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I Bet You Didn’t See… Blackbeard the Pirate

Contains Spoilaaaaars!!!

This is the film that portray the “Aaarrr!” in cinematic, swashbuckling Piracy for the next 60 years. Robert Newton, a Dorset-born actor who had a strong accent already, exaggerated it to bring the insane and eccentric Edward Teach, the infamous Blackbeard, to life.

Blackbeard: “What be your name, girl?”
Edwina (shocked): “Blackbeard!”
Blackbeard: “No, I be Blackbeard!”

The film follows Robert Maynard (Keith Andes) who is a spy trying to prove that Captain Bellamy and Sir Henry Morgan (Torin Thatcher) are in league with each other, which is a bad thing because Bellamy was a pirate and Morgan was supposed to be a privateer fighting the pirates. Maynard allows himself to be taken aboard Bellamy’s ship, which has been captured by Blackbeard. We then follow Maynard trying to bring Blackbeard down, Edwina Mansfield (Linda Darnell) trying to escape Blackbeard to be with Morgan and Blackbeard trying to keep his ship under his control.

Edwina (Darnell) and Maynard (Andes)

This is a classic Hollywood “swashbuckler” film, with the brilliant features of:

· Everyone is clean and tidy, even after battles and days in rough situations.

· Edwina Mansfield is always perfectly made up, always has a new dress, and doesn’t look the slightest bit dishevelled at any point.

· The villains have the accents and the heroes are well spoken.

· Ripped clothing is always neatly torn in the same places for everyone.

· Blackbeard is beaten with swords but continues to fight unharmed.

I have no issues with these continuity ‘mishaps’ because of the age of the film. They just make the film that more entertaining. It’s a wonderful piece that highlights Hollywood in its ‘Golden Age’. Production was started in May of 1952 and it was released that Christmas, so it goes to show the difference in production techniques and levels compared with today!

No parrot, but plenty of 'Arrr' about Robert Newton!

Watching it now, having done my own research into the ‘Golden Age of Piracy’ and finding out more of what Edward ‘Blackbeard’ Teach was life makes Blackbeard the Pirate more of a golden Hollywood epic. The history of piracy was still relatively unknown in the 1950’s and what was believed has turned out to be myth and legend (although Blackbeard’s body swimming three times around the ship after he was beheaded is still held in high regard in his legend).

It’s worth a watch, and good fun. Robert Newton died four years after Blackbeard the Pirate but this stands at the peak of his legacy in film. It’ll make you chuckle, but you’ll enjoy how it has aged.

“On your way, now. And tell the world you set sail with Blackbeard.” - Blackbeard

Directed by: Raoul Walsh

Written by: DeVallon Scott

Screenplay by: Alan Le May

Starring: Robert Newton, Linda Darnell, William Bendix, Keith Andes, Torin Thatcher

Released: December 24th, 1952

My Rating: 5/10

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