The Pirate (1948)

101-102 mins | Adventure | 11 June 1948

Director:

Vincente Minnelli

Producer:

Arthur Freed

Cinematographer:

Harry Stradling

Editor:

Blanche Sewell

Production Designers:

Cedric Gibbons, Jack Martin Smith

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

The New York production of the play on which this film is based starred Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, and was not a musical. The Theatre Guild production was based on the 1911 German play Der Seeräuber by Ludwig Fulda. Contemporary news items in HR indicate that M-G-M paid $225,000 for the rights to the Broadway show, and that the deal included a provision barring the studio from releasing the film before 15 Jun 1944. A Sep 1943 HR news item noted that the film, after being assigned to producer Joe Pasternak, was scheduled for "early production" under the direction of Henry Koster. Contemporary news items indicate that the property was shelved in early 1944 and resurrected in Aug 1945, when a HR news item noted that M-G-M set Judy Garland to star in the film. Although an Apr 1944 HR news item noted that the project had been taken off the shelf, and that the script was being polished by Pasternak and Koster, pre-production work on the film did not fully resume until Aug 1945.
       Information in the file on the film in the MPPA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library and in the Arthur Freed Collection at the USC Cinema/Television Library indicates that Joseph L. Mankiewicz wrote the first adaption of Behrman's play in Aug 1943, and that Mankiewicz's screenplay was reviewed by the Breen Office and given a generally favorable assessment. (The MPPA had earlier objected to the story on the grounds that it suggested infidelity on the part of "Manuela"). Mankiewicz's screenplay was rejected and later followed by several complete and incomplete screenplays ...

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The New York production of the play on which this film is based starred Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, and was not a musical. The Theatre Guild production was based on the 1911 German play Der Seeräuber by Ludwig Fulda. Contemporary news items in HR indicate that M-G-M paid $225,000 for the rights to the Broadway show, and that the deal included a provision barring the studio from releasing the film before 15 Jun 1944. A Sep 1943 HR news item noted that the film, after being assigned to producer Joe Pasternak, was scheduled for "early production" under the direction of Henry Koster. Contemporary news items indicate that the property was shelved in early 1944 and resurrected in Aug 1945, when a HR news item noted that M-G-M set Judy Garland to star in the film. Although an Apr 1944 HR news item noted that the project had been taken off the shelf, and that the script was being polished by Pasternak and Koster, pre-production work on the film did not fully resume until Aug 1945.
       Information in the file on the film in the MPPA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library and in the Arthur Freed Collection at the USC Cinema/Television Library indicates that Joseph L. Mankiewicz wrote the first adaption of Behrman's play in Aug 1943, and that Mankiewicz's screenplay was reviewed by the Breen Office and given a generally favorable assessment. (The MPPA had earlier objected to the story on the grounds that it suggested infidelity on the part of "Manuela"). Mankiewicz's screenplay was rejected and later followed by several complete and incomplete screenplays and treatments written by various writers, including Myles Connolly, H. Kraley, Edwin Blum, Howard Emmett Rogers, Lillian Braun, Anita Loos and Joseph Than. Materials contained in the M-G-M Scripts Collection indicate that Wilkie Mahoney contributed to the screenplay, and that producer Arthur Freed and writer Robert Nathan were involved in the writing of the retakes. The extent of the contribution to the final film of all the above-mentioned writers has not been determined. Modern sources note that writer Sally Benson contributed to a draft of the screenplay.
       News items appearing in HR in Nov and Dec 1943 indicate that M-G-M sought Greer Garson, Cary Grant and Charles Laughton for starring roles in the film. A May 1946 HR news item announced Lena Horne in a principal role, but she did not appear in the film. According to a Breen Office memo, M-G-M had, at one point, considered starring Ingrid Bergman opposite Cary Grant. Minnelli's biography notes that the film was initially considered as a starring vehicle for William Powell and Hedy Lamarr, and that Myrna Loy was suggested for the part of "Manuela" at the time the Koster and Connelly screenplay was being developed. An unidentified 30 Jun 1947 news item in the AMPAS production file noted that this picture was to mark the screen debut of Garland's fifteen-month-old daughter Liza Minnelli, but she did not appear in the film.
       Production began on 17 Feb 1947, and although Harry Stradling was the only cameraman credited onscreen, an Apr 1947 HR news item notes that George Folsey stepped in for Stradling when he fell ill. According to modern sources, the film's numerous production setbacks and high costs were due primarily to problems relating to Garland, whose mental and physical condition was rapidly deteriorating, and whose addiction to barbituates was becoming increasingly obvious. Garland was committed to a sanitarium in Compton, CA, following the release of the picture. According to modern sources, the final cost of the picture was $3,768,014, and it was the only Garland film ever to lose money for M-G-M. In an interview quoted in a modern source, Gene Kelly expressed his disappointment with the film, stating "whatever I did looked like fake Barrymore and fake Fairbanks. But that's the result of the damned elusive camera I'd been trying so hard to tame." A modern source quotes Cole Porter as having said that the film was "a $5,000,000 Hollywood picture that was unspeakably wretched, the worst that money could buy." Musical director Lennie Hayton was nominated for an Academy Award for his musical score.

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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
3 Apr 1948
---
Daily Variety
29 Mar 1948
p. 3, 11
Film Daily
31 Mar 1948
p. 10
Hollywood Reporter
12 Jan 1943
p. 1
Hollywood Reporter
1 Jun 1943
p. 3
Hollywood Reporter
23 Sep 1943
p. 1
Hollywood Reporter
22 Nov 1943
p. 4
Hollywood Reporter
24 Dec 1943
p. 1
Hollywood Reporter
10 Apr 1944
p. 1
Hollywood Reporter
14 Aug 1945
p. 1
Hollywood Reporter
1 Apr 1946
p. 1
Hollywood Reporter
21 Feb 1947
p. 16
Hollywood Reporter
4 Apr 1947
p. 6
Hollywood Reporter
13 Jun 1947
p. 14
Hollywood Reporter
29 Mar 1948
p. 3
Hollywood Reporter
25 May 1948
p. 6, 10
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
3 Apr 1948
p. 4110
New York Times
21 May 1948
p. 19
Variety
31 Mar 1948
p. 15
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Wally Worsley
Asst dir
PRODUCER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Stills
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Assoc
COSTUMES
Cost supv
Cost des
[Cost] executed by
MUSIC
Mus dir
Instrumental arr
DANCE
Dance dir
Dance dir
MAKEUP
Hair styles des by
Makeup created by
PRODUCTION MISC
Paintings
Prod mgr
Scr supv
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
Assoc
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play The Pirate by S. N. Behrman, as produced by The Playwrights Producing Company and The Theatre Guild, Inc. (New York: 25 Nov 1942).
LITERARY SOURCE AUTHOR
SONGS
"Niña," "Mack the Black," "You Can Do No Wrong," "Be a Clown" and "Love of My Life," music and lyrics by Cole Porter.
SONGWRITER/COMPOSER
DETAILS
Release Date:
11 June 1948
Production Date:
17 Feb-14 Aug 1947; retakes: 27 Aug, 22 Oct, 27 Oct, 18 Nov and 17-19 Dec 1947
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Loew's Inc.
16 March 1948
LP1556
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
101-102
Length(in feet):
9,136
Length(in reels):
11
Country:
United States
PCA No:
12434
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

In the 1830's, on an island village of Colvado, in the West Indies, young Manuela is told by her aunt Inez that arrangements have been made for her to marry Don Pedro Vargas, the new mayor of the town. The news comes as a disappointment to Manuela, who has fantasized about being swept away by the notorious Macoco, the "ruthless, magnificent and romantic" pirate. However, she consents to marry Don Pedro out of gratitude to her aunt and uncle, who reared her since the death of her parents. After promising Inez that she will make Don Pedro a good wife, Manuela persuades her aunt to take her on a trip to the island of San Sebastian. Manuela and her aunt arrive at the island port just as a ship carrying Serafin and his troupe of performers docks. While performing his dazzling antics for the audience at the port, Serafin takes notice of Manuela and follows her to the shore, where he tries to seduce her. Although she resists his advances, Serafin invites Manuela to his show later that evening. At the show, after Serafin hypnotizes Manuela with a spinning mirror, she performs a dance and sings the praises of her dream lover, Macoco. Unable to wake her from her trance by conventional means, Serfain kisses her to bring her back, and when she realizes that the audience is cheering their kiss, she flees in embarrassment. Manuela returns to Colvado and begins her preparations for the wedding, but Serafin follows her and insists that she call off the marriage and run away with his troupe. Overhearing Serafin's demand, Don Pedro bursts into the ...

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In the 1830's, on an island village of Colvado, in the West Indies, young Manuela is told by her aunt Inez that arrangements have been made for her to marry Don Pedro Vargas, the new mayor of the town. The news comes as a disappointment to Manuela, who has fantasized about being swept away by the notorious Macoco, the "ruthless, magnificent and romantic" pirate. However, she consents to marry Don Pedro out of gratitude to her aunt and uncle, who reared her since the death of her parents. After promising Inez that she will make Don Pedro a good wife, Manuela persuades her aunt to take her on a trip to the island of San Sebastian. Manuela and her aunt arrive at the island port just as a ship carrying Serafin and his troupe of performers docks. While performing his dazzling antics for the audience at the port, Serafin takes notice of Manuela and follows her to the shore, where he tries to seduce her. Although she resists his advances, Serafin invites Manuela to his show later that evening. At the show, after Serafin hypnotizes Manuela with a spinning mirror, she performs a dance and sings the praises of her dream lover, Macoco. Unable to wake her from her trance by conventional means, Serfain kisses her to bring her back, and when she realizes that the audience is cheering their kiss, she flees in embarrassment. Manuela returns to Colvado and begins her preparations for the wedding, but Serafin follows her and insists that she call off the marriage and run away with his troupe. Overhearing Serafin's demand, Don Pedro bursts into the room and prepares to whip Serafin. Alone with Don Pedro, Serafin immediately recognizes him as the notorious fugitive pirate Macoco and threatens to expose him. Determined to keep his identity a secret, Don Pedro acquiesces to Serafin's demand that he play along with his scheme to pose as Macoco in order to win Manuela's affections. Manuela readily believes Serafin when he tells her that he is Macoco, and plans are made for their elopement. Meanwhile, Don Pedro doublecrosses Serafin and solicits the help of the viceroy and his army to apprehend him and bring him to trial as Macoco. When Serafin's valet accidentally reveals to Manuela that her Macoco is a fake, she becomes enraged. However, her love for Serafin proves stronger than the insult of the lie and she eventually makes amends with Serafin. Their reconcilliation is soon interrupted, though, when Serafin is arrested and charged with Macoco's crimes. Things look bad for Serafin when he is unable to prove his true identity because Don Pedro has planted stolen jewels in his trunk. Only moment before his intended execution, Serafin, with the help of Manuela, manages to outwit Don Pedro and snare him in a clever trap by staging a hypnotic act in which Manuela praises Macoco's renowned virtues. This makes the real Macoco jealous and drives him to confesses with pride his true identity. The execution is halted, and Serafin and Manuela leave to join Serafin's traveling show.

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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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