The Black Pirate | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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The Black Pirate


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Two-strip Technicolor--in which red orange and blue green exposures of the same action were fused into a single length of celluloid--was being used in silent films as early as 1922, but this rousing 1926 swashbuckler was the first full-length two-strip feature. Douglas Fairbanks stars as a Spanish nobleman who loses his father in a pirate attack and vows to bring the killers to justice; after infiltrating the pirate crew he proves himself by capturing a ship single-handedly, then complicates his scheme by falling for the lovely princess on board (Billie Dove). Fairbanks was always a kinetic presence, and his assault on the ship includes one of his most celebrated stunts: he perches atop a sail, then pierces it with a knife and slides down the length of the fabric. As producer he was equally active behind the camera, penning the story (under the pseudonym Elton Thomas) and supervising months of experimentation to achieve the film's rich but naturalistic tones. 90 min. This is the most elaborate program in the Silent Film Society of Chicago's annual summer festival; organist Dennis James and the 30-piece Lincolnwood Chamber Orchestra will perform the original Mortimer Wilson score. Copernicus Center, 5216 W. Lawrence, Friday, August 2, 8:15, 773-777-9438.

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