The best pirate movies ever, in no particular order, are…
An all-star cast including Dustin Hoffman as Hook and Robin Williams as a grown up Peter Pan help make Hook a film for all ages. And it has the only film scene in which a pirate is eaten by a giant stuffed crocodile clock (as far as we’re aware). Our favourite scenes are at the Lost Boys' hideout. Bangarang!
Savage Islands (1983)
Worth it just for the rare chance to see a youthful Tommy Lee Jones sporting a beard and flowing white man blouse. Plenty of swashbuckling action and a feisty floating love triangle awaits.
The Buccaneer (1958)
Set in the War of 1812, as New Orleans is preparing to defend itself against a marauding British fleet, Yul Brynner stars as local pirate Jean Lafitte, who only loots foreign vessels, but is still wanted by the authorities for not paying tax on his pieces of eight.
Blackbeard's Ghost (1968)
A ghost-pirate-out-of-water story as Blackbeard's ghost finds himself in the present day (well, in 1968, to be more precise). Cue plenty of slapstick action as Blackbeard tries to do a good deed to escape from limbo, while in a constant state of inebriation from all that duty-free ghost rum he's been drinking.
The Pirate (1948)
Judy Garland shares our love of pirates, so much so that she's about walk the plank, er, aisle with one. But she doesn't know his past, which means she might choose to elope with the performer pretending to be the pirate her fiance used to be. Confusing, isn’t it? Lots of circus troupes and retired swashbucklers, but not so much in the way of water borne action.
Against All Flags (1952)
In one of the few pirate movies to feature a female captain, Errol Flynn stars opposite Maureen O'Hara in this tale of the Royal Navy versus the pirates of Madagascar. Sent by the Navy to bust open the pirate HQ from the inside, and featuring love squares as well as triangles.
The Goonies (1985)
A bunch of misfit kids search for the infamous One Eyed Willie’s treasure, hidden behind a perilous path of deadly boobie traps and a frightening encounter with the Fratelli mob. The real villains of the story? The evil land developers. How can you not love a movie that brought us the Truffle Shuffle?
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
Johnny Depp’s now iconic Jack Sparrow captured our imaginations as a scallywag sea captain with comical charm and a drunken Keith Richards swagger. He even managed to upstage the Black Pearl’s CGI undead pirates. A rare box office pirate smash.
The Island (1980)
Based on a novel of the same name, a journalist (Michael Caine) and his son are captured by a bunch of inbred buccaneers who’ve inhabited The Island for 300 years. Interbreeding has taken its toll, so they see Caine’s son as a way of changing their depleting gene pool. And in the end? Well, we’ll just save that little corker for you.
Captain Blood (1935)
Slavery, mutiny, uprising – Captain Blood has it all. Dr Blood finds himself falsely convicted of treason and sold into slavery in Jamaica. So far, so un-piratey. Things heat up when Blood and his pals revolt and take over a Spanish ship that's attacking the city, to become the most feared pirates on the seas. It all goes pear-shaped when Blood goes back to rescue a girl. Typical.
Blackbeard the Pirate (1952)
Robert Newton portrays a figure of pure evil as Blackbeard, alongside Bill Bendix as Worley, his dim-witted first mate. His one liners – "Gilly, Gilly, give him just a tickle with the point of your blade, at about his liver” – make this movie a classic. And if you thought Newton's "Arr, matey"s were a bit overboard in Treasure Island, wait till you see this.
Cutthroat Island (1995)
Listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the biggest box office flop of all time, but don’t let that stop you watching Cutthroat Island. Geena Davis scalps her dead father for the final piece of a map leading to huge stash of hidden gold. Thar's plenty more blood and gore, too, as Davis races against the clock to complete her quest before her crew mutiny against her.
More after the break...
Muppet Treasure Island (1996)
Tim Curry plays the peg-legged Long John Silver amongst a crew of swashbuckling muppets in this good-natured musical rendition of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel. Who says that piracy and puppets don’t mix?
Dick Deadeye (1975)
Based on the comic operas of Gilbert and Sullivan, Dick Deadeye (which we can confirm is not the name of a porn star) is an animated musical following the unfortunately named protagonist on a quest to recover ‘the ultimate secret’ for Queen Victoria from a crafty sorcerer.
Mysterious Island (1961)
This sequel to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea sees a group of escaped US union prisoners strand themselves on an island – and they’re not alone. A giant crab becomes their first meal, but bigger and scarier creatures threaten to return the favour until the legendary Captain Nemo arrives. No, he’s not a clown fish.
There aren’t many good reasons to release a pirate from a prison, although following him to his buried treasure is a pretty valid one. There’s nothing quite like a good old fashioned race for treasure between the Navy and a bunch of pirates to get the sea rover blood stirring.
Treasure Island (1950)
Lacking in talking pigs, frogs (or whatever that blue one with the hooked nose is), this 1950’s adaptation of Treasure Island was not only Disney’s first ever live-action film, but was also the first screen version of the famous novel to be produced in colour.
The Scarlet Buccaneer (1976)
The Scarlet Buccaneer sees a fiery noblewoman team up with a pirate to battle the oppressive rule of a Jamaican tyrant. At the time, this was the only pirate movie filmed aboard an actual ship of that era – a replica of a ship captured by Sir Francis Drake himself.
A High Wind in Jamaica (1965)
Captain Chavez proves that pirates with soft spots don’t last very long. Ultimately betrayed by a child hostage who blames him for the stabbing of a Dutch captain – it’s a fairly anticlimactic way to join Davy Jones’ locker.
The Princess Bride (1987)
Don’t be put off by the title, or the promised story of (yuck!) true love. Rob Reiner’s rapier-sharp pirate comedy has the best sword fight you’ll ever see on film and a cast that includes Andre the Giant, Peter Falk, Mel Smith, Billy Crystal, Robin Wright, Christopher Guest, Peter Cook and Fred ‘Wonder Years’ Savage.
The Pirates of Penzance (1983)
You haven’t seen this lively version of Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic opera, which walked the Broadway planks before seizing upon Shepperton studios. It sunk on release, but mainly because a licensing fracas led to a mutiny from cinemas.
Treasure Planet (2002)
Treasure Island too trad? The Little Mermaid’s creators skipped Treasure Island on Ice and went directly to Treasure Island in Space for 2002’s Treasure Planet. It bombed at the box office (something of a trend for pirate movies) but picked up a nomination for Best Animated Feature at the Oscars. Then lost to Spirited Away.
Swiss Family Robinson (1960)
Disney’s story of a shipwrecked family is usually remembered for its inventive use of homemade gadgetry, but let’s not forget those gadgets were used to defend the desert island from evil pirates. Don’t expect laser-sighted coconut bomb launchers, but there’s a low-rent charm to this classic.
It took 12 years to makes Pirates. Not because it was technically difficult to make, but because the director spent much of that time country-hopping to avoid imprisonment in the US. Surely there’s no better qualification to make a pirate movie than that?
The Ice Pirates (1984)
It’s the future. Space pirates travel through time, hunting for the hidden treasure of the universe: water. Oh, and it’s a comedy. What’s not to green light? Overlook the duff mid-80s production and underbaked humour and The Ice Pirates is a worthy 90 minutes of hangover fuel.