The Pirates of Capri (1949)

Genres - Action, Adventure  |   Sub-Genres - Swashbuckler  |   Run Time - 94 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Richard Gilliam

Released in 1949, Edgar G. Ulmer's The Pirates of Capri is a tepid rehashing of two of the 1930s best adventure films, Michael Curtiz's Captain Blood and Alexander Korda's The Scarlet Pimpernel. As a filmmaker, Ulmer's strengths were in expressionistic horror (The Black Cat) and film noir (Detour). Here his talents are unsuited for the material. While Ulmer was too good a technician to fail completely, The Pirates of Capri's costumed action sequences lack the flair and dynamic energy of the work of Curtiz, nor is he in Korda's class in making a modest budget look opulent. Lead actor Louis Hayward was, by this time, a not-particularly fresh veteran of second-tier swashbuckler films. With Errol Flynn's career in decline and limited by health problems, Hayward found frequent work. In 1950, Hayward would get a chance with Fortunes of Captain Blood to re-create Flynn's star-making role. Films of this sort sustained Hayward until his career transitioned into television. His performance in The Pirates of Capri is like much of his other work in this period, competent and professional, but without distinction. That description sums up the film overall, too.