Tuesday, June 26, 2007

PIRATES OF THE GOLDEN AGE

Universal’s PIRATES OF THE GOLDEN AGE collects four Fifties swashbucklers in one low-priced, 2-disc collection. All four films are presented in crisp, colorful, full-frame transfers, with clear mono sound. There are no extras aside from a couple of trailers.

AGAINST ALL FLAGS (1952) is the best film in this set, with an aging Errol Flynn returning to the genre that made him a star as a British naval officer who goes undercover to infiltrate a pirate enclave on Madagascar. There he meets and woos buccaneer beauty Maureen O’Hara (hotter than ever) and incurs the wrath of sly Anthony Quinn. Despite the low budget, heavyset hero and stage-bound action, FLAGS is a great little b-movie swashbuckler and alone worth the price of the set.

BUCCANEER’S GIRL (1950) is more of a bodice-ripping period romance than a pirate film, with a young and sexy Yvonne De Carlo (THE MUNSTERS) as a feisty New Orleans saloon entertainer who falls for a legendary pirate captain. It’s a decent little B-film, if you’re in the right mood.

YANKEE BUCCANEER (1952) re-uses most of the FLAGS sets and sea footage in an overly talky tale of an American naval vessel pretending to be pirates of the Caribbean. A good, likeable cast, led by Jeff Chandler, can’t quite make up for the lack of thrills, but they try.

DOUBLE CROSSBONES (1950) is the other gem of the GOLDEN AGE set, a kid-friendly spoof of pirate flicks with Donald O’Connor (the FRANCIS THE TALKING MULE series, SINGING IN THE RAIN) as a bumbling shopkeeper’s assistant who inadvertently becomes a pirate captain. It’s fun and funny, and a cheerfully silly diversion.

Thanks to Johnny Depp and his friends, Universal has unearthed this affordable chest of minor treasures, and as a fan of the genre, I’m grateful. I’m especially pleased to finally have AGAINST ALL FLAGS on DVD – it’s long overdue.

BUY: Pirates of the Golden Age Movie Collection (Against All Flags / Buccaneer's Girl / Yankee Buccaneer / Double Crossbones)