Saturday, July 31, 2010

Swashbuckler 1976 A Movie A Day Day 60

OK, a second day in a row on the ocean with the great Robert Shaw. Amanda took a class on the films of Steven Spielberg last year, and her professor said that after making Jaws, Spielberg wanted to make a pirate movie with Robert Shaw. It turned out that he was already making this pirate movie so Spielberg waited 15 more years and made Hook, part pirate part kids movie. If you have ever seen Hook, you know it is a great looking movie but it moves like an elephant and feels like a musical without the songs. A pirate movie needs to be lively, quick and have a great sense of adventure to it, for the most part this movie accomplishes those objectives.

Shaw looks great in his red outfit, swinging from the mast to rescue his buddy in the opening scene. His pirate partner is none other then Darth Vader himself, the terrific James Earl Jones. The movie opens with Jones about to be hung and his pirate buddies coming to the rescue and shooting their cannons at the whole fort. They didn't waste time setting this up, it is as if we stepped into the story as is is actually going along. The only thing wrong with the opening is that Beau Bridges is overplaying the comedic role and seems not to be in on the fun. You know it is a lighthearted movie when the military man after the pirates is called Major Folly. He reoccurs in several places and there is just the same sort of edge to his performance. It does not seem relaxed and confident, it comes across as shrill and a bit annoying. Other than that I have no complaints about the picture.

A couple of things I had always remembered from the movie were how Peter Boyle, the evil Governor of Jamaica was having his back waxed as he lays out one of his plots. I always thought it was a little disgusting, especially when we see the dirt in the wax cast pulled off of his back. The other item I remember, was that he had a lute playing boyfriend that he is in the tub with at one point. This guy had some long claws that he would put on to torture a victim, and they turned out to be his undoing in the end. Boyle seems like an odd choice to be playing this part, he has a very modern voice and his eyes are a little out of whack, so I'm not sure it is the best choice in the world, but he plays the part oozing menace to everyone around him. There is no charm in him as a villain but there is plenty of hate that we build up and we are ready to see him vanquished.

A couple of other casting notes, Angelica Huston is cast as the villains female love interest and she is billed as Woman of Dark Visage. She has no name and she also has no lines, same as the boyfriend. I thought it was interesting that opposite Shaw was Genvieve Bujold, who played Anne Boleyn in "Anne of a 1000 Days" for which she received an Academy Award nomination. Two years before her nomination, Shaw had been nominated for an Academy Award for playing Henry VIII in "A Man for All Seasons". So in a way they were cast together again in this film, although they actually were in different movies. Geoffry Holder, know as Baron Samedi in the James Bond film, "Live and Let Die" also appears as a knife throwing pirate. People of my generation will remember him from the Uncola ads for 7Up in the 1970's. He also has a terrific voice, and works a lot like James Earl Jones doing voice-work. It is great to see them on screen and together here.

Dee and I saw this movie in Cerritos, the year it came out. We had really just begun dating seriously, so it might be one of the first movies I ever took her to. I'm not sure if she liked it as well as I did, but if she did not, she has kept it hidden for a long time. Amanda is a Robert Shaw completist, so she is looking for all of his movies. We watched this a year or so ago when it came in the mail and she seemed to like it. Today she was a little distracted as we all are since Dee and I are leaving for Alaska and we have a lot to do. I wanted to get this one last blog post in before I take a week off. Amanda will be updating you for the next few days so enjoy.

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