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[i]The Pirate[/i] (1948)

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I may anger some folks, but 'The Pirate' was totally dumb. The music was fine, in it's way, but the story was stupid.


I know I'm just a voice 'crying out in the wilderness' but for example, the Chris Walken (who's another looney tunes), says, in his tribute, that GK liked tight fitting clothes to show off his male physique. Hah, pure egotism. I'm not taking away from his dancing, he was innovative, but strictly speaking, he's a showoff.


This is nothing new for me to say, I said it months ago on another thread, but this month has only enhanced my opinion. Now before anyone starts spouting Julie Andrews in reverse - that's why I chose this particular thread. The movie 'The Pirate' opened the door for me to voice how I feel.


GK did many of the same things FA did, by using various props and dancing partners, but I still say Fred gave his partners more advantage to shine in his manner of always twirling them forward toward the camera, rather than keeping them behind them as GK does. Again, let me reiterate that he was a fine dancer, my problem with him is his ego. That's been my opinion for years, I'm just stating it in writing now.



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Did you check out the trivia on imdb.com? It includes the bit about L.B. Mayer ordering the "Voodoo" number to be destroyed...


* Gene Kelly fought to get The Nicholas Brothers (Fayard Nicholas and Harold Nicholas) included in the movie.


* When one dance sequence was being rehearsed, Harold Nicholas was just going through the motions, and Gene Kelly accused him of not knowing the routine - so Nicholas danced the whole routine, alone, full-out and flawlessly. Kelly was speechless.


* The "Be a Clown" sequence was cut by exhibitors in Memphis and other U.S. cities in the South because it included The Nicholas Brothers, who were black.


* Judy Garland missed 99 of the 135 shooting days due to illness.


* Cole Porter was asked to write the songs for the movie, and he did on one condition that he could change the name of the Pirate (who from the play was named Estramundo) to Macoco - the name of a friend whose nick name was Mack the Black.


* The film was a major financial bust upon release, eventually losing $2 million for MGM.


* The original script by Anita Loos and Joseph Than included a role for Lena Horne as a Caribbean dressmaker, which was later cut.


* The torrid romance enacted by Judy Garland and Gene Kelly in the song-and-dance number "Voodoo" so enraged Louis B Mayer that he demanded that the negative be burned.


* Gene Kelly helped invent a device which allowed the bulky Technicolor cameras to shoot from low angles.

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Hi Anne!


I would say you are in the majority with your oppinion on The Pirate... Most really think it is quite freaky (especially GK's style and appearance). Really, I have to be honest, I have stated it before but anything GK wears is alright with me. I just find him incredibly attractive. I think it is because all my life I grew up thinking male dancers were not masculine, then when I saw GK dance for the first time I thought it was the hottest thing I'd ever seen. I think GK did have a large ego, but I also think he wore tight clothing to appear more masculine in order to contradict stereotyping. Just my oppinion...


As for the movie, it's actually Cole Porter's score that makes it hard to bear for me (like that song Nina, Nina! Sheesh...). I think they really are some of the worst songs I have ever heard... Only the "Be A Clown" number sticks out as one that might be of use. Other than that, I enjoy the storyline of Serafin taking on a dangerous persona in order to attract Manuella. But that is about all the plot is, I guess.


As for your oppinion, it is well-grounded on GK's ego. I know a great many people cannot get past who he was in real life and the pig headedness he displays on screen... It is sort of like Bing Crosby with me, I just love the man I can't help it. :)

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As RO pointed out after the showing yesterday, the movie was better received by critics than by most audiences. This review from the Times gives a generally enthusiastic reaction to the film...


'The Pirate,' With Gene Kelly, Judy Garland and Walter Slezak, at Music Hall

Published: May 21, 1948


The difference between the talents of Gene Kelly and Judy Garland and those of Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne is as night is to day. "The Pirate" was fashioned most purposefully for the celebrated pair from (Senesee Depot, so Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer wisely set about making little, but significant, changes here and there in filming this fantastic conglomeration of legerdemain, dancing and romance. "The Pirate," which came yesterday to the Radio City Music Hall, is a dazzling, spectacular extravaganza, shot through with all the colors of the rainbow and then some that are Technicolor patented.


It takes this mammoth show some time to generate a full head of steam, but when it gets rolling it's thoroughly delightful. However, the momentum is far from steady and the result is a lopsided entertainment that is wonderfully flamboyant in its high spots and bordering on tedium elsewhere. Perhaps such unevenness is the inevitable consequence in the case of a will-o'-the-wisp romance so extravagantly larded with bizarre production qualities. But Vincente Minnelli, the director, doesn't permit the show to drag too much, for most of the scenes are crowded with people and?should we mention it again??color.


Gene Kelly is doing some of the fanciest gymnastic dancing of his career in "The Pirate"?and he's good, very good, indeed. As the strolling thespian, Serafin, who masquerades as the bold pirate Macoco to capture the fancy of the fair maiden, Manuela, and prevent her marriage to the flabby and stuffy Don Pedro Vargas, Mr. Kelly scales balconies and swings through the air with the authority and grace exhibited by the late Douglas Fairbanks. When he is whirling about the screen, serenading beautiful Caribbean damsels, or vigorously performing a ballet depicting piratical exploits that is brilliantly photographed in flaming shades of red and punctuated with yellow bursts of flashing gun powder, "The Pirate" achieves the pinnacle of spectacle.


The story line of the S. N. Behrman play has been straightened and strengthened somewhat in the script provided by Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich, though it does not quite match the original in humorous content. For some reason Mr. Kelly doesn't attempt to duplicate Mr. Lunt's feats of magic, being content to hypnotize the unhappy Manuela (Miss Garland) into admitting her love for him and, again, to mesmerize the crafty Don Pedro into confessing that he is in fact the infamous pirate, Macoco.


Miss Garland teams nicely with Mr. Kelly, singing or dancing, and she throws herself with verve into a wild, slapstick exercise, tossing everything that's not nailed down at the dashing trouper. It's funny, but a mite overdone. However, the finale, which finds the pair on the threshold of living happily ever after, is a lively roughhouse session of clowning set to the tune of "Be A Clown," easily the best of Cole Porter's several songs. Walter Slezak as Don Pedro, Gladys Cooper as Aunt Inez and George Zucco as the viceroy do well by their roles. But "The Pirate" is Mr. Kelly's picture and he gives it all he has, which is considerable and worthy of attention.



THE PIRATE, based on the play by S. N. Behrman as produced by the Playwrights Company and the Theatre Guild; screen play by Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich; songs by Cole Porter; dances staged by Robert Alton and Gene Kelly; directed by Vineente Minnelli; produced by Arthur Freed for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. At the Music Hall.

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Musicals were usually MGMs big money makers especially in the 40s and early 50s, but according to a book I have on Arthur Freed, expensive musicals such as "Yolanda and the Thief", "The Pirate", "The Belle of New York", and "Summer Holiday" all lost money at the box office. On the other hand, "Meet Me In St. Louis", "The Harvey Girls", "Showboat", "Anchors Aweigh" and "The Toast of New Orleans" made more than enough money to make up for the losses on the others. I love that movie producers took chances during the golden age that they would make now. I find all the flops that I mentioned all fascinating in their own right.

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Just out of curiosity, I just checked the TOP 50 MGM Grossing Musical list. "The Harvey Girls" was indeed one of her biggest hits grossing $4.1 million dollars. According to the top-grossing MGM musical list, Judy Garland's biggest grosser was "Meet Me In St Louis" (5.2 million), and then came the all star film "Till the Clouds Roll By" (4.7 million) and then "Easter Parade" (4.2 million).


"Marie Antoinette" is an awesome film with brilliant performances. I also love her in "The Barretts of Wimpole Street", and "Smilin' Through". Have you ever seen "Riptide"?

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> I didn't see "The Wizard of Oz" on the Top 50 Grosser

> List, but I think it only calculates the box office

> receipts of the original release.


That's the catch with movies that received several re-issues, like WOO, Snow White, GWTW, etc. :(

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It's the least I can do for the person who pointed me in the direction of "The Complete Showboat Collection" on e-bay. BTW, you might of noticed it already, but if you go to the bottom of the Top Grosser List, there's a link that should bring you to the main list of ALL MGM musicals in order.

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For someone like me who never learned how to swim, Ester Williams movies are pure gold. One of my favorites of hers is Jupiter's Darling, partly because Howard Keel is the other lead, and because it has Marge and Gower Champion, a partnership I've adored.




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I just saw Thrill Of A Romance and loved it, but I am kind of partial to Van ;) I wrote a reply to PF, but it obviously didn't register... But I agreed totally with your oppinion on The Pirate.


And have to say one of my favorite dance sequences was the last one just before Serafin was suppose to be executed. I think it is such a seductive dance. B-)


As for Esther Williams, I love her! She was such a great team with Kelly in Take Me Out To The Ballgame!

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