Sunday, November 09, 2008

Tonight's Movie: The Black Swan (1942)

THE BLACK SWAN is a Technicolor swashbuckling spectacular starring Tyrone Power as a pirate and Maureen O'Hara as the fiesty governor's daughter he loves.

THE BLACK SWAN is based on a novel by Rafael Sabatini (CAPTAIN BLOOD) and it's simply terrific entertainment. This film has it all, starting with the two attractive leads. This ranks as one of Power's best adventure films, and he's at the peak of his career. O'Hara and Power became good friends making the film and would costar again in John Ford's THE LONG GRAY LINE in 1955. They are supported by George Sanders (unrecognizable as a red-bearded pirate), Laird Cregar, Thomas Mitchell, and Anthony Quinn.

I strongly suspect the creators of Disneyland's PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN must have been influenced at least to an extent by THE BLACK SWAN; the first ten minutes or so, depicting the pirates' plunder of a port city, seem to be the Disney ride come to life on film.

One of the best things about the movie is the amazing Technicolor photography; the movie is visually stunning and led to Maureen O'Hara becoming known as "The Queen of Technicolor." Cinematographer Leon Shamroy won the Oscar for THE BLACK SWAN. Shamroy also won the Oscar for Gene Tierney's LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN (1945). Together, THE BLACK SWAN and LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN are probably the two greatest examples of the incredibly lush Fox Technicolor of the '40s. Shamroy was nominated for 18 Oscars over the course of his career, winning a total of four times. According to one website, Shamroy is one of only five cinematographers who have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Shamroy, incidentally, also filmed last night's movie, CLAUDIA.

THE BLACK SWAN also boasts a fine score by Alfred Newman. The film runs 85 minutes.

The movie was directed by Henry King. King made many outstanding movies at Fox, including THE SONG OF BERNADETTE, MARGIE, CAPTAIN FROM CASTILE, TWELVE O'CLOCK HIGH, THE GUNFIGHTER, LOVE IS A MANY-SPLENDORED THING, and CAROUSEL.

THE BLACK SWAN is available on video and DVD. The DVD, which is No. 38 in the Fox Studio Classics series, includes a commentary track by Maureen O'Hara and film historian Rudy Behlmer.


Blogger Unknown said...

For some reason I love Rudy Behlmer's commentaries so Ill have to pick this one up! I also enjoyed the Flynn set's pirate films.

2:55 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

If you like movies like CAPTAIN BLOOD you will probably like this one too.

I listened to the first half of the commentary track last night and found it very enjoyable. Behlmer and O'Hara were recorded together and have a fun conversation, alternating between her sharing memories and him providing factual background and biographical info.

Best wishes,

7:38 AM  

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