25 February 2002 | robertguttman
Dated, but great fun with the astonishing Douglas Fairbanks
I first heard about this film from my father, who once told me that he saw it as a boy when it first came out and was completely blown away by it. I only recently had the opportunity to see it myself, and I can appreciate his point. Of course it's absurd to compare the production values of an antique movie such as this to modern films, but just see it and try to imagine how it must have seemed to audiences at the Roxy back in 1926!
Needless to say, this elaborate, full-color production is merely a showcase for the incomparable Douglas Fairbanks. Errol Flynn, Tyrone Power, Sean Connery and Harrison Ford pale to insignificance beside Fairbank's bravura on-screen personality. Fairbanks virtually invented the "action-adventure" movie, and films like "The Black Pirate" make it clear why he was the biggest movie star of his time.
In addition, bear in mind that there were no stunt men or blue-screen special effects back then. Fairbanks actually DID all those amazing stunts himself! The only latter-day Hollywood star who would (and did) dare to do his own stunts was the equally incomparable Burt Lancaster.
Don't expect modern acting or sensibilities in The Black Pirate, the movie itself is typical 1920s melodrama. The sets are pretty hokey and the plot is absurd. However, just ignore all that while you sit back and enjoy Douglas Fairbanks delivering one of the most spectacular performances ever captured on screen.