Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Talk Like A Pirate Day!

Ahoy there, mateys!

As September 19th be International Talk Like A Pirate Day and as September be a bit light on holidays,  yer Holiday Film Reviews crew wishes to sharrrre some piratical viewing recommendations with ye.

What be this "Talk Like A Pirate Day", ye ask?    It be a parodic holiday created in a spirit of fun and romantical notions of piracy by two friends who declared that September 19th should henceforward become a day when everyone in the world should talk like a pirate.    It caught on with folks and has been observed by many since 2002.  Information on how to speak pirate is available from the Official Talk Like A Pirate Day site and many other places around the web, savvy?  

In the spirit of the day,  here be some excellent viewing options for ye!

Treasure Island (1950) 

The Walt Disney Company's first entirely live action film based on the 1883 book of the same name by Robert Louis Stevenson,  this version starts Robert Newton as Long John Silver and Bobby Driscoll as Jim Hawkins.

Fun facts:
* Newton's performance as Long John Silver is so iconic that it's thought by many to be the basis for our "arrrr!"-based pirate patois.
*  Treasure Island was one of the first Disney movies to be shown on television,  its first telecast was in 1955.

The Pirates of Penzance (1983)

This is a film adaptation of the Gilbert and Sullivan comic operetta.  The story concerns a young lad named Frederic (Rex Smith) who has just been released (he thinks) from his apprenticeship with a band of tender-hearted pirates.  Frederic promptly falls in love with a young lady named Mabel (Linda Ronstadt).  However, the Pirate King (Kevin Kline) and Frederic's old nurse Ruth (Angela Lansbury) discover that due to a clerical error having to do with Frederic's birthday occurring on February 29th,  he may still be on the hook for his indenture, thereby imperiling Frederic and Mabel's future.   It's brilliant, silly fun!

Fun facts:
*  Kevin Kline won the 1981 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his portrayal of the Pirate King on Broadway the preceding year and memorably reprises his role in the movie version.
*  The Broadway production began its run as part of the 1980 Shakespeare in the Park season before transferring to Broadway and thence to film.  This production and the film feature a Gilbert and Sullivan song from another of their operettas (the patter song "My Eyes Are Fully Open" from Ruddigoreinterpolated into the show.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) 

In this fantasy swashbuckler (based on the Disney amusement park attraction),  young Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and the eccentric Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) must rescue Will's love,  Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) from Sparrow's former colleague Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) and his undead crew of miscreants.  This is quite a fun adventure film due to great production values and a top-notch cast.

Fun facts:
* The film was so successful (it's the 12th highest grossing franchise of all time according to imdb) that Disneyland and Disney World updated their Pirates of the Caribbean attractions to feature animatronics of Jack Sparrow and Barbossa in the storyline.
* Pirates of the Caribbean  put an end to the "Pirate movie curse" that was believed to have been in effect since the mid-1970s, when movies like Swashbuckler (1976), Yellowbeard (1983), Waterworld (1995) and Cutthroat Island (1995) all severely under-performed.   Media expectations for the movie were understandably low, but the film became a world-wide artistic and commercial success.  There have been four sequels.

The Pirates! :  Band of Misfits (2012) 

In this stop motion and computer animated offering from Aardman Animations, Pirate Captain (Hugh Grant) and his ragtag crew set out on a mission to win the coveted Pirate of the Year Award and show up their rivals Black Bellamy (Jeremy Piven) and Cutlass Liz (Salma Hayeck) .  Their adventures range from the shores of Blood Island to the streets of Victorian London and feature an encounter with Charles Darwin (David Tennant), who wants to steal the pirates' pet dodo (the last living example of its species) so that he can impress Queen Victoria (Imelda Staunton).  As one might expect from Aardman (who brought us Chicken Run and Wallace & Gromit, among other things), it is gloriously goofy!

Fun facts:
* The original title was The Pirates! an Adventure with Scientists!  (and it was released under this title in the UK and elsewhere), but it was changed to The Pirates!  Band of Misfits when it was released in the U.S.
*  As of 2016, the film is the fourth highest grossing stop motion animated film of all time.

Have we missed any of your favorites?   Share your favorite pirate movies in the comments!

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