The Black Pirate is a 1926 adventure silent film shot entirely in two-strip Technicolor about an adventurer and a "company" of pirates. It stars Douglas Fairbanks, Donald Crisp, Sam De Grasse, and Billie Dove.
While the pirates make merry with their spoil, the two sole survivors wash up on an island, an old man and his son. Before dying, he gives his signet ring to his son. His son then carries him inland and buries him. Meanwhile, the captain and some of his closer lieutenants have been making toward the same island with "the richest part of the treasure". While they occupy themselves with taking the treasure to a well used cavern beneath a pond, the survivor carves out a declaration on a piece of driftwood: "MY FATHER I SOLEMNLY VOW TO BRING THY MURDERERS TO JUSTICE".
During the burial of the treasure, the captain suggestively counts off the other members of the party to his lieutenant and lays out 5 pistols — one per man. As the two of them prepare to fire on the remainder of the unsuspecting men, their attention is arrested by the appearance of the adventurer from over a ridge. They quickly prepare to meet him as he draws nearer. As one menacingly approaches him with a dirk, he calls a halt, stating his intent to join their Company of pirates.
At this one of the pirates, MacTavish, approaches him and asks him of his "qualeefeecations". He responds by asking who their best fighter is, a distinction all defer to the captain. He walks determinedly to him and in response to a contemptuous appraisal, slaps him. At this insult, the captain draws a dirk and cutlass, our adventurer snatches a cutlass from the ground and a swipes a dirk from another pirate, and they go at each other.
Fairbanks spent considerable money on color tests before making "Pirate." Two-color Technicolor at that time required two strips of 35 mm film to be fused together to create the two-color palette, and it was difficult to keep the film in focus during projection. (Later two-color films required only a single strip of film.)
Billie Dove, Fairbanks's co-star, had appeared in a two-color feature the year before. Fairbanks was so impressed with the way she photographed that he used her in The Black Pirate.
The script was adapted by Jack Cunningham from a story by Fairbanks, who used his middle names "Elton Thomas" as a pseudonym. The film was directed by Albert Parker and has been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.
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