THE BLACK SWAN, 1942
Starring: Tyrone Power, Maureen O'Hara, Anthony Quinn, Thomas Mitchell, George Sanders
When notorious pirate Henry Morgan is made governor of Jamaica, he enlists the help of some of his former partners in ridding the Carribean of Buccaneers. When one of them apparently abducts the previous governor's pretty daughter and joins up with the rebels, things are set for a fight.
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I remember reading Treasure Island when I was growing up, going to the Pirates of the Carribean ride in Disney's Magic Kingdom. The world of pirates just fascinated me to no end. I remember wanting nothing more than a movie that'll bring back that sense of swashbuckling adventure I got when I was a kid reading Robert Louis Stevenson's classic.
While the Pirates of the Carribean Trilogy were great films in their own way, something just wasn't there. Something was missing that I just couldn't put my finger on. Luckily for me, my search for that perfect swashbuckling adventure has finally come to an end. Little did I know it would be a film that was made 67 years ago.
The Black Swan, starring Tyrone Power, Maureen O'Hara, Laird Cregar, George Sanders, and Anthony Quinn was that film. Directed by Henry King, The Black Swan tells the tale of newly appointed governor of Jamaica and former notorious pirate captain, Henry Morgan (Cregar) moving to end piracy in the Carribean. To do this, he enlists the help of former partners, one of them being trusted friend Jamie Waring (Power).
Tyrone Power's performance as Jamie Waring is the main driving force of the film, though there is still plenty to love. However, it would be impossible to continue with this review without first addressing his performance. Jamie Waring, is everything we picture an anti-hero to be. He's vile, abusive toward women, yet we can't help but root for him to woo the heart of the governess, Lady Margaret Denby (O'Hara).
There is a subtle charm about Waring that continues to chip away at Margaret's suit of armor. He's strong with her, physically imposing his will when she becomes defiant toward his advances. Yet he has moments of charm and tenderness when she least expects it from him.
The film is just beautifully shot. The vibrant colors of the costumes, fight scenes are expertly coreographed, the vistas when at sea and the set design are all top notch. It was nominated for 3 Academy Awards (Cinematography, Special Effects, and Musical Score), winning 1 for best Cinematography.
The Black Swan also balances humor, adventure, and suspense flawlessly. It's one of those films that make you smile the moment it starts, and finds a way to keep that smile on your face until the end credits. I just felt that sensation of wonder and fascination watching The Black Swan, I did reading Treasure Island. Films today are aimed at wowing your senses, but not in capturing your imagination. It's a class of film that steadily becoming a dying breed.
I was asked once, to sum this film up in one word. I will do so again for this review, without any reservations what-so-ever. That word is...Timeless.