Ten Deep 9.26.13: Top Ten Movie Pirates
Posted by Mike Gorman on 09.26.2013
From Pirates of the Caribbean's Captain Jack Sparrow and Goonies' One-Eyed Willie to Hook in Peter Pan, Dread Pirate Roberts in The Princess Bride and more, 411's Mike Gorman counts down the top 10 movie pirates of all time!
"Top Ten Movie Pirates"
You may not know this but one of my roommates (Hi Doug!) is a pirate. I mean it; he is a member of a group of pirates who were recognized by the State of RI in 2011 with a privateering commission by the Governor. This type of degree has not been given out since the War of 1812. If you'd like to read more about them, check out their website here. This week was Doug's birthday and in honor of his love for all things pirate I decided to dedicate this week's Ten Deep to the Top Ten Movie Pirates.
You will see as you peruse the list that some of the entries are more historically accurate than others. Hollywood has definitely painted a specific picture for us of what the life of a pirate is like, often ignoring the darker realities of their history. That said, the top ten most realistic pirates would have been a much different list and probably not as much fun for those of us who are fans of the traditional swashbuckling imagery of those rogues on the high seas. For now though, that list will remain buried treasure as I present the most significant movie pirates cinema has given us.
10. Steve the Pirate in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
In Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story we met Steve, who was perfectly happy living his life believing he was a pirate until his friends convinced him it was time to "grow up" and give up his delusion. In the end though they found they needed Steve to be himself, to be a pirate, for them to be successful. It was a nice little life lesson about being yourself regardless of what people around you think and treated us all to some nice talking like a pirate moments in a modern day film.
9. One Eyed Willie in Goonies
One Eyed Willie from Goonies holds the distinction of being the only pirate on the list that was dead throughout the film in which he appears. I felt like Willie still earned a spot on the list though because it was his story that drove the action of Goonies forward and eventually led to our heroes saving their homes. Willie may not have had one line in the movie but his presence spoke volumes to all of the characters who pursued his treasure.
8. Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance
Kevin Kline's turn as the Pirate King in the film adaptation of the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta The Pirates of Penzance is a true through back to the larger than life performances of some of the big screen's legends who show up later on this list. The Pirate King's personality was as big as the sea upon which his ship sailed and Kline added a seriousness to the role that ended up enhancing the film's comedic elements in contrast.
7. Edward 'Blackbeard' Teach in Blackbeard: Terror at Sea
The only television movie that I allowed on this list, Blackbeard: Terror at Sea was a historically accurate portrayal of pirate history first shown on the National Geographic channel. In it James Purefoy gives an amazing performance as Edward 'Blackbeard' Teach bringing us into the real life of the pirate so often turned into a monster or comical figure on film. If you have not seen it yet, this docu-drama is definitely worth seeing and comes with the seal of approval from my pirate roommate, Doug.
6. Dread Pirate Roberts in The Princess Bride
Pirates are often individuals that exist in legends and reputations, their exploits and the stories of them often precede their appearances on film and construct their characters. This is very true in the case of the Dread Pirate Roberts in The Princess Bride as he exists entirely in reputation and myth. When we meet him, he is really the long lost stable boy who loved Princess Buttercup, Wesley, and we learn that the identity of the Dread Pirate Roberts has been passed down before, ie. There has been more than one and will probably be another someday. This unique plot device plays into the mythology that surrounds pirates in a way that is interestingly accurate and humorous for the film.
5. The Cast of Muppet Treasure Island
When I started brainstorming pirates to put on this list Tim Curry's performance as Long John Silver in Muppet Treasure Island was one of the first I wrote down but as I thought about it more I realized that there are too many excellent pirate performances in this film to just highlight one. So as we hit the mid-point of this week's Ten Deep, I encourage you recognize the communal brilliance of the live action and Muppet privateers in this classic. It seems fitting to do this in that this week is also the birthday of the late, great Jim Henson!
4. Captain Hook in Peter Pan (1953)
While there have been several great Hook's on film including Dustin Hoffman's performance in Hook and Jason Issacs take in 2003's Peter Pan, for me the iconic performance of this crocodile fearing captain will always be the Disney animated Hook from 1953's Peter Pan. In the film, Hook has abandoned his pirating adventures to have his crew focus on his revenge on Peter Pan, who he blames for the loss of his hand. Hook is one of Disney's most beloved villains and is as memorable as the film's lead, perhaps even more so.
3. Peter Blood in Captain Blood
I will let you know that I consulted Doug on which film pirates he thought stood out in his mind, he almost immediately responded, "You have to have Errol Flynn on there!" and I agreed. When cast as Peter Blood in Captain Blood, Flynn had yet to really make a name for himself in Hollywood and was considered a relative unknown. His chemistry with co-star Olivia de Havilland became legendary and led to seven more films with them together to follow. This is the role defined swashbuckling adventurer's for many decades to come.
2. Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean series
There was not much fanfare when it was announced years ago that Johnny Depp would be playing the lead in a film based on a ride from the Disney Parks. Previous attempts to do this (hello Eddie Murphy in Haunted Mansion) had not been met with success but as always the creators at Disney learn from their mistakes and presented us a true blockbuster led by an unforgettable pirate, Captain Jack Sparrow. Depp's performance as Sparrow was different from most of his other work yet was ultimately an extreme success. The first film led to a series that followed and is still continuing today. Jack Sparrow brought the mystique of the pirate back into the pop culture sphere and has led to many cross platform promotions and of course, imitators. Sparrow was so popular that Disney actually changed the Pirates of the Caribbean rides to include him in their classic storyline. If you get the chance, check it out, the animatronic Depp's are eerily accurate.
1. Long John Silver in Treasure Island (1950)
When we think about how our culture perceives pirates today, be it their images or their dialect, it can be traced back to Robert Newton's performance as Long John Silver in 1950's Treasure Island. From this memorable performance grew our prevalent belief of what pirates were like in general and shaped most portrayals to follow. September 19th is International Talk Like a Pirate Day and we owe Newton's Long John Silver for teaching us the "correct" way to roll our "Arrrr's". Newton's over the top performance gifted us with an archetype of the pirate that still exists today around the world.
Should I walk the plank for missing your favorite pirate? Let me know in the comments below. I leave you this week with a performance by the Lonely Island and a certain Jack Sparrow superfan that is not to be missed (if you somehow haven't seen it already!)
Bored? Please bookmark http://www.411mania.com. Are you using Twitter? You can follow me and 411mania's zones on these pages: