review for Dancing Pirate on AllMovie

Dancing Pirate (1936)
by Craig Butler review

Fans of early film musicals will want to seek out Dancing Pirate, a curiosity that will have more limited interest to other viewers. Pirate is only a middling film, which is a disappointment considering it boasts a score by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. Unfortunately, the normally inventive and classy songwriting duo came up with a truncated score that is only so-so, including the would-be big ballad "Are You My Love?" One gets the feeling that Rodgers & Hart weren't particularly interested in this assignment and were simply going through the motions to fulfill a contractual obligation. As for the story, it's a great load of nonsense -- not unusual for a musical of the day, but this story is even thinner (and more implausible) than most. It also lacks enough memorable dialogue; there are a few exchanges that score, but not enough to make up for the other deficiencies in the script. What makes Pirate worth viewing for musical fans is the presence of Charles Collins in the starring role. An excellent dancer with an agreeable personality, Collins makes the most of every opportunity to dance that he is given, and his work here is quite memorable. He has grace and style and plenty of technique; what he lacks is real star power. Had he possessed that, he might have given Fred Astaire a little competition at the time, though he is not the actor Astaire was and can't handle a song with the same flair that Astaire did. Still, Collins is more than engaging, and it's a shame he didn't have a career in films.