The Black Pirate (1926) BFI London Film Festival 2023

September 20th, 2023
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: Albert Parker | Douglas Fairbanks, Billie Dove, Tempe Pigott, Donald Crisp | US Action drama 88′

The Technicolor Corporation’s most ambitious undertaking to date was the only production made in what was officially known as ‘Technicolor Process #2”.

Fairbanks Sr had considered making a pirate film as early as 1923, a project he envisaged all along as the perfect subject to be tackled in colour; he’d been favourably impressed with the results Technicolor had so far achieved so he thought he would give the process a shot.

It certainly raised Technicolor’s profile, and the results (as the archive screening coming up at the London Film Festival attests) on it’s own terms survives as a most satisfying entertainment with memorable stunts (the most famous being a slide by Fairbanks down the sails of a ship and vivid uses of colour; but the victory proved Pyrrhic since making the film proved a big enough challenge, and the real headache began when they tried to repeat the effect in mass-produced prints.

So it was back to the drawing board for Technicolor while Fairbanks never tried the process again. @RichardChatten


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