5 October 2011 | dinky-4
Minor, but with points of interest
To date, only one other viewer has reviewed this obscure item from 1954, and while I sympathize with that viewer's lack of enthusiasm, I feel "The Black Pirates" deserves a few words of mild commendation. True, it's land-locked and doesn't have a single scene set on the High Seas, but this terrestrial setting helps "ground" the action and keeps it focused on the interrelationships between the bereft pirates and the residents of the village where buried treasure may be located. Perhaps surprisingly, the villagers receive a majority of the attention, and they're presented not as a united force but as a collection of varied interests. Also surprisingly, the leading man (Anthony Dexter) and the leading lady (Martha Roth) are not the story's hero and heroine. In fact, Lon Chaney jr. provides the movie's moral core, being cast (against type) as a benevolent and determined priest. These and other factors are then shaped into a brisk, efficient, and thankfully short feature. In summary, those with even a bit of adventurous taste may find hints of value in this unassuming effort. (A point of possible interest: a bare-chested Robert Clarke, tied to the village's T-shaped whipping post, suffers a vigorous flogging in the movie's opening reel. This scene, probably because of its obscurity, doesn't make the list in the book "Lash! The 100 Great Scenes of Men Being Whipped in the Movies," but it's a good scene and worth noting. Curiously, the other two whipping scenes from 1954 movies both involve the same victim. Ricardo Montalban was flogged across his bare chest in "The Queen of Babylon" and was then flogged across his bare back in "The Saracen Blade.") Alas, surviving prints of "The Black Pirates," in fading color, are not in good shape.