PIRATES—-this one can tick you off. After the heyday of swashbucklers in the 30s and 40s, there were periodic gambols to resurrect the splashy skulduggery of the skull & crossbones set, and they rarely measured up (Burt Lancaster’s The Crimson Pirate and Errol Flynn’s The Master Of Ballantrae are notable exceptions). Waterlogged attempts included Jonah’s like Swashbuckler (walk the plank).
Here, in 1986, director Roman Polanski (under the influence of something other than a plan) lavished $40,000,000 on 112 minutes that lumbers like an in-joke told by a drunk at a party where you don’t know anyone and the music stinks. A truly beautiful set is the highlight, a full-scale sailing ship, but otherwise the pacing moves at about three knots, there is a mixture of mean humor and considerable violence and you can count yourself lucky you weren’t one of the people who paid full price to see it. It still sank like an anchor, making only $6,342,000, after drawing a blend of yawns and snarls from reviewers.
No feather in the cap of Walter Matthau, try as he might to keep his broad English accent on board. Shot in Tunisia, with Cris Campion, Charlotte Lewis, Roy Kinnear, Ferdy Mayne and Emilio Fernandez. Oscar nominated for Costume Design. Another twenty years and Johnny Depp’s ‘Captain Jack’ would do it up right and dandy.