The Pirate Movie

The Pirate Movie

"The Pirate Movie" is a 1982 musical and comedy film directed by Ken Annakin and starring Christopher Atkins and Kristy McNichol. The film is loosely based on Gilbert and Sullivan's comic opera "The Pirates of Penzance". The original music score is composed by Mike Brady and Peter Sullivan.

*"Set Sail for the Musical Comedy Adventure of the Summer!"
*"Yar! Buckle your swash and Jolly your Roger for the funniest rock 'n' rollickin' adventure ever!"

Plot summary

Mabel Stanley (McNichol), an introverted girl who yearns for popularity, attends a pirate festival called Pirate Day in her seaside community in Australia. She trails behind her friends - a dozen bikini-clad bombshells. The festival features a swordplay demonstration led by a curly-haired hunk (Atkins). After selecting the clumsy Mabel ("nominated" by one of the aforementioned bombshells) to participate in the act, the instructor invites her aboard his boat for a real ride on the high seas — at which point her catty acquaintances latch on for the trip. Sent to get hamburgers for the outing, Mabel's bikini-clad 'friends' sabotage the outing by grabbing the guy, the boat and the burgers and sail off without her.

Intent on catching up and joining her sisters and dream guy, Mabel rents a small sail boat (not intended for open ocean use) armed with only her trusty portable stereo and is thrown overboard in a sudden storm, washing up on a beach. Thus begins Mabel's vivid dream/fantasy that takes place a century before.

In her dream, the instructor is now Frederic, the young apprentice of the Pirates of Penzance, and is celebrating his twenty-first birthday with his pirate friends and his adopted father, the Pirate King (Hamilton), who sympathizes with orphans. He has lived his entire life at sea after his parents were murdered by other pirates, and has never seen any female except the ship's nurse, Ruth. Instead of accepting the invitation to become a full pirate, Frederic announces that he wishes to set out on his own and swears, apologetically to his pirate family, to destroy them and cutthroats like them to avenge his family. The Pirate King, also apologetically, forces Frederic off his ship and into an embarrassingly small boat. Soon after, he swims to a nearby island after seeing some beautiful young sisters singing and dancing on shore. When he tries to greet them, the girls recognize him as a pirate, become frightened, and run away. Disheartened, he then meets the youngest sister, Mabel (McNichol), who in a reversal of roles is portrayed as an adventurous, outgoing beauty, while her sisters are seen as more proper and somewhat repressed, and quickly falls in love with her and proposes marriage. Unfortunately, the local custom requires the sisters to marry in the order of eldest to youngest. But before Mabel can attempt to have the custom waived, Frederic's old mates come ashore, looking for women (none of them has had sex in twenty years) and snatch all of Mabel's sisters. Frederic attempts to fight the Pirate King, but is unarmed. To his shock, Mabel boldly duels the Pirate King herself, but is quickly defeated. However, her father, Major-General Stanley (Kerr), arrives just in time and begs for mercy, declaring "himself" an "orphan". The Pirate King and all the pirates, being orphans themselves, cannot bring themselves to harm another orphan. They reluctantly free the Stanley sisters and leave in peace, but anchor the ship just outside the harbor.

Mabel introduces Frederic to her father and informs him that they wish to be married. The Major-General reminds Mabel of the custom and adds that even if there was no custom, Frederic would be unsuitable to marry her, as he is poor. To win her father's favor for him, Mabel hatches a plot for Frederic to recover the Stanley Family treasure from the pirates that they had stolen from the Major-General years before.

That night, after all the pirates have gone to sleep, Mabel and Frederic sneak aboard the pirate ship. Mabel asks Frederic where the treasure is, and he tells her that it had fallen overboard some years back, but the Pirate King created a map and had it permanently tattooed on his back. However, Frederic adds that no one has ever actually seen the map because the Pirate King never takes his shirt off in public. Mabel sends Frederic to get something to draw on and to meet her outside the Pirate King's chambers at a window. She enters the stunned Pirate King's room under the pretense of romantic intentions, saying he "gives her goosebumps". Eventually, she gets the Pirate King to remove his shirt to flex and pose for her, while Frederic furiously copies the map while peeking in the window. As a final attempt to escape, she playfully blindfolds the Pirate King and sneaks out while, unbeknownst to him (or Mabel), the nurse Ruth (who has pined for the Pirate King for years) quietly sneaks in and leads the Pirate King to the bed, where he declares with glee, "Mabel! Your goosebumps have grown!"

The next day, Mabel and Frederic follow the map and recover the stolen treasure. They present it proudly to her father, who is rather underwhelmed since he no longer has an army to protect the island from the mounting threat that the pirates pose, and he believed the treasure will simply be stolen again when the pirates realize it is missing. Mabel proudly announces that Frederic will raise an army, and sends Frederic out to ride off on horseback to do so.

However, Frederic, who has been at sea his whole life, does not know how to ride a horse, and promptly gets thrown. Suddenly, the Pirate King appears and the two do battle. After a long (and over-the-top) scene filled with comedic references to other well-known works, Frederic finally gets the upper hand. Ruth then appears and convinces them to stop fighting, reminding the Pirate King of the secret he has been keeping. Frederic's curiosity now perked, The Pirate King produces the contract of Frederic's Apprenticeship of Piracy to him. The contract declares Frederic's birthday as February 29, 1856 (a leap year). Frederic is dismayed when he learns that his contract ends upon his "twenty-first birthday", rather than his "twenty-first year". Since his birthday actually only occurs every four years - Frederic is technically only five years old, and is still bound by the contract. Plagued by his sense of honor and duty, he has no choice but to return to the pirates and tell them of the Stanleys' plan to raise an army. He makes his way back to the Stanley house to say goodbye to Mabel. When he arrives, she tries to convince him not to go back, but Frederic's sense of duty is unwavering. Without her love by her side, Mabel resolves to raise an army herself, and rides off to find the local (singing and dancing Monty Python-esque) police force. Upon hearing that pirates are planning to attack, they reluctantly follow her, but make every effort to run away and hide.

That night, the pirates march on land to raid the Stanley estate. Mabel and her sisters prepare to fight the pirates with the cowardly local police, who are hiding (with fear) throughout the massive mansion. When Frederic gets separated from the other pirates, he wanders over to a knight's suit of armor and discovers that Mabel is hiding inside it. He tries to kiss her, but Mabel makes no attempt to accept his affections, though it is clear that she still loves him. She tries again to convince Frederic to help her and her family, but to no avail. They agree to be enemies for the fight ahead, parting with a sad song of lost love.

The battle culminates in the main hall of the house, with Mabel leading the defenses. But the Stanleys and the police are no match for the pirates. At one point, Mabel and Frederic find themselves locked in a staredown with each other's swords at their throats. Vexed by each other's gaze, they move together for one last kiss - but at the last moment, Mabel knees Frederic between his legs, and - as Frederic crumples, she breaks the fourth wall and says, "War is hell..."

The fight turns in the pirates' favor, and the Pirate King orders the Stanley Family executed. Mabel breaks free of the pirates and demands a "happy ending" - admitting for the first time that she believes this all to be a dream. The pirates are confused, but have no choice but to comply (for it is Mabel's dream, after all). Seeking her "ending", Mabel confronts her father and requests a full pardon for Frederic. The Major-General refuses, but in turn, knights Frederic (which includes a pardon of past dubious deeds).

However, Major-General Stanley declares that the marriage custom "must" remain in effect. So to complete her storybook ending, Mabel quickly pairs each pirate with one of her sisters (comically, two male pirates are paired together, much to their surprise). When she gets to the Pirate King, she admits that he will be a challenge to match with another. The Pirate King takes Mabel roughly into his arms and declares his intentions to her, as he wants the woman he shared a night of passion with as his wife. It is only then, when Ruth comes forward and "accepts", that the Pirate King realizes that it had been Ruth, not Mabel, whom he had fallen in love with that night.

With everyone paired up, Mabel and Frederic are free to marry, and all have their own "happy ending" in a grand song and dance scene.

Meanwhile, back on the beach, the real Mabel awakens and discovers that she is wearing the wedding ring that Frederic had given her in her dream. It is at that moment that the handsome, curly-haired man discovers her on the beach, rises her to her feet and passionately kisses her. Mabel, who is still shaken by her dream, asks him if his name is Frederic. He assures her that he isn't who she imagined him to be, but then carries her off to marry her in a lavish, Pirate Day-themed celebration, thus giving the real Mabel her "happy ending" as well.

ongs from "The Pirate Movie"

Polydor records released a soundtrack album and singles from this film.
#"Victory" - Pirates featuring Mike Brady
#"We are the Pirates" - Ian Mason
#"Stand Up and Sing" - Kool & the Gang
#"The Chinese Battle" - Peter Sullivan & the Orchestra
#"I Am the Pirate King" - Ted Hamilton & the Pirates
#"The Sisters' Song" - The Sisters
#"First Love" - Kristy McNichol & Christopher Atkins
#"The Chase" - Peter Sullivan & the Orchestra
#"The Modern Major General" - Bill Kerr & the Cast
#"Pumpin' and Blowin'" - Kristy McNichol

  1. "The Duel" - Peter Sullivan & the Orchestra
  2. "How Can I Live Without Her" - Christopher Atkins (also released as a single)
  3. "Hold On" - Kristy McNichol
  4. "Tarantara" - Garry McDonald & the Policemen
  5. "We are the Pirates II" - Ted Hamilton & the Pirates
  6. "Come Friends Who Plow the Sea" - Ted Hamilton & the Pirates
  7. "Pirates, Police, and Pizza" - Peter Sullivan & the Orchestra
  8. "Happy Ending" - Cast
  9. "Happy Ending" - Peter Cupples Band
  10. "Medley" - Peter Sullivan & the Orchestra

Historical note

The movie was made soon after the 1980 New York City Central Park and 1981 Broadway theatre production of "The Pirates of Penzance" produced by Joseph Papp, which re-popularized swashbuckling pirates as a theatrical genre.

Awards and nominations

*AFI Awards:Nominated: Best Achievement in Costume Design (Aphrodite Kondos) :Nominated: Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Garry McDonald)
*Golden Raspberry Awards:Won: Worst Musical Score:Won: Worst Director (Ken Annakin):Won: Worst "Original" Song ("Pumpin' and Blowin'):Nominated: Worst Picture:Nominated: Worst Screenplay:Nominated: Worst Actor (Christopher Atkins):Nominated: Worst Actress (Kristy McNichol):Nominated: Worst Supporting Actor (Ted Hamilton):Nominated: Worst "Original" Song ("Happy Endings")


*Loch Ard Gorge
*Werribee Park Mansion

External links

*imdb title|id=0084504|title=The Pirate Movie
*amg title|id=A38221|title=The Pirate Movie
*rotten-tomatoes|id=pirate_movie|title=The Pirate Movie
* [ "The Pirate Movie"] at The Gilbert & Sullivan Discography
* [;adv=yes;group=;groupequals=;holdingType=;page=0;parentid=;query=Number%3A50008;querytype=;rec=0;resCount=10 The Pirate Movie at the National Film and Sound Archive]

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