DIRECTOR: Albert Parker
Two Tone Technicolor in all its glory! This is it. The first widely distributed Technicolor movie back before we even had sound. This was hardly the first foray into colour, in fact colour almost goes as far back as film itself, as does sound, but it was not until the mid-1920’s that breakthroughs in both mediums would bring them into mainstream.
Sound would take first, with Technicolor taking just a little longer, mainly due to the technical issues of using it both in front and behind the camera. But as time went on, these issues were gradually dealt with with the rest is cinema history.
So, having gotten the technical bit out of the way, on to the Douglas Fairbanks Jr. blockbuster. And that is precisely want this was. A by-the-numbers acrobatic action movie by the undisputed star of the day, Fairbanks.
The plot follows a Duke (Fairbanks) whose ship is attacked and destroyed by a Pirates. He is the soul survivor and vows revenge. He soon finds himself in the company of the very pirates he is looking for and infiltrates their crew by being the best god-damn pirate there ever was!
He meets a princess (Billie Dove) and saves the day, gets the girl and the evil pirates are dispatched. All, amidst lots of colourful blood, to emphasise the Technicolor I suppose and slides down a few sails with his dagger along the way.
The performances are typical for a Hollywoodland movie of the day, but besides the outstanding physicality of Douglas, I would not say that there was anything particularly noteworthy about the acting, let alone the production on the whole. Having said that, the tone and cliche’s which this film has brought to the genre as whole are legendary and there is that foray into colour of course.
This were it all began folks…
Unfortunately my copy was just the cheap R-0 version, whcih was clearly (ironically) taken from a old VHS recording. The colour is vivid but wrong. Greens have replaced blacks and the overall print quality was poor but watchable. I have seen bit s of the KINO HD Blu-ray edition and this looks great.
It also has the original score by Mortimer Wilson, something whcih this bargain basement DVD does not. The music supplied is okay; a mix of classical pieces on a loop but none this is cued and rarely suits the scenes let alone the action on screen. Further proof that there never was such a thing as silent cinema, just no synchronised sound.
For the real experience, get the Blu-ray, though it is very expensive at the moment, but if you just want to see what all the fuss is about, this DVD is quite watchable, at least as an entry version.
Me, I’m after the upgrade!