Failed singer Marian Washburn confesses she shot her friend, successful singer Susan Caldwell, but her manager Luke Jordan and Detective Fowler doubt her story and cannot establish a reasonable motive.
Laurent van Horn is the leader of a band of Dutch refugees on a ship seeking freedom in the Carolinas, when the ship is wrecked on the coast of Cartagene, governed by Don Juan Alvardo, Spainish ruler. Alvarado has Laurent thrown in prison, but the latter escapes, and five-years later is a pirate leader. He poses as the navigator on a ship in which Contessa Francesca, daughter of a Mexican noble, is traveling on her way to marry Alvarado, whom she has never seen. Laurent's pirates capture the ship and Francesca, in order to save another ship, gives her hand-in-marriage to Laurent, who sails her to the pirate hideout. This irks the jealous Anne Bonney and, also, Captain Benjamin Black, who was already irked, anyway. They overpower Laurent and send Francesca to Alvarado, and then Mario du Billar, trusted right-hand man, makes a deal to deliver Laurent to Alvarado too.Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
This film was re-released by RKO as a combination package with "Badman's Territory". Exhibitors could book either film as a singer or both as a double-feature, with combo newspaper ads. See more »
Capt. Laurent Van Horn:
Consider yourselves not so much my prisoners, but my honored guests. It would please me if you were to recommend my piracy to your friends when you return home.
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Opening credits prologue: The Spanish Main--cruel, oppressive and ruthless, where power alone was a man's single title to everything he held dear, including his very life. It was, thus, a cruel fate that a peaceful Dutch pilgrim ship should be driven there by torrential waves--and crash upon the rocks immediately outside Cartagena, its most remorseless citadel. See more »
I had foolishly missed out quite recently on this one on late-night Italian TV and, consequently, was very glad now to get acquainted with it (albeit via a slightly washed-out print on DivX) – especially since I was surprised by its quality, making the film an underrated entry in the swashbuckling genre. Borzage was an unusual choice for this type of film – despite being a distinguished Oscar-winning director, he has become with time a largely forgotten figure but his reputation has deservedly soared of late among film connoisseurs and is now generally comparable to that of Douglas Sirk. To be sure, he is more renowned for movies like THREE COMRADES (1938) and THE MORTAL STORM (1940) rather than fluff pieces like THE Spanish MAIN, but that only goes to show how versatile he was, equally capable of handling personal projects and genre pictures.
Equally unlikely was the film’s choice of leading man: Paul Henreid, playing an honest man who turns buccaneer in the face of injustice, his character is similar to that of Captain Blood (in spite of an obvious lack of emphasis on the actor’s agility) but also to Henried’s signature role of French Resistance leader Victor Laszlo in CASABLANCA (1942). This alone makes it interesting viewing but, thankfully, they’re supported by solid talent on both sides of the camera (the actors – Maureen O’Hara in her prime, an unusually but effectively cast Binnie Barnes as a hardened lady buccaneer and O’Hara’s romantic rival, splendid villainy from Walter Slezak, John Emery and Barton MacLane being equally dastardly, J.M. Kerrigan, Curt Bois and Mike Mazurki as Henreid’s sidekicks, a script co-written by CITIZEN KANE ’s Herman J. Mankiewicz, magnificent color photography by George Barnes, etc).
While the plot offers no real surprise or undue complexity – coming at the tail-end of WWII, it must have provided just the right dose of escapism – it’s professionally-handled entertainment (at which Hollywood excelled during its golden age) of the kind ‘they don’t make anymore’…despite the best intentions of today’s exponents!
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