Thursday, October 23, 2008

Top Ten Pirate Movies

As promised.

10. Dodgeball (2004)

I know, I know. I'm starting off with a cheat. But the only reason that Dodgeball is this low on the list is that it isn't really about pirates. It's just about one, awesome pirate named Steve played by Wash from Firefly. That's good enough to bump it above most "real" pirate flicks. Garrr!

9. Blackbeard's Ghost (1968)

I've got no objectivity when it comes to Peter Ustinov's Blackbeard trying to help Dean Jones and a bunch of old ladies save an ancient, pirate-themed inn from being destroyed by crooked landlords. This was one of my favorite childhood movies, but it does hold up fairly well. There's lots of goofy slapstick and Ustinov is thoroughly charming. And Disney doesn't spare any expense on the awesome, old, pirate inn.

8. Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd (1952)

Dude, it's Abbott and Costello. That's all you really need to know. And Charles Laughton is surprisingly hilarious reprising his role from the much less fun Captain Kidd. Anyone who can hold his own against Lou Costello deserves some recognition. It's too bad it's not available on DVD.

7. Tie: Disney's Peter Pan (1953)/Peter Pan (2003)

If I really had to pick between the two I'd choose Disney's version because it's awesome and it defines Peter Pan for so many people. But man, you can't ignore Jason Isaacs as Captain Hook. You just can't.

6. Treasure Planet (2002)

I don't care what everyone says about this being the movie that killed traditional animation at Disney for a while. It wasn't because Treasure Planet was bad, it was because Disney had been releasing too much stuff and folks were just getting tired of it. Treasure Planet is actually an awesome, well-designed, faithful adaptation of Treasure Island. Or as faithful as it can be and still be set in outer space. It got a raw deal is all I'm saying.

5. The Phantom (1996)

This might be another cheat, but the Singh Brotherhood are undeniably pirates - and very piratey pirates at that - so I'm counting it (even if it is impossible to find pictures of the pirates online). This is another movie that gets a bum rap by people who have no souls. It's better than every Indiana Jones movie except Raiders of the Lost Ark. I seriously don't get the negative reputation.

4. The Princess Bride (1987)

At last one we can all agree on. Cary Elwes held onto the title of World's Coolest Pirate for a nice, long time and there's no dishonor in having it taken away by Johnny Freakin Depp.

3. Treasure Island (1950)

Classic. Robert Newton's Long John Silver defined the word "pirate" for everyone who came after him.

2. Captain Blood (1935)

Of course, Errol Flynn defined "pirate" for everyone who came before Newton. Newton may be more influential over the popular perception of pirates, but Flynn's a lot more fun (and that's saying something, because Newton is fun). Plus, Flynn gets to smooch Olivia de Haviland.

1. Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy (2003-2007)

They took everything I ever loved about pirates and sea adventures and rolled it all into three awesome films. Sure, it would've been cool if they'd added another hour to At World's End and shown some other stuff I wanted to see, but they more than made up for it, all things considered.


Anonymous said...


No Captain Ron?!!

Christopher Mills said...

I agree with you that TREASURE PLANET and THE PHANTOM don't deserve their poor reputations; I'm a fan of both.


Siskoid said...



Michael May said...

I let my distrust of Martin Short comedies trump my love of Kurt Russell tough-guy roles. I'm not sure I've even seen CAPTAIN RON all the way through.

I really do need to see ICE PIRATES though. I skipped it in the '80s because I thought I would be disappointed in its not being STAR WARS, but I should've watched it by now just to enjoy the cheese. Besides, Robert Urich rules.

Not I that I expect I would've listed it above DODGEBALL though. :)

As for Chris' suggestions, most of them I haven't seen yet and need to. THE ISLAND is at the top of that list, but CRIMSON PIRATE, AGAINST ALL FLAGS, CAPTAIN PIRATE, and DOUBLE CROSSBONES are also now on my radar. So, thanks!

NATE AND HAYES probably should've been on my list though. It's been forever since I saw it, but I remember loving it. I left it off because I couldn't remember if it was specifically about pirates or some other group of swashbucklers, but it's got to be at least as piratey as DODGEBALL. :)

It's also been ages since I saw YELLOWBEARD, but my memory is that it should've been a lot funnier than it is with the cast it has.

THE SEA HAWK is awesome, but I like CAPTAIN BLOOD better and decided to let it represent Errol Flynn. Still, you're right that THE SEA HAWK is a better movie than a couple of the others I mentioned.

THE BLACK SWAN though, I honestly don't care for a lot. It's got a great cast and is so lavish, but as much as I love Tyrone Power, I really don't care for the character of Jamie Boy. He's selfish and insecure and he doesn't really grow out of it during the story.

Also, I'm a huge George Sanders fan, but Leech doesn't do a thing for me. I don't understand why he doesn't, but he doesn't. I've been blaming his hair, but that might not really be it.

I'm also not a big Maureen O'Hara fan. It's not fair, but I can never forgive her for not being Maureen O'Sullivan.

Anonymous said...

"I let my distrust of Martin Short comedies trump my love of Kurt Russell tough-guy roles."

LOL...can't fault you there. I actually just started catching it here and there via cable over the last few years.

The main appeal is that it's Kurt back in eyepatch, but with his 'lovable scumbag' persona from Overboard (or even Jack Burton).

Btw, here's a pretty comprehensive list of pirate movies you may enjoy:

Tanner said...

I love The Phantom, too. But I can't believe you omitted the grand-daddy of all pirate movies, Douglas Fairbanks's The Black Pirate! If you haven't seen it, make it a must. Not only did it really kick-start the genre, but it PERFECTED it at the same time! It's got everything you could ever want from a pirate movie. (Well, except sound, I guess. But it IS in color! Beautiful, beautiful two-strip Technicolor. It's always weird for me to think that color came before sound.)

At least one of the Hammer pirate movies would have made my list, too (despite their general lack of ocean), probably Captain Clegg.

Great post, though... and certainly debate-provoking! Thanks.

Michael May said...

I've never seen the Hammer ones. One of these days I'm going to have to set aside time for a massive Hammer marathon including the horror movies.

I think I need to see THE BLACK PIRATE again. I don't remember being thrilled with it, but maybe I wasn't in the right mood to enjoy it properly. I love silent film, but I sometimes get impatient with it if I'm feeling lazy.


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