USA, Vincente Minnelli (1948)
Of the classic Hollywood musicals, The Pirate doesn’t make it anywhere near my top ten. It hasn’t exactly aged well with it’s ridiculous plot and forgettable score, of which you’ll only recognize the song “Be A Clown.” (For a much better version of this song, rewritten as “Make ‘Em Laugh,” check out Singin’ In the Rain, where Donald O’Conner stops the show.)
Back to The Pirate. Judy Garland is Manuela, a young Caribbean woman (shyeah, right) dreaming of an exciting life carried off in the arms of Macoco, a notorious pirate. Gene Kelly is Sarafin, an actor in a traveling carnival who impersonates the pirate to woo Manuela, and nearly ends up paying dearly for his charade when he’s captured. Gene Kelly dips heavily into the cheese for his performance in this film. Things move along quickly though, the dance numbers are clever (the Nicholas brothers are featured in one number,) and Judy’s performance manages to hold it all together. The scene where Manuela discovers Sarafin’s a fake is great fun; she throws every dish, vase, and knick-knack in the room at him, while Kelly ducks in and out as shards of pottery and china smash and crash all around him.
Here’s the Gist: This is your grandmother’s Pirates of the Caribbean. [**]