The Black Pirate (1926)
Genre: Silent Action Adventure
Directed By: Albert Parker
Overview: This is the story of a sole survivor of a pirate attack who seeks vengeance by joining a the crew of the ship that killed his men, including his father.
Acting: Douglas Fairbanks is the kind of action hero that's larger than life, and his dramatic poses are without peer, but regardless of the fact that he's a legend by his own right, the overall performances of his cast were either lacking in overzealous melodrama, or reeked of it in a bad way.
Cinematography: The stunts in this one include the classic 'pirate cutting a sail and riding down it with only his knife'. There's great sword fights, swinging from ropes, explosions, and a scene where our hero captures a ship singlehandedly, all the stuff that you would expect from a good-ol' pirate movie. The stunts were good, but there was really something lacking in the camerawork.
Script: There's a lot of "Argh, ye salty Sea-Wolves!" and a smattering of Thees and Thines, so that's a nice touch. The hero's plans and their disruptions genuinely add a nice element of depth. Without this script the story would have been lacking on yet another level. Sadly the words could not hold up the film.
Plot: This had the promise of greatness. All the necessary elements were there, but it's a sign of the times when nothing more has been done than 'Guy wants to get even', 'Guy sets up a plot to get even', 'Guy gets even', and throw in a girl and a villain. It might be a compliment to say that this was one of the first and the formula stuck all this time, but to me, it has all been done many times since.
Mood: Take a movie and fill it with stereotypes and you'll end up with something very predictable. Remember that doing this for the first time makes you original. Sadly, this film does not have the staying power of the ages that other silents do, because it's such typical stuff that it's been run aground.
Overall Rating: 56% (YARRRRGH!)
Aftertaste: With a sentiment almost identical to The Iron Mask, I found that Douglas Fairbanks, though a stunty and impressive man, just had no story to back up his adventure. As routine 'show-off then get the girl' stories go, this is probably the one that set the standard, because I've seen the same thing probably 20 times before. I'm sure your great-grandpa loved this movie. He'd have been right to. There were a lot less movies back then.