For Reel

The Pirate (1948)
May 8, 2016, 10:06 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Vincente Minnelli
4 Stars
The PirateThat The Pirate plays as so desperate and unhinged might have something to do with the fact that its production was troubled with Judy Garland’s ongoing prescription drug addition and her failing relationship with director Vincente Minnelli. But it is also the terrific combination of a flamboyant plot and Gene Kelly’s apparent need to overcompensate—with his showboating and ceaseless flirtation, Kelly gets to play Serafin as something akin to a role that Douglas Fairbanks might have played. It’s both suggestion and even explicit luridness, as with the early “Nina” number that finds Kelly making love with every woman in sight. The film works best when Serafin is backed into a corner by the sexually frustrated Manuela (Judy Garland), whose rambunctious “Mack the Black” has a wild vivacity that one wouldn’t normally associate with Garland (at least not in its sexuality). A later scene wherein Manuela hurls everything she can get her hands on at Serafin goes on a little too long, but summarizes the film’s pleasures as an oddity—it is a spectacle with flashes of truly magnificent brilliance, heightened by the tangible sensation that it can all come crumbling apart at any moment.