Entered log book: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), Dead Man’s Chest (2006), At World’s End (2007) and, out next Wednesday, On Stranger Tides.
Starring: Johnny Depp (main picture), Geoffrey Rush, Keira Knightley and, in On Stranger Tides, Penelope Cruz.
History: What started out as an attraction in a Disney theme park went on to conquer the multiplex world, earning billions in the process.
Shiver me timbers factor: As an actor, Keith Richards, playing Jack Sparrow’s father, makes a brilliant guitarist. The franchise has also become notorious for long running times that make taking a slow boat to China look like jumping a speedboat to Mull.
HMS: TREASURE ISLAND
Entered log book: 1950
Starring: Robert Newton as Long John Silver, Bobby Driscoll as Jim Hawkins.
History: Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel was given a faithful passage to the screen by director Byron Haskin, with a screenplay by Lawrence Edward Watkin. Not as stylish as its predecessor, Victor Fleming’s 1934 version, or as funny as 1996’s Muppet Treasure Island, with Billy Connolly as Billy Bones and Tim Curry as Long John Silver.
Shiver me timbers factor: Haskin’s picture is widely held to have imported the phrase, “Aargh, Jim lad,” into common currency. Usually said with a cod West Country accent.
HMS: MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY
Entered log book: 1962
Starring: Marlon Brando, Richard Harris
History: Clark Gable and Charles Laughton had turned in none too shabby performances as Fletcher Christian and Captain Bligh in the 1935, Oscar-winning version of the true story, but then along came Brando and Trevor Howard to show them how it was done. Though nominated for seven Oscars, Lewis Milestone’s movie walked away with an empty chest.
Shiver me timbers factor: The film shocked audiences of the day with its lashings of floggings and showing the practice of keelhauling in grisly detail. As an added public service, the film highlighted the dangers of drinking sea water.
HMS: DEAD CALM
Entered log book: 1988
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Sam Neill
History: Troubled couple Rae and John Ingram (Kidman and Neill) are having a make or break holiday on their yacht. They stage a good deed in rescuing a stranger (Billy Zane) from peril, only for some very bad things to begin happening.
Shiver me timbers factor: Phillip Noyce’s film is often found buried on late night television when it’s a cracking thriller deserving of a wider audience (the Radio Times billed it “one of the best ocean going shockers since Jaws”). Also remarkable for Nicole Kidman’s ferociously curly hair. After Dead Calm it was hair straighteners and Hollywood for her.
HMS: PETER PAN
Entered log book: 1953
Starring: the voices of Hans Conried, Bobby Driscoll
History: Disney again, this beautifully illustrated take on JM Barrie’s story defined the characters in many young minds. An artistic cast of hundreds lay behind the sumptuous animation, with every brush stroke done with infinite care.
Shiver me timbers factor: Was ever there a battle of wits fought with greater intensity as that between Captain Hook and the crocodile? Did wonders for pixie style haircuts and belief in fairies too. All together now, clap hands if you believe...
HMS: THE BLACK PIRATE
Entered log book: 1926
Starring: Douglas Fairbanks, Billie Dove
History: A silent era film with plenty of sound and fury, action wise. Fairbanks plays a son whose father has fallen victim to the dastardly ways of pirates. Will he turn the other cheek or go after revenge?
Shiver me timbers factor: No-one commanded a screen quite like Fairbanks, dubbed The First King of Hollywood by an exhibition devoted to his life and work. In an era where the competition to thrill audiences was tough, the athletic Fairbanks was forever daring, forever elegant.
Entered log book: 2007
Starring: Claire Danes, Ben Barnes, Michelle Pfeiffer.
History: Director Matthew Vaughn, whose previous directorial effort had been the crime thriller Layer Cake (starring Daniel Craig) showed he could turn in rattling good family entertainment in this story of magical and real worlds colliding. To boost the cuddliness factor, Take That did the theme song, Rule the World. Vaughn and screenwriter Jane Goldman (Jonathan Ross’s wife) teamed up again to make the harder edged comic book adventure, Kick-Ass.
Shiver me timbers factor: Robert De Niro, old Travis Bickle himself, playing a pirate who likes to hit the dressing up box.
Entered log book: 1986
Starring: Walter Matthau, Damien Thomas
History: Captain Red (Matthau) and his sidekick Frog (Cris Campion) are a small parcel of rogues who think they’re on to a winner when fate takes them to a Spanish colony.
Shiver me timbers factor: No watery grave would be too deep for this Roman Polanksi-directed effort. Meant to be a comedy, but the critics weren’t laughing. Roger Ebert wrote in his review: “Matthau is only partially visible behind his makeup and his costumes, but the part we can see appears to be totally at a loss to answer this question: What is Walter Matthau doing on the bounding main, wearing a peg leg?”
HMS: THE PIRATE
Entered log book: 1948
Starring: Gene Kelly, Judy Garland
History: The world of the pirate musical is not an overpopulated one. The Pirates of Penzance (1983) aside, this Vincente Minnelli directed spectacular is the pack leader. Judy Garland is Manuela, whose ideal man is a pirate. Takes all sorts. Enter handsome, bandana wearing Gene Kelly as Serafin the circus performer. The songs by Cole Porter included Be A Clown.
Shiver me timbers factor: One could say Gene Kelly’s moustache, but the dancing prince could get away with any look.
HMS: CAPTAIN BLOOD
Entered log book: 1935
Starring: Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland
History: From its dramatic title to its leading man, Errol Flynn, Captain Blood was an out and out crowd pleaser. Flynn plays Peter Blood, a rebel with a noble cause and a desire for a fair lady (Olivia de Havilland). Handsomely mounted in black and white, it’s full colour on the action and romance front.
Shiver me timbers factor: Captain Blood turned Flynn into the action star and swashbuckler extraordinaire he was born to be.