starring Douglas Fairbanks, Billie Dove, Donald Crisp and Sam De Grasse
June, 1926

The resounding gong of the Fairbanks bell has rung again and the world of movie patrons pauses to listen. Doug, the bell-ringer, has again done his stuff. His newest opus, "The Black Pirate," is created out of sheer fancy. Naturally, it takes one back to boyhood days -- what with its swashbuckling tale of piracy on the high seas -- and flavored as it is with glamour, romance and adventure.

Fairbanks has a way of appealing to the boy in the man -- which testifies to the enormous popularity of his pictures. It is very easy to say that "The Black Pirate" takes rank with the previous spectacles. While there is nothing unusual about the story, it, nevertheless, packs away a complete assortment of thrills. It holds one in a tight embrace, thru its melodramatic highlights and its atmosphere of natural color. In our opinion, it reveals the best color job ever shown. There are some beautiful scenes showing the moon kissing the water, the pirates swarming on the decks and clambering about in the rigging, and burying their treasure on the tropical isle.

The picture might have carried a little more variety, tho there isn't a single episode but what is executed in an ingenious manner. There may have been more drama in "Robin Hood" and "Don Q," but there is no denying that Doug's new creation contains a real spirit of romance and adventure. It will send the spectators away with a feeling of having lived over the imaginative days of childhood. It should transport them.

As for Doug -- well, he has never got more in character than in his present role. The main action depicts the rogues under the Jolly Roger looting a boat and blowing her up with the crew lashed to the mats. This gives Fairbanks his big opportunity as the lone survivor. He succeeds in being so convincing that you unconsciously assume his identity. He swears to being the cutthroats to justice --- and does it by joining the pirate band, capturing a merchant ship single-handed (the star displays some remarkable agility here), and rescuing the fair heroine. All of this calls for intensive activity on the pat of Miss Pickford's husband, -- and if you cannot accept it all in the light of reality, you are forced, nevertheless, to admit that it contains action, beauty and imagination.

As in all the previous Fairbanks pictures, the acting is perfectly balanced. Those who stand out conspicuously are Billie Dove (who makes her second appearance in natural colors. She looked so resplendent in "Wanderer of the Wasteland" that it was natural that she would be selected to play the leading feminine role here), Donald Crisp, Anders Randolph, Sam de Grasse, E.J. Ratcliffe and Fred Belcher. Albert Parker has done a magnificent piece of work in his direction. He has time his scenes perfectly and got everything out of the action, characterization -- and the colorful backgrounds."

starring Douglas Fairbanks, Billie Dove, Donald Crisp, Sam De Grasse
May, 1926

A roistering tale of the Spanish Main is "The Black Pirate," and I pity the man whom it does not waft back to the days of his boyhood, when he dreamed of himself climbing aboard the pirate craft and cleaning the seas of the bloodthirsty buccaneers. "Yo, ho, ho -- fifteen men on a dead man's chest." Into it the ever-youthful Doug has injected the very spirit of boyhood romance and adventure, and it would be a hard-hearted parent, indeed, who would not willingly advance the price of the tickets for every youngster in the family. Incidentally, they should include themselves in the entertainment and adventure.

The entire picture is done in colors, not the usual colored photography, but soft tints that delight the eye and emphasize rather than detract from the story value. Nothing has ever been done in colors on the screen that approaches it in beauty and uniformity. The year of experimentation and study that has been put into this phase of the production has been well repaid. In it, Mr. Fairbanks, for the first time in motion pictures, has secured the beautiful effect of mural paintings.

The plot? What do you care about that? It's all about pirates, with Doug, single-handed, capturing a huge galleon to prove he's a good pirate himself. Imagine that!

Billie Dove is the beauty in distress, captured by the toughest pirate that ever slit a throat or scuttled a ship. Donald Crisp runs away with the acting honors, and it is a delight to watch the way in which Doug gives way to him on the screen and lets the audience enjoy Crisp's characterization of an old Scotch pirate: Go see "The Black Pirate."

For more information, see "The Black Pirate" as our "Feature of the Month"

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