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Thursday, 9 August 2012

The Pirate (1948) - Star of the month... Gene Kelly

"Don't call me pure soul... It irritates me!" - Judy Garland (as Manuela Alva in 'The Pirate')

'The Pirate' is a 1948 MGM musical directed by Vincente Minelli and starring Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, Gladys Cooper, Walter Slezak, Gladys Cooper, Reginald Owen, George Zucco and the Nicholas Brothers. The film's screenplay was written by Frances Goodrich, based on the 1942 play by S.N. Behrman, and features original Cole Porter songs.

Watch the trailer:

Manuela Alva (played by Garland) is infatuated with the legemdary pirate, Mack "the Black" Macoco. Meanwhile, her Aunt Inez (played by Cooper) has just arranged Manuela's marriage to the town mayor, Don Pedro (played by Slezak).   Serafin (played by Kelly) is a travelling performer, and after shortly after meeting Manuela, pretends to be Mack "the Black" Macoco in an attempt to win her affections. Things are complicated once Serafin (believed to be Macoco) is arrested and sentenced for executed.

Clip - Watch my favourite scene from the film... Manuela goes crazy!

Musical program

The film features a number of Cole Porter songs, written especially for the film.

These include:
Gene Kelly & the Nicholas Brothers
  • Opening Titles: Mack the Black - MGM Chorus
  • Nina - Gene Kelly
  • Mack the Black - Gene Kelly
  • You Can Do No Wrong - Judy Garland
  • The Pirate Ballet - Gene Kelly
  • Be A Clown - Gene Kelly (with the Nicholas Brothers)
  • Love Of My Life - Judy Garland
  • Be A Clown (Reprise) - Gene Kelly & Judy Garland

Song: "Be A Clown" (Reprise) - Gene Kelly & Judy Garland

Song: "Mack the Black" - Judy Garland

Song: "You Can Do No Wrong" - Judy Garland

Song: "Be A Clown" - Gene Kelly (with the Nicholas Brothers)

Song: "The Pirate Ballet" - Gene Kelly

Song: "Nina" - Gene Kelly

Deleted musical numbers

Gene Kelly & Judy Garland in 'Be A Clown'

Three musical sequences were deleted from the final film:
  • 'Mack the Black' was originally a longer song with additional lyrics
  • 'Love of my Life' was originally performed twice in the film - the first rendition was deleted
  • Gene & Judy performed a song called "Voodoo" - the torrid romance in the song outraged MGM boss Louis B. Mayer so much that he demanded the negative be burned... the sequence is still lost today

Did you know...

Judy Garland as Manuela sings "Mack the Black"
  • The "Be A Clown" sequence with the Nicholas Brothers was originally cut from screenings in the American South, such as Memphis, because the Nicholas Brothers were African American performers
  • Gene Kelly fought to have the Nicholas Brothers featured in the film
  • Judy Garland's addiction to prescription drugs caused her to be absent from 99 of the 135 filming days
  • The film lost $2million for MGM due it's box office failure
  • During filming Gene Kelly helped to invent a device which allowed the bulky Technicolor camera to shoot from low angles
  • The film was originally to star Cary Grant & Greer Garson - after these plans fell through it was turned into a musical
  • Cole Porter only agreed to write the songs for this film on the condition the pirates name be changed from Estramundo to Macoco - Macoco was the name of a friend of Porter's who was nicknamed Mack the Black
  • Features the film debut of Lola Albright
  • Lena Horne was originally to star in the film as a Caribbean dressmaker, however the character was cut from the film
  • During the filming of this film Judy Garland smoked four packs of cigarettes a day
  • Judy Garland gives Gene Kelly a spanking
  • This was the second of three films Judy Garland & Gene Kelly filmed together

Award nominations

  • Academy Award nomination for Best Original Music Score

Closing remarks

Gene Kelly in the Pirate Ballet
'The Pirate' is a swashbuckling romantic musical adventure starring MGM's two most iconic stars. The toe-tapping Cole Porter songs are great, the dance sequences brilliant, and Judy and Gene bring down the house.

Gene Kelly's dances are a feast for the eyes and ears, especially the ingenious "Pirate Ballet" sequence. Other musical highlights include Judy's inspiring performance of "Mack the Black" and both versions of "Be A Clown",

Despite it's poor box office failure, 'The Pirate' is a film I like very much. 

With it's lavish costumes and tropical set, 'The Pirate' is a colourful carnival on the Caribbean you're unlikely to forget in a hurry.

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