Monday, July 09, 2007

Tonight's Movie: Against All Flags (1952)

AGAINST ALL FLAGS is a fast-paced, giddy Saturday matinee style pirate movie with Errol Flynn, Maureen O'Hara, and Anthony Quinn as sword-wielding buccaneers. The film doesn't have the classic qualities of Flynn's CAPTAIN BLOOD, but it's great fun nonetheless, as Flynn's character, who is actually a British spy, kisses and duels his way through various predicaments.

Flynn was in his early 40s when he made AGAINST ALL FLAGS, but he looks a bit older, due to the wear and tear of his hard living off-camera. However, he's lost none of his usual panache and is as entertaining as ever. The lovely Maureen lives up to her character's nickname, "Spitfire," proving she can shoot and duel as well as any pirate.

One of the film's biggest attributes is its absolutely stunning Technicolor, which is shown off to great effect on the DVD. Red-haired Maureen is dressed in green most of the film, and she looks truly amazing.

There is an obvious use of matte paintings in shots on the pirate island, but they add to the movie's period charm.

The film contains seemingly every pirate cliche in the book, to the extent it seems that, along with CAPTAIN BLOOD, it must have helped inspire Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean. There's even a bride auction sequence.

I was trying to figure out why one of the British ship's officers looked familiar, when my husband exclaimed "I know who it is, it's Maureen O'Hara's brother!" He was right -- Charles Fitzsimons has a bit part as a Flag Lieutenant. The same year AGAINST ALL FLAGS was released, Fitzsimons played Hugh, one of the two tavern singers, in his sister's classic film THE QUIET MAN. In the late '50s he moved into producing, eventually serving as Executive Director of the Producer's Guild.

The supporting cast includes the always-entertaining Mildred Natwick -- another QUIET MAN veteran -- in the improbable role of the Scottish governess to an Indian emperor's ditzy daughter. The daughter is played by Alice Kelley, who left films when she married Kenneth Norris, Jr., in 1953. Norris was well-known as a Los Angeles philanthropist. He was a USC graduate, and USC's USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center is but one of the projects supported by the Norris family.

AGAINST ALL FLAGS runs 83-84 minutes. It was directed by George Sherman, who had a long career as a director and producer, specializing in Westerns.

The movie has been released on DVD as part of the four-film set Pirates of the Golden Age. The other films in the set are BUCCANEER'S GIRL, DOUBLE CROSSBONES, and YANKEE BUCCANEER. The rest of the family watched YANKEE BUCCANEER when I was busy one evening, and they found it on the silly side. We haven't tried the other films yet.

AGAINST ALL FLAGS has also been released on video.

Recommended for lighthearted fun.

Update: This movie is now also available as a single-title DVD release in the Universal Vault series.

May 2020 Update: Kino Lorber will release AGAINST ALL FLAGS on Blu-ray in July 2020.

August 2020 Update: My review of the Kino Lorber Blu-ray may be found here.


Blogger Irene said...

Thanks for the heads up on this. Today I purchased the second season of Beauty and the Beast and so I picked up this DVD too.

8:31 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I hope you like the movie!

I think I'm going to hold off on BEAUTY AND THE BEAST Season 2 and hope for a good sale price, since we're still working on watching Season 1. (So many shows to watch, so little time...!)

Best wishes,

8:36 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Irene, I've watched the first half of BUCCANEER'S GIRL and think it's great fun. Hope to finish it and post tomorrow night. Let me know what you think!

Best wishes,

11:28 PM  

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