movie review: ‘double crossbones’ (1951)

This post is part of Hamlette’s We Love Pirates Blog Week. Check out the other posts here and the giveaway here!

Double Crossbones is one of my all-time favorite comedy movies. It tells the story of a young man named Davey (Donald O’Conner) who becomes a pirate quite unexpectedly (but with pretty good success, depending on how you look at it). I view this film as sort of the grandfather of Pirates of the Caribbean (at least the first one) because while there’s humor, there’s also a pretty serious storyline as well. Double Crossbones is a dramedy, if you will.

You’ve got all the right ingredients for a fantastic pirate movie: an utterly dastardly villain, a beautiful heroine, appearances by the most famous pirates in history (John Morgan, Ann Bonney, Captain Kidd, Blackbeard), and plenty of derring do on the part of our hero.

As I’ve probably mentioned before, I much prefer Donald O’Conner to his more popular counterpart, Danny Kaye. If Singin’ in the Rain was the start of my liking for O’Conner, Double Crossbones sealed the deal. At first, Davey is pretty naïve and bumbling. But when push comes to shove, he shows his intelligence, bravery, and loyalty to his friends & lady love. I don’t want to give too much away in case you want to check out the film! And while Davey usually just sasses Governor Elden (the villain), he also has this one more serious line when the Governor tries to make him tell the whereabouts of Lady Sylvia (the love interest) and it’s just…*mic drop*. Love it.

Jack Sparrow could never.

Because this is a Donald O’Conner movie, he also tap dances and sings a song. ‘Percy Had a Heart’. Very catchy and will probably be stuck in your head after hearing it. Unfortunately (and criminally) it’s not on YouTube so I can’t link to it. (I just found it on Vimeo though! Go listen!)

Governor Elden is a serious creeper. He’s supposed to be Lady Sylvia’s guardian (and he’s like thirty or forty years older than her) and then he gets her to agree to marry him. Blech. I’m glad he gets vanquished in the end.

If this ‘review’ seems rather disjointed, it’s probably because I haven’t seen Double Crossbones in a while (just played various bits and pieces while writing this post). And after working all day, my brain power is a bit limited. However, if you’re in the mood for a fun ‘historical’ comedy with some gorgeous costumes and a piratical atmosphere, definitely give this film a try! It’s especially fun to watch it for the first time if you don’t know how the story will play out. (Of course the villain will be defeated. Of course the hero will get the girl. But how it all happens is very interesting.)

And if you’ve seen Double Crossbones, let me know in the comments what you thought of it!