A girl is engaged to the local rich man, but meanwhile she has dreams about the legendary pirate Macoco. A traveling singer falls in love with her and to impress her he poses as the pirate.
Judy Garland ... Manuela
Gene Kelly ... Serafin
Walter Slezak ... Don Pedro Vargas
Gladys Cooper ... Aunt Inez
Reginald Owen ... The Advocate
George Zucco ... The Viceroy
They certainly don't make movies like this one anymore! "The Pirate" shows how MGM dominated the musical genre with stars of the magnitude of Gene Kelly and Judy Garland under Vincente Minnelli's direction, and music by Cole Porter.
The story is just a pretext to present the stars doing what they did best. The film is totally dominated by Gene Kelly, who makes a wonderful contribution to the film as Serafin, an itinerant entertainer who happens to be in Calvados, the Caribbean, a fictional island where the beautiful Manuela is about to get married to a powerful man, Don Pedro Vargas.
After being pursued by Serafin, Manuela's resolve to marry the much older, fatter, and uglier, Don Pedro, is reduced to seeing the would be husband by what he really is, a bully and a man who she will never bring herself to love. The revelations at the end and the happy conclusion gives the film a great finale.
Gene Kelly and Judy Garland were at the peak of their careers. Ms. Garland looks so beautiful in the film and she makes an adorable Manuela. Mr. Kelly gives an excellent performance as the song and dance man who can put people in a trance as he hypnotizes them. The musical numbers in which Mr. Kelly dances are superbly staged.
The supporting players are a delight. Gladys Cooper, makes a great Aunt Inez. Walter Slezak is perfect as Don Pedro, a man who hides deeply rooted secrets. Reginald Owen and George Zucco are also seen. Best of all are the Nicholas Brothers who were amazing in their number.
The glorious Technicolor utilized in the film has kept its luster as it has aged gloriously.
* Gene Kelly fought to get The Nicholas Brothers (Fayard Nicholas and Harold Nicholas) included in the movie.
* When one dance sequence was being rehearsed, Harold Nicholas was just going through the motions, and Gene Kelly accused him of not knowing the routine - so Nicholas danced the whole routine, alone, full-out and flawlessly. Kelly was speechless.
* The "Be a Clown" sequence was cut by exhibitors in Memphis and other U.S. cities in the South because it included The Nicholas Brothers, who were black.
* Judy Garland missed 99 of the 135 shooting days due to illness.
* The film was a major financial bust upon release, eventually losing $2 million for MGM.
* Gene Kelly helped invent a device which allowed the bulky Technicolor cameras to shoot from low angles.
* At one time this movie was going to star Cary Grant and Greer Garson. When that project fell through it was turned into a musical.
* Cole Porter was asked to write the songs for the movie, and he did on condition that he could change the name of the Pirate (who was named Estramundo in the play) to Macoco - the name of a friend of Porter's whose nickname was Mack the Black.
* The torrid romance enacted by Judy Garland and Gene Kelly in the song-and-dance number "Voodoo" so enraged MGM chief Louis B. Mayer that he demanded the negative be burned.
* The original script by Anita Loos and Joseph Than included a role for Lena Horne as a Caribbean dressmaker, which was later cut.