“I know that underneath that prim exterior there are depths of emotion, romantic longings, unfulfilled dreams.”
The Pirate is one of MGM’s best musicals. When the film was over I immediately wanted to get it on DVD. It is a fun, entertaining film and one of Gene Kelly’s and Judy Garland’s best.
The Pirate takes place in a Spanish Caribbean town. A girl named Manuela (Garland) has been betrothed to the mayor of the town. She does not love him but is doing what her aunt and uncle (well, mostly her aunt) wish. The mayor is rich and very well off he can offer security to her family. Manuela, though, dreams of being a pirate named Macoco aka Mack the Black. She longs to join the famous pirate on his many sea voyages and adventures instead of being sheltered.
Manuela’s dress comes into port and she really wants to meet it since she have never been down there. She begs her aunt to go and her aunt agrees. Down at the port a troupe of entertainers lead by an actor named Serafin (Kelly) have arrived in town for a few performances. Serafin is a lady’s man looking for love. He lays eyes on Manuela and followers her but she does not want anything to do with him. Serafin’s troupe just so happens to put up their stage in front of Manuela’s hotel and that night she cannot sleep so she dresses and rushes down. Serafin notices her in the crowd and decides to hypnotize her with a device he has. As he is hypnotizing her he has her who she really loves hoping it will be him. Manuela says she loves a man named Macoco. After a nice performance from Manuela, Serafin snaps her out and she runs away in shame.
Manuela and her aunt return home but on her wedding day she gets a bit of a surprise. Serafin and his troupe have arrived to perform not knowing that Manuela lives in the town. Serafin is every bit excited and immediately begins to chase his heart’s desire. Manuela’s aunt manages to trap the actor in Manuela’s room and call for the mayor. The mayor is a big man and Serafin is a little intimidated by him at first but then he realizes the mayor is the real Macoco! The mayor becomes nervous begging the actor not to tell anyone. Serafin seizes the opportunity and runs downstairs proclaiming to be Mac the Black to win Manuela’s heart.
Of course things do not go smoothly with this plan in many aspects but Manuela begins to fall for Serafin.
Judy Garland was most definitely at her best here. I like more in The Pirate than I do in The Wizard of Oz. I often find her annoying but here I found her to be so funny and her acting was really good. The part that clinched me loving this film is when Manuela finds out that Serafin is not Macoco. She starts throwing whatever she can get her hands on at him and she is just raging. I was laughing so hard throughout the entire scene I loved it and mostly because Garland was perfect it was a side of her I never saw before. Gene Kelly channeled Douglas Fairbanks from his hair to his mustache right down to the acrobatics. I liked his character of Serafin because he saw that Manuela wanted more, dreamed of more than the life she was living. Kelly was just a mass of boundless energy and as always he was amazing with all his dancing and running around. Judy Garland and Gene Kelly made an excellent pair all their films together are so much fun to watch.
MGM and Vincente Minnelli did a fabulous job creating a fantastic Caribbean town. The film never would have worked as well as it does had it been made in black and white. The blue of the sky and all the colorful costumes are beautiful. Famed set designer Cedric Gibbons created the sets and costume designer Irene made the costumes.
My favorite musical numbers are “Mack the Black” and “Be a Clown.” The rest of the numbers are ok. Gene Kelly’s dance numbers always tend to be a few minutes too long for my attention span.
The Pirate is an adorable musical. Although MGM dominated the musical film genre and released dozens of fantastic musicals in their long history none of them have the charm and all out fun that The Pirate does.