The Pirate (1948)
“The great MGM musical romance”
Director: Vincente Minnelli
Cast: Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, Walter Slezak
Synopsis: A girl is engaged to the local richman, but meanwhile she has dreams about the legendary pirate Macoco. A traveling singer falls in love with her and to impress her he poses as the pirate.
“See The Loveliness Of The Caribbean” trumpets the trailer for The Pirate – a little misleading as the entire movie is clearly set-bound. Having said that, The Pirate is a typically colourful and exuberant MGM musical from a time when MGM were undisputed masters of the genre.
It’s surprising, therefore, to learn that this movie actually made a loss upon it’s release, recouping only about two-thirds of it’s budget. While it isn’t the most memorable of musicals, the quality of The Pirate’s numbers and performances is certainly good enough to have deserved better commercial success.
Gene Kelly, at his peak, is an awesome spectacle: graceful and agile, he bounds around the screen, upstaging all others, relentlessly striking poses designed to accentuate the strength and definition of his form. In contrast, Judy Garland, while delivering a creditable performance and belting out her numbers with gusto, looks small and frail. Kelly’s powerful physique emphasises Garland’s fragility, slightly undermining the undeniable chemistry between the pair.
The story is the usual fluff designed to link the musical set-pieces and, by that measure, serves it’s purpose well. Slezak turns in an enjoyable performance as a sleazy mayor with designs on Garland, and Gladys Cooper is as reliable as ever as Garland’s elderly aunt.
(Reviewed 10th February 2002)