The Black Pirate (1926)

The Black Pirate is a 1926 American silent action adventure film shot entirely in two-color Technicolor about an adventurer and a “company” of pirates. Directed by Albert Parker, it stars Douglas Fairbanks, Donald Crisp, Sam De Grasse, and Billie Dove. In 1993, The Black Pirate was included in the annual selection of 25 motion pictures to be added to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress, being deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.


The film begins with the looting of a ship already captured and badly mauled, by the pirates. After relieving the ship and crew of valuables, the pirates fire the ship, blowing up the gunpowder on board, sinking her. While the pirates celebrate, two survivors wash up on an island, an old man and his son. Before dying, the older man gives his signet ring to his son (Douglas Fairbanks). His son buries him, vowing vengeance.

The Pirate Captain and Lieutenant bring some crew to the other side of the same island to bury some of their plunder. They then plan to murder the other pirates: “Dead men tell no tales.” But first, the son appears as the “Black Pirate”, who offers to join their company and fight their best man to prove his worth. After much fighting, the Black Pirate kills the Pirate Captain. The Pirate Lieutenant sneers, and says there is more to being a pirate than sword tricks. To further prove his worth, the Black Pirate says he will capture the next ship of prey single-handed, which he does. He then uses his wits to prevent the pirates from blowing up the ship along with the crew and passengers, suggesting that they hold the ship for ransom.

When a woman is discovered on board, the Pirate Lieutenant claims her. Being in love at first sight for her, the Black Pirate finds a way to temporarily save her from this fate by presenting her as a “princess” and urging the crew to use her as a hostage to ensure their ransom will be paid, as long as she remains “spotless and unharmed”.

The pirates cheer the Black Pirate, and want to name him captain. The Pirate Lieutenant jeers but consents to wait to see if the ransom is paid by noon the next day. However, he secretly has a confederate destroy the ransom ship later that night to ensure it will not return. Then, when the Black Pirate is caught trying to release the woman, the Pirate Lieutenant exposes him as a traitor and the pirates force him to walk the plank.


Directed by Albert Parker
Written by Jack Cunningham
Produced by Douglas Fairbanks
Music by Mortimer Wilson
Distributed by United Artists
Restored and upscaled by moonflix, LLC


Douglas Fairbanks as The Duke of Arnoldo / The Black Pirate
Billie Dove as Princess Isobel
Anders Randolf as Pirate Captain
Donald Crisp as MacTavish
Tempe Pigott as Duenna
Sam De Grasse as Pirate Lieutenant
Charles Stevens as Powder Man
Charles Belcher as Chief passenger (Nobleman)
E. J. Ratcliffe as the Governor
John Wallace as Peg-Leg Pirate
Fred Becker as Pirate
Nino Cochise as Pirate (uncredited)
Jimmy Dime as Pirate (uncredited)
George Holt as Pirate (uncredited)
Harold Kruger as Pirate (uncredited)
Charles Lewis as Pirate (uncredited)
Barry Norton as Youth (uncredited)
Mary Pickford as Princess Isobel in Final Embrace (uncredited cameo)
Bob Roper as Pirate (uncredited)

Original release date:
March 8, 1926

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Genres: Action Films, Adventure Films, New Arrivals, Movies, Color Classics, 1920's, Adventure, Silent Films, Silent Films, American Classics, Color Movies, Classics at Sea, ALL Movies, Action

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