The Crimson Pirate (1952)

Article #1427 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 2-9-2005
Posting Date: 7-9-2005
Directed by Robert Siodmak
Featuring Burt Lancaster, Nick Cravat, Eva Bartok

A pirate hatches a scheme to make a fortune by selling guns to rebels, and then turning in the rebels for a reward. His scheme backfires when he falls in love with the daughter of the rebel leader.

At the top of this swashbuckling pirate epic, Burt Lancaster tells the viewer to ‘believe only what you see’. Then, after an impossible stunt (courtesy of running some footage backwards), he amends this to ‘believe only half of what you see’. This is the movie’s witty way of telling you not to take it too seriously, but they needn’t have worried; the movie does a fine job of putting you in the right frame of mind even without the reminder. In short, this is a hilarious and fun romp, chock full of stunts, many of them courtesy of Burt Lancaster and his partner from his circus days, Nick Cravat (who plays his part like an athletic Harpo Marx). Watching these two work together is a real joy, as they share a real chemistry with each other. The fantastic content doesn’t really manifest itself until the end of the movie, when certain science fiction elements come to the fore, but it’s best to leave these as surprises. In a sense, this movie reminds me a little of the TV show, “The Wild Wild West”, in which an athletic star is placed in a period setting with occasional primitive-looking science fiction devices. The movie also features Torin Thatcher (THE 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD), and Christopher Lee.

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