The Black Swan Henry King

I had hoped that this Tyrone Power swashbuckler might have had a little jolt of excitement, especially with spitfire Maureen O’Hara playing opposite Power. Alas, it bogs down in procedure rather than adventure. Power plays Jamie Boy Waring, a pirate captain who’s just joined former buccaneer Captain Morgan (Laird Cregar) as he takes over the governorship of Jamaica. But rogue elements of his crew, specifically Captain Billy Leech (George Sanders), refuse to submit to the rule of law and start sacking ships as if nothing had happened. Jamie Boy has to a) win the heart of O’Hara’s recalcitrant Lady Margaret (a matter that involves her abduction) and b) bring down Leech before he destroys Morgan’s credibility. After a lively opening, the movie bogs down in politics, a matter not helped by Jamie and Lady Margaret’s flaccid courtship scenes, and after a while, you pine for somebody to board a ship and shiver some timbers. This wouldn’t have been a problem were the writers up to the task but the normally dependable Ben Hecht is here rewritten by somebody named Seton I. Miller and he’s not one for sparkling dialogue or clever construction. As it stands, the movie is too talky to be a thrilling escapade but not smart enough to be a stand-up drama and the film falls between two stools with a thud. Too bad, as the film justly won an Oscar for its cinematography, and the colours are vivid enough to make you wish for the all-business extravaganza that might have been. Extras include a commentary with film historian Rudy Behlmer and Maureen O’Hara that’s mostly fabulous reminiscences by O’Hara, and a restoration comparison. (Fox)