Saturday Art: Essential Movies (Historical Settings Post 1500)
Avast Me Hearties! Tis the Pirate movies with which we start this week!
Any list of Essential Movies with historical settings after 1500 has to begin with Pirate movies and what better pirate movie to begin with than Captain Blood and Errol Flynn at his finest. The Sea Hawk is another good Flynn pirate movie as is Against All Flags (though in this one Flynn is a British officer fighting the pirates). Against All Flags does have Maureen O’Hara as a pirate. In The Spanish Main and The Black Swan she played the love interest of Paul Henreid and Tyrone Power respectively. While not a particularly good movie, Cutthroat Island allows Geena Davis to play the pirate. And of course, no listing of pirate movies these days can be complete without mentioning The Curse of the Black Pearl, Dead Man’s Chest, and At Land’s End, collectively part of the Pirates of the Caribbean series. Captain Peter Blood to Captain Jack Sparrow.
Power did a fair share of period movies beyond The Black Swan as well. Captain from Castille and Prince of Foxes as well as The Mark of Zorro. Other Zorro movies have included a re-make of The Mark of Zorro with Frank Langella in the title role, The Mask of Zorro and The Legend of Zorro each with Antonio Banderas as Zorro and who can forget Zorro, The Gay Blade with George Hamilton in a dual role.
There are many movies that have been set around the time of the Colonial period but the one that I like and have watched many times is Northwest Passage. Spencer Tracy and Robert Young.
Then we come to The Three Musketeers. It sometimes is difficult to choose which one is best. Is it the version with Gene Kelly as D’Artagnan, Michael York, or Chris O’Donnell? Cardinal Richelieu as played by Vincent Price, Charlton Heston or Tim Curry? MiLady De’ Winter played by Lana Turner, Faye Dunaway, or Rebecca DeMornay? Constance played by June Allyson or Racquel Welch? Michael York probably got the most mileage out of D’Artagnan with The Four Musketeers and The Return of the Musketeers. Then there is The Man in the Iron Mask. . . .
Some films set around the time of the French Revolution and leading to the Napoleon era have to start with The Scarlet Pimpernel. I am partial to the Leslie Howard Pimpernel. The Count of Monte Cristo is a good yarn. In a bit of a change of pace, I prefer the 2002 version rather than the 1934 version. Captain Horatio Hornblower and Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World are interesting sea yarns as well.
Moving forward to the end to the 19th century and very start of the 20th century there are a handful set during the British attempts at ruling the world. Gunga Din, The Man Who Would be King, and The Charge of the Light Brigade are probably not that historically accurate and I have to make allowances for some of the inherent racism but they are all good stories. And I will end this round with The Wind and the Lion, another one of those not quite politically correct movies but still a tale worth watching.
And because I can: