ANNE OF THE INDIES (LA MUJER PIRATA) (director: Jacques Tourneur; screenwriter: Philip Dunne/Arthur Caesar; cinematographer: Harry Jackson; editor: Robert Fritch; music: Franz Waxman; cast: Louis Jourdan (Captain Pierre la Rochelle ), Jean Peters (Anne, also known as Capt. Providence), Debra Paget (Molly), Thomas Gomez (Blackbeard), James Robertson Justice (Red Dougal), Herbert Marshall (Dr. Jameson), Francis Pierlot (Herkimer), Sean McClory (Hackett), Olaf Hytton(Commander Harris); Runtime: 80; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: George Jessel; Research Entertainment (PAL: Region 2); 1951)
“A decent swashbuckler of a notorious woman pirate of the 17th century.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A decent swashbuckler of a notorious woman pirate of the 17th century, that’s finely helmed by Jacques Tourneur (“Cat People’/”Canyon Passage”/”Wichita”) with psychological undertones of what it’s like to be an assertive woman in a man’s world.WritersPhilip Dunne and Arthur Caesarkeep it action-packed with fiery sea battles and plenty of sword play. Though only a minor adventure film it’s pleasing to watch, as the Technicolor is lush and the scenery is eye-pleasing.
Captain Anne Providence (Jean Peters) is a bloodthirsty, distrusting of society, pirate, who was mentored as an orphan by the infamous pirate Blackbeard (Thomas Gomez) and given by him the pirate ship Sheba Queen when she learned all his secrets. After overtaking a British ship in the Caribbean and making the crew walk the plank, Anne allows their handsome French prisonerCaptain Pierre la Rochelle (Louis Jourdan) to live. He’s the smooth talking captain of the Irish ship Molly O’Brien, named after his wife, who was captured by the British as a privateer. Anne’s big-bellied first mate Red Dougal (James Robertson Justice), loaned to her by Blackbeard as a protector, is suspicious of Frenchie, but goes along with the captain’s decision to make him the ship navigator. In Nassau, Anne meets Captain Blackbeard in a loud pub that has bear wrestling. When Frenchie disappears during their long saloon meeting, she has him flogged when he returns later that night. Dr. Jameson ( Herbert Marshall), the ship’s philosophical alcoholic doctor, finds half of a treasure map in Frenchie’s room and she stops the punishment when he agrees to make her a partner when they recover the booty of the infamous pirate Henry Morgan. Frenchie tells Anne the other half of the map is in Port Royal, Jamaica, and that’s Anne’s next destination. But Blackbeard returns to greet her in a secret cove, where she stopped for repairs, and tells her that her Frenchie is a married French naval officer posing as a pirate and that he has a deal with the Brits to track you down. Having fallen in love, Anne refuses to believe Blackbeard and insults him. This causes a break in their relationship. Finally, in Port Royal, Anne learns that Frenchie deceived her about everything and was selling her out to the Brits to get back his ship. Things get spicy when Anne takes Frenchie’s wife Molly (Debra Paget) as hostage aboard the Sheba Queen and plans to sell her at a slave-auction in Maracaibo and Frenchie comes after her in his old ship with a crew supplied by the Brits.
Tourneur makes no attempt to make this anything but a muscular fictionalized action film, even if it was meant to be be based on the real pirate Anne Bonny. It’s melancholy, thinly plotted and its revenge scenes seem ludicrous. But Peters does well in her part, showing she could look good in her costumes yet be tough like a male pirate.
REVIEWED ON 9/27/2012 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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