‘The Black Pirate’ 1926 – Movie Review

Continuing my project of watching every movie featured on Disney’s Great Movie Ride (including the montage at the end), the next review I’m sharing is on The Black Pirate (1926).

Before I get too far into it, I have to share that I think a film like The Black Pirate is just going to be tough to review given the fact that I’m viewing it in a 2023 lens and I can’t help that. Every film included on the Great Movie Ride was added to the montage for a reason, and given this movie’s 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes among other critical successes, I feel I have to assume that The Black Pirate is technically “good,” according to the people who know how to judge a film better than I do. But here’s what I thought…

The plot of The Black Pirate is pretty much what you would expect from a movie with this title. It’s a little convoluted, but basically it follows the “Black Pirate” (Douglas Fairbanks) through several events one would hope to see in such a film, with plundering, sinking ships, treasure, and a rather rushed romance involving a woman he names a “princess.”

The strong points of this film to me are the stunts and visuals. I wasn’t expecting to see underwater shots in a 1926 silent film, and those were well done and added another layer of dimension to the storytelling. On top of this, there were several impressive acrobatic movies, and I’m still left wondering how some of the footage of the ships was shot in this time period.

That being said, the plot is convoluted (honestly, that’s why I didn’t even rehash it much here.) Things happen, don’t get me wrong, and there is some coherent storyline as the movie essentially follows what the Black Pirate does after stepping into the role when his father dies, but to me it felt like one of those movies where the plot was a little overly complicated (not that it was hard to follow, but that it tried to fit too many small points in one story, if that makes sense). I was so captivated by the stunts and visuals and honestly not much else (though the acting as far as I could tell from a silent film was pretty good, too), so I could have done without so many plot points.

I probably wouldn’t rush to watch this one again, but I can appreciate how advanced it seemed for the time and can understand why it was included in the montage.

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