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THE CRIMSON PIRATE ($20) is, without a doubt, one of the most enjoyable swashbuckling pirate movies ever made. With a decidedly lighthearted streak, THE CRIMSON PIRATE is a showcase for the acrobatic prowess of leading man Burt Lancaster and his vaudeville/circus partner Nick Cravat. The movie is ripe with good humor and thrilling stunt work, making it one of the finest movies to ever fly the Jolly Roger. In THE CRIMSON PIRATE, Lancaster portrays Captain Vallo, a thinking manís pirate, who schemes the big schemes, much to the dismay of his pirate crew that are only interested in a quick and easy booty.

After capturing a British military vessel containing soldiers and weapons to put down a uprising on a Caribbean island, Vallo puts his latest scheme into action. With the weapons in his possession, Vallo intends to sell them to the rebels at an exorbitant price, and then after collecting his money, Vallo intends to sell the location of the rebels and the weapons back to the British for and even more exorbitant price. Unfortunately for Vallo, his plans are complicated, when it is discovered that the rebel leader is already in British custody. Making the required adjustment to his plans, Vallo breaks the rebel leader out of a British stronghold, but not before he falls in love with the manís beautiful daughter Consuelo (Eva Bartok)- thus another complication! The cast of THE CRIMSON PIRATE also includes Torin Thatcher, James Hayter, Leslie Bradley, Margot Grahame, Noel Purcell, Frederick Leister, Eliot Makeham and (a pre horror movie stardom) Christopher Lee.

Warner Home Video has made THE CRIMSON PIRATE available on DVD in a really terrific looking transfer that frames the film in its proper 1.37:1 full screen aspect ratio. This marvelous presentation really captures the flavor of an original IB Technicolor print- offering up richly saturated hues that are a true feast for the eyes. Despite the intensity of the hues, colors are always completely stable, being rendered without noise or smearing. The image itself is sharp and very well defined. Blacks appear deep and velvety, while the whites are crisp. Contrast is excellent and the image produces a nice dimensional quality. The film element used for the transfer display some minor blemishes, but nothing that would really give away the fact that THE CRIMSON PIRATE is more than half a century old. Digital compression artifacts maintain a pretty low profile.

THE CRIMSON PIRATE comes with a reasonably good Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack. The sound seems to have been cleaned up to a great extent, removing most of the background hiss and surface noise from the five-decade-old track. For the most part, the sound is crisp, but the fidelity is expectedly truncated. THE CRIMSON PIRATE features a rather lively score by William Alwyn, although it is somewhat shallow sounding on playback. Additionally, the track sounds fine at normal listening levels, but its limitations do become a bit more apparent at a higher volume. Still, dialogue is always intelligible and the actorsí voices maintain a distinctive character- particularly Lancasterís. No other language soundtracks are encoded onto the DVD, although English, French and Spanish subtitles are provided. Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which provide access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a cast listing and a bit of biographical information on Burt Lancaster and his friend and acrobatic partner Nick Cravat.

THE CRIMSON PIRATE is jolly good fun and a great looking DVD from Warner. If you are a fan of pirate movies, a Burt Lancaster fan, or just like having a good time at the movies, you canít go wrong by picking up a copy of THE CRIMSON PIRATE. Recommended.



The Crimson Pirate (1952)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2003 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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