The Pirate. 1948. USA. Directed by Vincente Minnelli. 102 min.
Screenplay by Albert Hackett, Frances Goodrich, based on the play by S.N. Behrman. Songs by Cole Porter. With Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, Walter Slezak. A flamboyant riff on the swashbuckler adventure, Minnelli’s comic musical is an extravagantly costumed period piece featuring a wonderful Cole Porter score. Gene Kelly exudes a rakish charm as the travelling showman Serafin, masquerading as a notorious pirate to woo the chaste but restless Caribbean girl Manuela (Garland). Hailed by the filmmaker Lindsay Anderson as a “daring experiment in artifice,” The Pirate is a marvel of screwball antics, sensuous choreography, knowing camp, and stylized Technicolor surfaces. Describing Kelly’s erotic ballet sequence, “Mack the Knife,” Stephen Harvey writes, “With a Douglas Fairbanks rope trick, Serafin-as-Macoco plummets down to earth from the mast of his ship; as the blood-and-charcoal backdrop lights up with rhythmic blasts of flame, he careens about his ravaged domain, wielding a large pole to daunt burly rivals and feminine conquests alike." 35mm print from George Eastman House; courtesy Warner Bros.