The Pirate Movie, 1982, is a spoof of not only the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta Pirates of Penzance, but everything pop culture from the early 20th Century. And I absolutely adore this film. Screenplay by Trevor Farrant, directed by Ken Annakin, and the new songs by Terry Britten, Kit Hain, Sue Shifrin, and Brian Robertson. Be prepared to yield and watch the ships go down “For I am the pirate king.”
Mabel (Kristy McNichol) is an awkward teen in the eighties who delves into a dream world of pirates, musicals, and love, after she nearly drowns. Fredrick (Christopher Atkins) has finished his apprenticeship to the pirate king (Ted Hamilton) and finds himself no longer duty bound to the crew. He is free to go off and do as he pleases. And what he pleases is to fall in love. He meets Mabel and they have a brief love scene before he proposes to her. But they cannot marry until all of her older sisters are married first. Then the pirates come ashore to rape and pillage and it all becomes one big mess. It takes a miracle to turn it all into a happy ending.
This is the film that defines my childhood. I have watched it so much I can sing along with most of the songs (Model of a modern major general goes too fast for my tongue). It is amazing! Perfect! Cannot fault it! How anyone can think they can live without watching this at least once in their lifetime (it’s addictive and you’ll be watching it more than once), it’s a tragedy.
Mabel is a remarkable character; she is strong, independent, fearless, and defiant. She has spunk. She fights to protect herself and her family when everyone else around her dismisses her because she is a woman. Feminism rampant in this. Fredrick is just fun and sexy. Nice ass. And a cute smile.
Entirely filmed in Australia.
Fashion wise… avert your eyes children. Mabel has a mullet, the pirate king as a bejewelled cod piece, and there are tight tights on every man. That last one isn’t a complaint.
You have to watch this and really concentrate. So many great one-liners and unexpected references. And the sexual innuendos fly fast. Perfect comedy timing from everyone. We occasionally break the fourth wall with a well-placed snide comment. “I’m 23,” Sister One says. Turning to the camera, Mabel responds, “33.” The best comedy script ever.
I can’t praise this high enough. Watch it. Please do. You won’t regret it. It isn’t necessary to find a copy of The Pirates of Penzance, but it wouldn’t hurt to watch that first and then watch this. Things might make sense as to why they chose to change it the way they have in the eighties. It’s lovely. In fact, I have a feeling I’m going to go back and watch this a second time tonight; I need more men getting up close and personal in their feminine shirts and leather pants, and women bringing them to their knees.
“I want a happy ending!”
I always wondered where my personality came from… now I see it.