been watching it either on TV or on DVD, forget about them, and see the new Blu-ray! You’ll wonder how you could ever go back to the old transfer!

Film Length: 1 hour, 42 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

My Rating (after Blu-ray): 10/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

The Harvey Girls (1946) – Judy Garland – Easter Parade (1948)

Ziegfeld Follies (1945)Gene KellyTake Me Out To The Ball Game (1949)

A Christmas Carol (1938) – Reginald Owen

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