AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Dancing Pirate
Director: Lloyd Corrigan (Dir)
Release Date:   22 May 1936
Production Date:   15 Jan--mid-Mar 1936 at United Artists Studios
Duration (in mins):   85
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Cast:   Charles Collins (Jonathan Pride)  
    Frank Morgan (Alcalde [Don Emilio])  
    Steffi Duna (Serafina)  
    Luis Alberni (Pamfilo)  
    Victor Varconi (Don Baltazar)  
    Jack La Rue (Chago)  
    Alma Real (Blanca)  
    William V. Mong (Tecolote)  
    Mitchell Lewis (Pirate chief)  
    Julian Rivero (Shepherd)  
    John Eberts (Mozo)  
    Cansino Family (Royal Cansinos)  
    Harold Waldridge (Orville)  
    Vera Lewis (Orville's mother)  
    Nora Cecil (Landlady)  
    Ellen Lowe (Miss Ponsonby)  
    Max Wagner (Pirate mate)  
    James Farley (Sailor)  

Summary: One evening in 1820, dancing master Jonathan Pride, who specializes in teaching the waltz, is ambushed by pirates on the streets of Boston. Forced into hard labor, Jonathan sails around South America with the pirates and ends up on the coast of California, where he eventually tricks his way to freedom. Possessing only his aunt's umbrella and music box, Jonathan wanders into a Spanish village, whose alerted inhabitants greet him with cannon fire and gunshots. Caught hiding in the bedroom of Serafina, the alcalde's beautiful daughter, Jonathan is arrested and sentenced to hang without a trial. Despite Jonathan's protestations of innocence, the buffoonish alcalde, Don Emilio, and the jailer, Pamfilo, insist on the execution until Serafina hears that Jonathan is a dancing teacher who knows the waltz. With the other women behind her, Serafina forces a stay of execution for Jonathan, who gratefully offers to teach her the waltz. After overcoming an initial misunderstanding concerning the placement of hands, Jonathan mesmerizes Serafina, herself an accomplished dancer, with his waltz lessons. Before Jonathan can win permanent freedom, however, Don Baltazar and his men, renegade soldiers from Monterey, arrive and make him their prisoner. Don Emilio, who believes that Baltazar is still a respected military leader, treats him as an honored guest, and Serafina encourages his amorous affections in order to delay Jonathan's departure. Eventually, Baltazar strikes a lucrative marriage deal with Don Emilio and is about to wed Serafina when Jonathan, who has escaped his captors, shows up with a band of rope-wielding Indians. Once Baltazar and his men are tied up and revealed, Serafina continues her wedding, with Jonathan as her groom. 

Production Company: Pioneer Pictures, Inc.  
Distribution Company: RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.  
Director: Lloyd Corrigan (Dir)
Producer: John Speaks (Prod)
  Merian C. Cooper (Exec prod)
Writer: Ray Harris (Scr)
  Francis Edwards Faragoh (Scr)
  Jack Wagner (Adpt)
  Boris Ingster (Adpt)
Photography: William V. Skall (Photog)
Art Direction: W. B. Ihnen (Art dir)
  Robert Edmond Jones (Designed in color by)
Film Editor: Archie F. Marshek (Ed)
Music: Alfred Newman (Mus dir)
Sound: Fred Lau (Sd)
  Oscar Lagerstrom (Rec)
Special Effects: Willis H. O'Brien (Photog eff)
Dance: Russell Lewis (Dance dir)
Make Up: Max Factor (Makeup)
Color Personnel: Natalie Kalmus (Technicolor color dir)
Country: United States

Songs: "When You're Dancing the Waltz" and "Are You My Love?" words and music by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart.
Composer: Lorenz Hart
  Richard Rodgers
Source Text: Based on the short story "Glorious Buccaneer" by Emma Lindsay Squier in Collier's (27 Dec 1930).
Authors: Emma Lindsay Squier

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Pioneer Pictures, Inc. 22/5/1936 dd/mm/yyyy LP6422

PCA NO: 2162
Physical Properties: col: Technicolor
  Sd: Western Electric Wide Range Noiseless Recording

 
Genre: Comedy
  Comedy
Sub-Genre: with songs
  Historical
 
Subjects (Major): California--History--To 1846
  Dancers
  Dance teachers
  Hispanic Americans
  Mistaken identity
  Pirates
 
Subjects (Minor): Boston (MA)
  Escapes
  Executions
  Imprisonment
  Indians of North America
  Kidnapping
  Marriage--Arranged
  Mayors
  Renegades
  Ships
  Soldiers
  Village life
  Weddings

Note: Onscreen credits state that this film was the first color "dancing musical," and was "filmed 100% in new Technicolor." It was Pioneer Pictures' second and last three-strip Technicolor feature to be distributed by RKO. According to HR , Robert Benchley, on loan from M-G-M, teletyped dialogue for the film from New York, but was later replaced by credited writers Francis Edwards Faragoh and Ray Harris. The extent of Benchley's contribution to the final film, if any, has not been determined. A HR news item described color director Robert Edmond Jones's aesthetic approach as "imaginative" rather than "realistic," as he was attempting to "synchronize color, music and dancing" throughout the picture. Charles Collins, a veteran New York and London stage performer, made his screen debut in this production. HR production charts add Sherman Sanders and Cy Kendall to the cast, but their participation in the final film has not been confirmed. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Daily Variety   6 May 36   p. 3.
Film Daily   8 May 36   p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter   16 Jan 36   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   21 Jan 36   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   28 Jan 36   p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter   16 Mar 36   p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter   6 May 36   p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily   7 May 36   p. 6.
Motion Picture Herald   9 May 36   p. 38.
Motion Picture Herald   16 May 36   p. 33, 47-50.
MPSI   May 36   p. 26.
New York Times   18 Jun 36   p. 19.
Variety   24 Jun 36   p. 29.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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