After the ship he’s on is taken over and destroyed by a band of pirates, the Duke of Anoldo (Douglas Fairbanks) and his father survive and make their way to a deserted island. The Duke’s father dies shortly afterward and he vows to avenge his father’s death by getting revenge on the pirates. When the pirates also arrive on the island to hide the treasure they’ve found, the Duke decides the best way to get revenge is to become the Black Pirate and try to beat the pirates at their own game by joining their band. First he proves his worthy by demonstrating his skills with a sword, then takes over a ship on his own.
When the pirates get on the ship, they realize a Princess (Billie Dove) is on board and the Black Pirate urges them to hold her hostage so they can get a ransom. Of course, to get a ransom, the Princess has to remain safe so the Black Pirate tries to protect her from some of the other pirates who are trying to sabotage his efforts. When the Black Pirate finds out their lives are in danger, he tries to get himself and the Princess out of harm’s way, but other pirates believe he is trying to escape and force him to walk the plank. But it’s hardly the end for the Black Pirate!
The Black Pirate is the kind of movie that makes me wish I had a time machine so I could travel back in time and seen in theaters when it was first released in. I can imagine the audience reactions would have been absolutely off the charts, between the thrilling action sequences and that glorious two-strip technicolor. Even nearly 90 years after its original release, Douglas Fairbanks’s stunt work is still nothing less than a true marvel to behold. Fairbanks’s performance wasn’t “good for its time,” it’s still a real tour de force. If Fairbanks were alive and working in today’s film industry, there’s no doubt in my mind that he’d still be the go-to star for all the top action blockbusters.