The Black Pirate (1926)

Adventure | 8 March 1926

Director:

Albert Parker

Cinematographer:

Henry Sharp

Editor:

William Nolan

Production Designer:

Karl Oscar Borg

Production Company:

The Elton Corp.
Full page view
HISTORY

The 23 May 1925 Motion Picture News announced The Black Pirate as the next Douglas Fairbanks starrer, which he planned to film “entirely in color.” His cameraman, Henry Sharp, was conducting experiments with new color film technology, and principal photography was expected to begin in six weeks.
       On 27 Jun 1925, Exhibitors Trade Review reported that Henry Sharp and production manager Theodore Reed had recently scouted locations along the Southern CA coast with a color camera in tow, and discovered several “ideal locations” for The Black Pirate between Los Angeles and San Diego. The 8 Aug 1925 Motion Picture News added that Fairbanks had been considering the project for the two years.
       The 19 Sep 1925 Motion Picture News announced that the color experiment phase had been completed, and within a week, the 25 Sep 1925 FD indicated that principal photography was underway using the Technicolor process, with six to eight weeks expected for filming. A photograph of Fairbanks with Olympic swimmer, Johnny Weissmuller, published in the 3 Oct 1925 Exhibitors Trade Review, stated that Weissmuller was coaching Fairbanks to swim for his role. Weissmuller would later star in several “Tarzan” pictures in the 1930s and 1940s.
       The 31 Oct 1925 Exhibitors Trade Review noted that hundreds of background actors were needed for battle scenes taking place at sea. Billie Dove was listed as one of only two actresses to appear in the film. The second, who would play her maid, was not yet cast.
       According to the 25 Oct 1925 FD and the 7 Nov 1925 Motion ... More Less

The 23 May 1925 Motion Picture News announced The Black Pirate as the next Douglas Fairbanks starrer, which he planned to film “entirely in color.” His cameraman, Henry Sharp, was conducting experiments with new color film technology, and principal photography was expected to begin in six weeks.
       On 27 Jun 1925, Exhibitors Trade Review reported that Henry Sharp and production manager Theodore Reed had recently scouted locations along the Southern CA coast with a color camera in tow, and discovered several “ideal locations” for The Black Pirate between Los Angeles and San Diego. The 8 Aug 1925 Motion Picture News added that Fairbanks had been considering the project for the two years.
       The 19 Sep 1925 Motion Picture News announced that the color experiment phase had been completed, and within a week, the 25 Sep 1925 FD indicated that principal photography was underway using the Technicolor process, with six to eight weeks expected for filming. A photograph of Fairbanks with Olympic swimmer, Johnny Weissmuller, published in the 3 Oct 1925 Exhibitors Trade Review, stated that Weissmuller was coaching Fairbanks to swim for his role. Weissmuller would later star in several “Tarzan” pictures in the 1930s and 1940s.
       The 31 Oct 1925 Exhibitors Trade Review noted that hundreds of background actors were needed for battle scenes taking place at sea. Billie Dove was listed as one of only two actresses to appear in the film. The second, who would play her maid, was not yet cast.
       According to the 25 Oct 1925 FD and the 7 Nov 1925 Motion Picture News, four “Spanish Main” ships were being built for the production at that time, three of which ranged in length from 100 to 212 feet, and the fourth totaling seventy-five feet. The ships were “fashioned after paintings by Carl Oscar Borg,” and would be, “propelled by a hundred oars.” P. H. L. Wilson was supervising construction and serving as “fleet captain” of the 380-man construction crew. Sections of the ships were duplicated and mounted on steel cradles in the studio for close-ups, as mechanical devices mimicked the vessels’ rocking. The 14 Nov 1925 Motion Picture News announced plans to explode “a full rigged seventeenth century galleon” known as the Muriel, that had previously been used to ship lumber before it was damaged and docked at Balboa Harbor.
       On 30 Nov 1925, FD announced that production would end “shortly after the holidays.” The 13 Jan 1926 FD reported that principal photography had just completed, and an autumn 1926 release was anticipated.
       The premiere was held on 8 Mar 1926 at New York City’s Selwyn Theatre, according to a news item from the same day’s FD. The West Coast premiere of The Black Pirate took place on 14 May 1926 at Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, CA, as part of a “unique double-feature” with Fairbanks’s wife, Mary Pickford, showing Sparrows, as announced in the 29 May 1926 Moving Picture World.
       The Black Pirate was voted one of the “Top Best Features” of 1926 by the 1929 Film Daily Year Book, as reported in the 7 Feb 1930 FD. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Exhibitors Trade Review
27 Jun 1925
p. 57.
Exhibitors Trade Review
3 Oct 1925
p. 23.
Exhibitors Trade Review
31 Oct 1925
p. 18.
Film Daily
25 Sep 1925
p. 4.
Film Daily
25 Oct 1925
p. 1.
Film Daily
30 Nov 1925
p. 1.
Film Daily
13 Jan 1926
p. 2.
Film Daily
8 Mar 1926
p. 2.
Film Daily
21 Mar 1926
p. 6.
Film Daily
7 Feb 1930
p. 8.
Life
25 Mar 1926
p. 26.
Motion Picture News
23 May 1925.
---
Motion Picture News
8 Aug 1925.
---
Motion Picture News
19 Sep 1925.
---
Motion Picture News
7 Nov 1925.
---
Motion Picture News
14 Nov 1925.
---
Motion Picture News
4 Dec 1926.
---
Moving Picture World
29 May 1926
p. 395.
New York Times
9 Mar 1926
p. 21.
Photoplay
May 1926
p. 48.
Variety
10 Mar 1926
p. 21.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Story
Scenario ed
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Assoc artists
Assoc artists
Research dir
Consultant
Consultant
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
MUSIC
Mus score
PRODUCTION MISC
Marine technician
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor staff
Technicolor staff
DETAILS
Release Date:
8 March 1926
Premiere Information:
New York premiere: 8 March 1926
Hollywood premiere at Grauman's Egyptian Theatre: 14 May 1926
Production Date:
began late September 1925
Copyright Claimant:
The Elton Corp.
Copyright Date:
20 March 1926
Copyright Number:
LP22505
Physical Properties:
Silent
Color
Two-strip Technicolor
Length(in feet):
8,490
Length(in reels):
9
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

A Spanish vessel is captured on the high seas by pirates who bind the crew and loot and blow up the ship. The only survivors are Michel and his father: they are marooned on a desert island, and when his father dies, Michel swears to avenge his death. He joins a pirate band and proves himself by capturing a merchant ship singlehanded; thereafter, he is known as The Black Pirate. Falling in love with a girl (The Princess) on the captured ship, he saves her by keeping her hostage and holding her for ransom, but he is caught in an attempt to escape and is forced to walk the plank. Swimming ashore, he returns with a boatload of men to rescue The Princess; the crew scuttle the ship, and, swimming underwater, Michel and his men storm the pirate vessel and capture it. Michel reveals that he is a Spanish duke and offers his hand in marriage to The Princess, which she ... +


A Spanish vessel is captured on the high seas by pirates who bind the crew and loot and blow up the ship. The only survivors are Michel and his father: they are marooned on a desert island, and when his father dies, Michel swears to avenge his death. He joins a pirate band and proves himself by capturing a merchant ship singlehanded; thereafter, he is known as The Black Pirate. Falling in love with a girl (The Princess) on the captured ship, he saves her by keeping her hostage and holding her for ransom, but he is caught in an attempt to escape and is forced to walk the plank. Swimming ashore, he returns with a boatload of men to rescue The Princess; the crew scuttle the ship, and, swimming underwater, Michel and his men storm the pirate vessel and capture it. Michel reveals that he is a Spanish duke and offers his hand in marriage to The Princess, which she accepts. +

GENRE
Genre:


Subject
Subject (Major):

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

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.