Directed by: Frank Borzage
Countries & Regions: United States
Length: 100 mins
Region: Region 0
Released: 26 March 2012
Cat No: ODNF333
Screen ratio 1:1.33
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The Spanish Main
Swashbuckling romantic adventure starring Paul Henreid and Maureen O’Hara. Shipwrecked sea captain Laurent Van Horn (Henreid) and his... Read More
You can always rely on films about pirates for rumbustious, thigh-slapping fun. Indeed, this splendid high seas caper acts as a virtual definition of the verb 'to rollick'. Our hero is that notorious rapscallion 'The Barracuda' (Henreid), a buccaneer with a special dislike of Don Alvarado, the local nabob whose foul treatment begat The Barracuda's villainy. So when The Barracuda captures Countess Francesca (Maureen O'Hara in full flight), Alvarado's bride-to-be, he sees the perfect opportunity for revenge. Except..
Shot in luminous Technicolor (and, for once, that's not a figure of speech), this is piracy at its finest. Frank Borzage wasn't an obvious choice to direct – he specialised in sincere melodramas – but he shows a keen sense of fun and, unusually for a swashbuckler, allows the romance to genuinely smoulder.
If Henreid makes a fine hero, he's thoroughly upstaged by Walter Slezak as Alvarado. Lazy, vain and pompous, Alvarado is one of Hollywood's great villains. It's a measure the film's quality that he never overwhelms proceedings, remaining instead the perfect topping on an indulgent treat.