Monday, December 3, 2012

The Black Swan (1942)

Set sail for a witty script, plenty of adventure and gorgeous Technicolor with The Black Swan.

Leon Shamroy's work behind the camera is the real star of this 1942 effort from director Henry King (Twelve O'Clock High, The Song of Bernadette). He even won an Oscar for best cinematography.

In an accompanying commentary, actress Maureen O'Hara notes she did little work in Technicolor before The Black Swan. Afterwards, she wanted to do nothing but.

The story is pretty straightforward. Capt. Harry Morgan (Laird Cregar) is a pirate who is expected to be hanged by the King of England. Instead, he's given a pardon and sent to Jamaica to rid the seas of pirates. Some, like Jamie Waring (Tyrone Power), join him. Others, Capt. Billy Leech (George Sanders) vow to keep pillaging.

Waring becomes smitten with Lady Margaret Denby (Maureen O'Hara), the daughter of the colony's former leader. She's less than eager to get to know a former pirate. He keeps up his attempts to woo her, while Morgan faces impeachment over Leech wreaking havoc on British ships laden with gold.

There's a couple of funny scenes where Waring uses given circumstances to get a little closer to the knockout who is Denby.

Power made The Black Swan just two years after The Mark of Zorro. He gets to wield his sword again, especially in a climatic showdown with Leech. It almost looks like the film is speeded up to handle the one-on-one battle.

The Black Swan has a great cast with Thomas Mitchell (It's a Wonderful Life) and Anthony Quinn (Lawrence of Arabia) along for the ride.

Get the popcorn ready and savour this entertaining swash buckler of a tale.

RATING: 8/10

FUN FACTS: The Black Swan also received Oscar nominations for best special effects and music (Alfred Newman).

Leon Shamroy also shot South Pacific, Cleopatra and The King and I.

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