“The best big-time musical show presented on screen or onstage in years”

Rhapsodized by many critics and buffs, The Pirate was crafted by Minnelli as a beautiful, sophisticated “stretch” for both Judy and costar Gene Kelly. But the finished product (even as rearranged in editing and retakes) was scarcely what their core audiences expected—as reflected by the film’s “soft” box office on initial release. To this day, the picture stirs both rabid appreciation and disinterest.

Cole Porter wrote the five new songs, including “Be a Clown,” “Mack the Black,” and “Nina.” Meanwhile, the stars’ happily stylized performances were matched by the brio of Walter Slezak, Gladys Cooper, and the incomparable Nicholas Brothers.

Print courtesy of Academy Film Archive.