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Pirates of Tortuga

Directed by Robert D. Webb
Screenplay by Melvin Levy, Jesse L. Lasky, Jr. and Pat Silver
Based on a story by Melvin Levy

Pirates of Tortuga has been released on DVD in order to capitalize on the popularity of sea-faring adventures such as Pirates of the Caribbean and Master and Commander . While the story does contain shipboard swashbuckling, it is really a romance between a ship’s captain and a female pickpocket. A more accurate comparison to the film would be My Fair Lady.

Captain Bart and the crew of the Mermaid have been requested to stop the piracy of former British officer Henry Morgan and his cohorts who have taken over the Caribbean. They have cut off the British subjects on Jamaica from the rest of the Empire, no ships get in or out. After accepting the mission, Bart rounds up his former officers who used to serve with him.

On his way back to the ship, Bart rescues Meg, a female pickpocket, from an angry butcher who was her latest victim. She is very feisty and Bart orders her off the ship. As the crew prepares to leave port, no one notices Meg stowaway. Meg and Bart constantly fight like any couple destined to be together in a Hollywood film. She is sweet on Bart but is angered when he rebuffs her advances. He tells her she isn’t a lady, so for the majority of the time that she remains onboard, crewmembers show her different aspects on how to be a refined woman.

It’s 40 minutes into the film, almost halfway, before the first battle. A ship working for Morgan is tricked into boarding the Mermaid. Bart and his men win the battle, taking all the treasure and sending Morgan’s men back to Tortuga to tell him the King of the Ocean stole his treasure.

In Jamaica, Bart speaks with the island’s governor and tells him that he has a plan to beat Morgan and needs volunteers from the island. The governor is more than willing because there’s a spy who has been tipping off Morgan, leaving the inhabitants helpless. Meg leaves the ship and is knocked out by two muggers. The governor finds her unconscious body in an alley and takes her home. Meg pretends she is a lady in good standing from London and that she has a touch of amnesia. She starts a relationship with the governor.

The film climaxes with a big battle on three fronts: ships against the fort, Jamaican volunteers storming the walls against Morgan’s men and Bart sneaking into to blow up the munitions. As usual from films of this time period, everything gets wrapped up way too nice and neat by some expository dialogue.

Fans of Classic Hollywood spectacles will enjoy this romantic tale. The film is geared towards trying to please couples, a love story for women and an adventure tale for men. There’s plenty of romance, but with there only being two action sequences I didn’t think there was enough for action.

The DVD is bare bones having only the film and some trailers. The disc is full screen on one side and widescreen on the other. The film was shot in Cinemascope so the widescreen is essential to see the aspect ratio is 2.35:1.

About Gordon S. Miller

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as FilmRadar, Film School Rejects, High Def Digest, and Blogcritics. He is the Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at twitter.com/ElBicho_CS

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