For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, Feb. 20, 2015

The classic Douglas Fairbanks swashbuckler “The Black Pirate” (1926, silent) was the fourth commercial feature to be filmed entirely in the then-revolutionary two-tone (red/green) Technicolor process — nine years before the first three-strip Technicolor film, “Becky Sharp,” made its debut in 1935.

This is one of Fairbanks’ best remembered exercises in athletic stunt work as he plays the title character, a mysterious adventurer who attempts to join and take over command of a pirate crew, first by using his sword against the current captain and then by proving his worth with a clever plot to hold a wealthy passenger ship for ransom.

But plot is secondary to Fairbanks’ daredevil stunt work, including what many consider his most famous single sequence, which climaxes with him sliding down the sails from the top of a high mast.


               Douglas Fairbanks, 'The Black Pirate'

By the time he made “The Black Pirate,” Fairbanks was already established as a dashing, handsome and athletic action star, with such classics as “The Mark of Zorro” (1920), “The Three Musketeers” (1921), “Robin Hood” (1922) and “The Thief of Bagdad” (1924) behind him.

And he maintained his stardom through the end of the silent era, though he foundered when sound came on the scene, partly due to the new restrictions of the medium and partly due to his own declining health.


But “The Black Pirate” remains, arguably, the definitive pirate adventure film — and like most big-screen action yarns, it fares better when seen with an audience.

“The Black Pirate” will play at the Organ Loft on Thursday and Friday, Feb. 26-27, at 7:30 in The Organ Loft, with live organ accompaniment.