Monday, December 31, 2007

The Spanish Main

I was watching the Spanish Main today. It's been years since I last watched it. As pirate movies it goes, it's ok- not painfully bad and not outstanding.

The plot revolves around a Dutch captain, Laurent Van Horn, who is carried into Spanish waters by accident. The unsympathetic (and overweight) viceroy seizes his ship. When next we see Van Horn, he is navigator on a Spanish ship delivering Francesca, the Viceroy's bride. Van Horn flirts with her and earns a whipping. This is only partially carried out when the Spanish ship is attacked by the ship the Barracuda which in turn is captained by a mysterious man also known as the Barracuda. This, of course, turns out to be Van Horn.

He takes Francesca as his share of the profits and eventually marries her. This causes Anne Bonney to get jealous.

Eventually Francesca is delivered back to the Viceroy along with Anne and some other loyal members of the crew who are sentenced to be burnt. It is up to the Barracuda and his remaining crew members to rescue them.

According to the host on TCM, the original script called for a slave uprising and burning the town. RCO couldn't afford this and substituted a more sedate ending.

This is a typical pirate movie from the 1940s. The Spanish are the bad guys and pirates represent freedom and virtue. The Viceroy has no redeeming features. He is fat, lazy, and dishonest. A surprising number of pirates are also dishonest (surprising for a movie).

The ships look good although the captain's cabin is larger than the ship. The costumes are horrible. The acting is fairly good with Maureen O'Hara as Francesca.

One surprising bit of authenticity - you get a glimpse of someone steering with a whipstaff instead of a wheel (the ship's wheel was invented in the 1690s). This is almost unheard of bit of accuracy.

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