Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow Not the Only Weird Movie Pirate
BY DENNIS KING
Johnny Depp’s swaggering, royally daft Captain Jack Sparrow of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” voyages is certainly a quirky and theatrical scoundrel. But no one can accuse his many big-screen pirate predecessors of being shrinking violets either, and a rogue’s gallery of famous movie buccaneers offers up some outlandish scalawags that are every bit Sparrow’s equal in charming villainy.
There’s more to a good movie pirate than parrots, peg legs and eye patches, and the best of them incorporate some unique characteristics that set them apart from the scurvy crowd. For his part, Depp has said he modeled many of Sparrow’s devil-may-care mannerisms on Rolling Stone rocker Keith Richards.
So what distinguishes your favorite movie pirates?
Here are a few of our best-of-the-worst and what makes them special:
Captain Blood (“Captain Blood,” 1935) – Errol Flynn is practically synonymous with the word “swashbuckler.” In this jaunty Technicolor bit of swordplay – from director Michael Curtiz, based on the classic sea-going tale by Raphael Sabatini – Flynn’s wrongly imprisoned doctor turned Robin Hood pirate sets the standard for athletic swagger.
Long John Silver (“Treasure Island,” 1934) – Robert Louis Stevenson’s adventure tale of buried pirate booty was filmed a score and more times, but no one embodied the squinty-eyed charm of the one-legged Long John Silver better than the scurvy Wallace Beery, who lead Jackie Cooper’s young Jim Hawkins astray in Victor Fleming’s classic version of the story.
Mike Fink (“Davey Crockett and the River Pirates,” 1956) – Not all pirates ply their trade on the high seas, as the keelboat marauders of this Walt Disney frontier adventure prove. In burly Mike Fink, self-proclaimed “King of the River,” veteran actor Jeff York showed us a bullyboy pirate who could wield a cudgel as lethally as a saber.
Morgan Adams (“Cutthroat Island,” 1995) – History tells us there were plenty of real-life female pirates – from The Red Lady to Anne Bonney – but in Gina Davis’ buff and sexy Morgan Adams we got a distaff pirate for the age of women’s lib. Under the direction of her then-husband and action maven Renny Harlin, Davis gave us a buff yet distinctly feminine brand of pirate derring-do – call it “swishbuckling.”
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