Crimson Pirate, The (1952)

Crimson Pirate, The (1952)

“Remember: in a pirate ship, in pirate waters, in a pirate world, ask no questions.”

After seizing a ship full of arms from Baron Jose Gruda (Leslie Bradley), the “Crimson Pirate” (Burt Lancaster) and his trusty sidekick Ojo (Nick Cravat) try to win back the loyalty of their mutinous crew while rescuing a damsel-in-distress (Eva Bartok).

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Burt Lancaster Films
  • Christopher Lee Films
  • Historical Drama
  • Pirates
  • Robert Siodmak Films

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary refers to this enjoyably innocuous Technicolor adventure as “perhaps the last first-rate pirate movie” — a statement which is no longer quite true, given the recent success of Pirates of the Caribbean in 2003, but was certainly accurate at the time Guide for the Film Fanatic was published in 1986. As Peary notes, “you won’t pay much attention to the plot”, which isn’t really all that important — the emphasis instead is on both “humor and the high-flying acrobatic stunts of [Burt] Lancaster and Nick Cravat, his former circus partner” — these two are the real reason to watch closely and enjoy. Surprisingly, this action-packed flick was directed by Robert Siodmak, much better known for his noir-ish thrillers; as Peary points out, it’s a “fine change of pace” for him.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Lancaster and Cravat’s phenomenal acrobatic feats together
  • Plenty of colorful sets and costumes
  • The humorous opening “scurvy” scene

Must See?
Yes, as a jolly good pirate show, and one of Lancaster-and-Cravat’s best outings together.


  • Good Show


One thought on “Crimson Pirate, The (1952)

  1. Aye, a must! – ARRRGH!!! This one is just plain fun, a colorful, blockbuster adventure yarn that spells entertainment…and what could be better than that? 😉

    It’s true, the plot is irrelevant – tho there is one, and the script is actually pretty smartly laid-out with a fair amount of genuine surprise. You can’t take this movie seriously for one minute (you’ll note the rather sprightly music score) but all’s the better – just sit back for a rollicking swashbuckling time.

    Siodmak – no doubt thought of as a serious director, based on the bulk of his work – does turn out to be a fine choice here, managing a subtle layer of dramatic tension occasionally…just enough to lend slight gravity to this otherwise boisterous tale. There’s even a fair amount of outright comedy tossed in. But, yes, action does rule the day above all, and there are athletic leaps a-plenty.

    Lancaster is all teeth and bravado and Cravat remains his loyal sidekick – almost connected at the hip, actually. (Cravat is mute throughout and, with his various antics, will soon put viewers in mind of Harpo Marx with muscles.) Bartok is lovely and fine as ‘the girl’ – though she looks almost enough like her that I kept wanting to see Claudia Cardinale in her place (but, then, I often want to be watching Cardinale, so there’s that).

    Beautifully and imaginatively photographed, with fine use of quite a number of locations.

    Gay ffs will be amused by the sudden appearance of men in drag near the end and will no doubt appreciate most of the beefy and beefier specimens among the cast.

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