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   THE BLACK SWAN (1942) 

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CAST
Tyrone Power
Maureen O'Hara
Laird Cregar
Thomas Mitchell
George Sanders
Anthony Quinn
George Zucco
Edward Ashley
Bonnie Bannon
Fortunio Bonanova

DIRECTED BY
Henry King

PURCHASE


DVD




Time: 87 mins.
Rating: Not Rated
Genre: Adventure/Romance


SYNOPSIS: Recently reformed pirate Jamie Boy (Power) is supposed to be helping the new Governor of Jamaica, Captain Morgan, rid the Caribbean of black-hearted buccaneers. But when Jamie falls head over keel for the heavenly, but hotheaded Lady Margaret (O'Hara), he gives caution the heave-ho, kidnaps Margaret and sets sail. In order to save their lives, he claims she's his wife and pretends to join forces with the renegade Captain Leech, who doesn't appreciate the deception, forcing a battle for supremacy of the seas.

BOTTOM LINE: Long before Depp and Company made piracy fun again, THE BLACK SWAN delivered hijinks, heroics and romance to the high seas. Tyrone Power is perfectly cast as a brash, arrogant, handsome pirate willing to do anything to stay alive and to capture the heart of an equally hard-headed spitfire played perfectly by the stunning Maureen O'Hara. Both of them are so goodlooking and charismatic you almost forget what the film is all about. In the end, it all comes down to what Jamie Boy has to do to prove to the Lady Margaret that he's not a total scumbag and is actually a gentleman worthy of her love. Power has an innate goodness that makes him believable as an honorable man, even though his actions are far from gentle most of the time. The rest of the plot is just double dealings and machinations between the government and various pirates in an effort to bring all the fighting factions together in one giant, full-on, explosive sea battle finale. It doesn't really matter who's doing what, just that none of them trusts the others and that all of them are willing to kill to keep their ships afloat and the gold flowing.

Thankfully, Power and O'Hara are accompanied by a slew of first-rate character actors – Quinn, Cregar, Mitchell and Sanders – who are clearly relishing every minute of this gig. Who wouldn't want to play a pirate? It's all drinking and swordplay, with a few stolen kisses from saucy wenches to break up the constant male bonding. Sanders is unrecognizable under his red wig and beard, yet his portrayal of the traitorous Captain Leech oozes with his trademark sleaziness and intelligence. He adds much humor and menace to the plot, especially once he sets his eyes on Lady Margaret. For her part, O'Hara makes sure our leading lady gives as good as she gets, unwilling to be a mere plaything to be tossed from pirate to pirate. If she's gonna be forced to give up her maidenhood the man who takes it is going to remember the encounter...and not in a pleasurable way. This role could have come off as annoying and shrill, but O'Hara has too much spirit, class and intelligence to be a wilting flower. I have to wonder if Keira Knightley saw this film because her part in PIRATES is very similar.

While I found the locations and art direction to be worthy of a blockbuster of this nature, the costumes, at times, were cumbersome and outlandish, despite being fairly period accurate. They make the film seem especially dated and a bit ridiculous, ruining the sense of danger and intrigue just a smidge. The final confrontation between Jamie Boy and Leech is well worth the wait. Their dislike for each other is palpable and even though it's clear who's going to come up dead they make the swordfighting fair and intensely exciting. That Jamie Boy gets the girl was obviously going to happen, but I sort of wished it hadn't. Power and O'Hara were more believable when they loathed each other than locking lips, but I guess you have to throw the ladies a bone every once in a while. Power and company makes this enough fun you'll yearn to be a pirate...or his saucy wench.




"I always sample a bottle of wine before I buy it. Let's have a sip, see if you're worth taking along."

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