The Pirate

Garland sings, Kelly dances in the Caribbean.
  • Review Date: July 24, 2006
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Musical
  • Release Year: 1948
  • Running Time: 102 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Typical 1948 gender and race portrayals (i.e. not great).

Violence & scariness

Some cartoonish violence, throwing objects.

Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that there's not much to worry about here. Characters deceive each other. There are no role models, but there is, of course, a happy ending.

Kids say

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What's the story?

With songs by Cole Porter, this colorful Vincente Minnelli period piece is about Manuela (Judy Garland), whose status-seeking aunt arranges for her to marry a rich local in their small Caribbean town. But the girl is starry-eyed for the dashing and infamous pirate "Mack the Black" Macoco. When traveling actor Serafin (Gene Kelly) spots Manuela during one of his troupe's performances, he chooses her for a hypnosis demonstration (in which she breaks into a show-stopping song). When she awakens to her embarrassment, she hurries home to dutifully accept her rum-pot of a fiancé. Serafin follows Manuela and, in trying to woo her, poses as Mack the Black. Upon learning of Serafin's deception, the previously swooning Manuela attacks him in a comical scene of cartoonish violence. No vase is spared.

Is it any good?


The Pirate is charming but, given its all-star cast and crew, a little disappointing. Don't expect to get too invested in the characters' lives or see development. The costumes and sets look phony (though storybook-familiar to your kids) and, although this is a period piece, the colonial-era Caribbean is clearly an MGM sound stage. Moreover, the obligatory dream sequence in which Gene Kelly dances around flames in thigh-high cut-offs is dated, to say the least.

One dance number with Kelly and the Nicholas Brothers makes the film especially memorable. Some theater owners cut the scene when it was released in 1948 because it portrayed African Americans on equal footing -- at least in the fancy footwork sense -- with whites.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about gender roles in the 1940s. How does Serafin treat women as he sings "Nina"? Based on what Manuela knows about the legendary pirate Macoco, why is she attracted to him? Stock portrayals of certain "types" can be the center of a discussion about gender, race, and beauty. Does Manuela dread marrying Don Pedro for any reason other than his looks? How do mob mentality and public opinion factor into the characters' fates?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:June 11, 1948
DVD release date:April 1, 1992
Cast:Ellen Ross, Gene Kelly, Judy Garland
Director:Vincente Minnelli
Run time:102 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent of a 6 and 8 year old Written bysmabadi April 11, 2009
age 6+

Great for the family, even boys!

This is a great movie for the whole family. I enjoyed it as much as my two boys did (well, they didn't like the kissing.) The music and dancing and story are lots of fun.


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