For some reason, the pirate movie has never been as profilic as, say, war movies, or movies with knights, or even movies about racing. Which is kind of weird, since it's one of the big childhood fantasies (at least for little boys), to one day be a pirate! It's not for nothing that Johnny Depp immediately agreed to star in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, as soon as he heard the words 'we want you in our pirate movie'. But if you ask people for their five favorite pirate movies, they will probably be able to name two or three, and then be stumped. Maybe it has to do with the fact that so many people have such vivid childhood dreams of being a pirate, that any movie about the subject could only be a disappointment. Or maybe it's the fact that in most pirate movies that were released, they are not much more than a stereotype, drinking rum and running around with their eye patches and their stripey shirts. Still, dig a bit deeper in movie history, and you'll be able to find some true gems.
No, not a true gem, this one, but also not as bad as it reputation suggests. Sure, it was a massive disappointment when it was released, but that had more to do with the insane expectations than with the quality of the movie itself. Still, this movie about Peter Pan growing up was a bit too serious for it's own good, and didn't come with enough fun. Not even Robin Williams and a great Dustin Hoffman could save the movie from that.
9. Treasure Island
The Treasure Island movie from 1950 is the quintessential film that most people think of when they hear the words pirate movie. It's based on one of the most famous pirate stories ever, and was reused in numerous other movies. And you'll have to admit, this movie about a little boy who accidentally gets mixed up with a rowdy bunch of pirates, led by the legendary pirate captain Long John Silver, is still a very fun diversion after all these years.
8. Black Swan
This movie about the notorious pirate captain Henry Morgan tells the type of story the genre is famous for. Pirate captain kidnaps a woman, falls in love with her and either ends his wild ways to settle down, or convinces him and his band of jolly rascals in scouring the seven seas. Still, since this movie is from 1942 and thus one of the first movies in this type, you shouldn't complain. It's rather well made too!
7. Treasure Planet
With this animated movie, Disney tried updating the original story by bringing it into the future, but didn't completely succeed. It's a very spectacular picture, no doubt, but it was too complicated, with too many different characters, for most people to even want to try it out in the theaters, meaning it ended up as Disney's biggest animated flop ever, showing once again that at that time, the pirate genre was as dead as the Dead Sea.
6. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
As tends to happen with sequels, this one didn't come close to the original. That is not to so it wasn't a fun movie, on the contrary! It has some amazing scenes, and another star turn from Johnny Depp as the pirate captain Jack Sparrow (helped greatly by a brilliant cast), but is also too long and too confusing at times. It feels too much like a sequel that was only an afterthought when the original movie became such a success, no matter what the producers of the movie try to tell you. Still, it's rollicking fun if you don't take it too seriously.
5. The Crimson Pirate
Another early pirate movie that embodies what you expect from a pirate movie. A brave captain (played by Burt Lancaster), a trusty sidekick (Nick Cravat). a beautiful lady (Eva Bartok), a mutiny and a lot of buckleswashing. Still, it had some original elements, most of all in a scientist who came up with all sorts of outrageous weapons for the pirates.
4. Sea Hawk
Errol Flynn is probably tied with Johnny Depp when it comes to the actor who best portrayed a pirate. But while Depp's pirate is a little bit, how shall we say, loopy, Flynn's pirates were always of the noble, dashing variety. Like in this 1940 movie, where he decides to help England in their battle with Spain. Brenda Marshall was the requisite pretty lady.
3. Peter Pan
There is probably no pirate as recognisable as Captain Hook. Thanks to the talented artists at Walt Disney's animation studio, he was given a memorable appearance that would stick in people's minds forever after they saw the movie as a kid. Then again, this whole movie is memorable, and it's still one of my favorite traditionally animated Disney movies ever. Great characters, wonderful little bits of inventiveness, great music and one of their coolest heroines in the little fairy Tinkerbell.
2. Captain Blood
An enslaved doctor and his friends escape from slavery, and decide to become pirates, choosing to emulate the style of Robin Hood. Since the lead in this movie is played by the man who also played the most memorable Robin Hood ever, Errol Flynn, you just know this movie has to be great. Olivia de Havilland is equally magnificent in the female lead, and this movie has so many rousing scenes that it made any boy who watched it want to become a pirate instantly, even many years after it was released.
1. Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl
When I had come to the conclusion that the first Pirates of the Caribbean would be number one in this list, I was a little worried that it would be considered the wrong choice. After all, it's a very recent movie compared to some of the other movies in the list, and it's luster is being clouded the tiniest of bits by it's sequels, which are fun but not of the same league as the original. But then I thought, if you just look at this movie by itself, it's a fantastic, beautifully crafted adventure movie, with so many wonderful characters and hilarious situations, that it simply deserves to be in the top spot. A quick peek at the IMDB reveals that other movie fans agree, as Pirates is 0.1 points above Captain Blood. This is that rare type of movie you can watch over and over again and will only start to appreciate it more, and it's no wonder why Johnny Depp had so much fun with these movies that he has decided he wants to make even more. The singular pirate classic!