Original film poster
|Directed by||Vincente Minnelli|
|Produced by||Arthur Freed|
|Screenplay by||Frances Goodrich
|Based on||The Pirate
by S. N. Behrman
|Music by||Lennie Hayton (score)
Cole Porter (songs)
|Cinematography||Harry Stradling Sr.|
|Edited by||Blanche Sewell|
The Pirate is a 1948 American Technicolor musical feature film from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. With songs by Cole Porter, it stars Judy Garland and Gene Kelly with co-stars Walter Slezak, Gladys Cooper, Reginald Owen, and George Zucco.
Manuela Alva (Judy Garland), who lives in the small Caribbean village of Calvados, dreams of being swept away by the legendary Pirate, Mack "the Black" Macoco. However, her aunt and uncle (who have raised her) insist that she marry the town mayor, the rotund and bullying Don Pedro (Walter Slezak).
Shortly before her wedding, Manuela visits a nearby town, Port Sebastian. A traveling circus has arrived, and Serafin (Gene Kelly), its handsome leader, flirts with all the girls in the song "Nina." When he encounters Manuela, however, he falls in love at first sight with her. Serafin compliments Manuela's beauty and begs her not to marry Don Pedro, but, angered, she hurries away. That night, however, Manuela cannot sleep, and she sneaks out to go see Serafin's show.
At the show, Serafin hypnotizes Manuela, thinking that she will admit she loves him. Instead, the hypnotized girl wildly sings and dances about her love for "Mack the Black." Serafin awakens Manuela with a kiss, and she flees in horror.
On Manuela's wedding day, the traveling players arrive in Calvados. Serafin begs Manuela to join his troupe, and asks her to admit that she loves him. Don Pedro, hearing noise in Manuela's room, arrives at her door, and asks Manuela to go away so that he can teach Serafin a lesson.
Serafin recognizes Don Pedro as Macoco, retired and obese. He blackmails Pedro with this information, swearing to tell it to Manuela if Don Pedro forbids the performers from putting on a show. Serafin then decides to pretend to be Macoco in order to win over Manuela. He reveals himself before the whole town as Macoco, then asks Manuela if she will come with him; she again refuses. Still, watching from her window as "Macoco" dances, she begins to daydream about the pirate. The next day, "Macoco" threatens to burn down the town if he cannot have Manuela. Finally, she happily agrees to go with him.
One of Serafin's troupe accidentally reveals Serafin's plan to Manuela. To get her revenge, she first pretends to seduce Serafin, then attacks him with words and hurtling objects. She accidentally knocks him out, then realizes that she loves him, and sings "You Can Do No Wrong."
Meanwhile, Don Pedro convinces the viceroy that Serafin is the real Macoco and should hang for it. He plants treasure in Serafin's prop trunk to make him look like a pirate. The army arrests Serafin, and Manuela's protests cannot free him. On the night of Serafin's hanging, Manuela finally gets to look at the false evidence, and recognizes a bracelet with the same design as the wedding ring that Pedro gave her, and realizes that Pedro is the pirate.
Serafin asks to do one last show before he is hanged, and sings and dances "Be a Clown" with two fellow troupe members (the Nicholas Brothers). As a finale, Serafin plans to hypnotize Don Pedro into admitting he is Macoco, but Manuela's aunt breaks the mirror that Serafin uses to hypnotize people. Panicked, Manuela pretends to be hypnotized and sings "Love of My Life," vowing everlasting devotion to Macoco. Don Pedro, jealous, reveals himself as the true Macoco and seizes Manuela. Serafin's troupe attacks Don Pedro with custard pies and juggling balls, and the lovers embrace. Manuela joins Serafin's act and the film ends with the two of them singing a reprise of "Be a Clown."
- Judy Garland as Manuela
- Gene Kelly as Serafin
- Walter Slezak as Don Pedro Vargas
- Gladys Cooper as Aunt Inez
- Reginald Owen as The Advocate
- George Zucco as The Viceroy
- The Nicholas Brothers as Specialty Dance
- Lester Allen as Uncle Capucho
- Lola Deem as Isabella
- Ellen Ross as Mercedes
- Mary Jo Ellis as Lizarda
- Jean Dean as Casilda
- Marion Murray as Eloise
- Ben Lessy as Gumbo
- Jerry Bergen as Bolo
Vincente Minnelli directed, from a screenplay by Frances Goodrich from the 1942 play by S. N. Behrman, which had starred Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne. The script had gone through several rewrites. There was originally intended to be a character for Lena Horne, who would play Manuela's dressmaker and sing the song 'Love of My Life,' but her character was eventually dropped. The score, by Lennie Hayton, featured the song "Be a Clown" by Cole Porter. This dance sequence was omitted when shown in some cities in the South, such as Memphis, because it featured black performers The Nicholas Brothers, Fayard and Harold, dancing with Kelly. (It was the first time they had danced onscreen with a Caucasian, and while it was Kelly's insistence that they perform with him, they were the ones who were punished. Essentially blackballed, they moved to Europe and did not return until the mid-60s.)
Several songs were cut, changing the lineup of the score. The song 'Mack the Black' was intended to be the opening number. For the hypnosis scene, Garland and Kelly would do a different dance to a song titled 'Voodoo.' The sequence was filmed, but MGM executives felt the number's choreography was too openly sexual for audiences to accept. When MGM head Louis B. Mayer saw the number he was so outraged he ordered the negatives to be burned. No known footage of the number is known to exist today. So 'Mack the Black' was used for the scene instead.
The production of the movie was frequently tense: Garland's struggles with ongoing prescription drug addiction led to several angry confrontations with husband/director Minnelli, presaging their divorce a few years later. The production lasted for over four months, with Garland off set for 99 of the 135 shooting days.
Audiences failed to respond to the film's high-brow ambitions, and while many critics hailed the movie's sophistication, box office results failed to follow suit, although the late British author David Shipman, writing in his book The Great Movie Stars: The Golden Years, did describe The Pirate as being overall "a neat moneymaker, but otherwise probably the least successful of Garland's M-G-M films."
According to MGM accounts, the film earned $1,874,000 in the US and Canada and $782,000 elsewhere, resulting in a loss to the studio of $2,290,000.
Soundtrack for extended CD version
- "Main Title (Mack the Black)"
- "Mack the Black"
- "Love of My Life" (Outtake)
- "Pirate Ballet"
- "You Can Do No Wrong"
- "Be a Clown"
- "Love of My Life" (Reprise)
- "Be a Clown" (Finale)
- "Mack the Black" (Unused Version)
- "Papayas / Seraphin's March" (Partial Demo)
- "Voodoo (Outtake)"
- "Manuela (Demo)"
- "Voodoo (Demo)"
- "Niña (Demo)"
- "You Can Do No Wrong" (Demo)
- "Be a Clown" (Demo)
- Judy Garland Interview with Dick Simmons
- Gene Kelly Interview with Dick Simmons
- The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
- David Shipman The Great Movie Stars: The Golden Years, London: Macdonald, 1989, p.249
- The Pirate at the Internet Movie Database
- The Pirate at AllMovie
- The Pirate at the TCM Movie Database
- The Pirate at the American Film Institute Catalog
- The Pirate at Box Office Mojo
- The Judy Garland Online Discography "The Pirate" pages.
- "The Cinematic Voyage of The Pirate: Kelly, Garland, and Minnelli at Work" (A book with the complete background, production history, and legacy of this classic movie.)