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Historical Background


Henry King. USA 1942.

Production Company: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Produced by: Robert Bassler
Distributor: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.

Screenplay: Ben Hecht, Seton I. Miller
Based on: Rafael Sabatini, The Black Swan. New York 1932

Cinematography: Leon Shamroy
Art Director: Richard Day, James Basevi
Film Editing: Barbara McLean
Set Decoration: Thomas Little
Music: Alfred Newman
Makeup artist: Guy Pearce

Tyrone Power (James Waring),
Maureen O'Hara (Margaret Denby),
Laird Cregar (Captain Henry Morgan),
Thomas Mitchell (Tommy Blue),
George Sanders (Captain Billy Leech),
Anthony Quinn (Wogan),
George Zucco (Lord Denby),
Edward Ashley (Roger Ingram),
Fortunio Bonanova (Don Miguel),
Stuart Robertson (Captain Graham),
Charles McNaughton (Fenner),
Frederick Worlock (Speaker),
Willie Fung (Chinese Cook),
Charles Francis (Higgs),
Arthur Shields (Bishop),
Keith Hitchcock (Major-domo),
John Burton (Captain Blaine),
Cyril McLaglen (Captain Jones),
Clarence Muse (Daniel),
Olaf Hytten (Clerk),
Charles Irwin, David Thursby, Frank Leigh (Sea captains),
Arthur Gould-Porter, C. Montague Shaw, Boyd Irwin, George Kirby (Assemblymen),
Rita Christiani (Dancer),
Billy Edmunds (Town crier),
Bryn Davis, Jody Gilbert


    In 1674, pirate James Waring is captured during a raid on a Jamaican town. The Spanish Don Miguel puts Jamie on the rack to question him about his commander. Captain Henry Morgan, who Jamie maintains is in England about to be hanged for piracy. Jamie is rescued by his compatriot, Tommy Blue, but they are stopped from torturing Don Miguel by Lord Denby, tells them that Spain and England have signed a peace treaty, and he decides to hang Denby for sending Morgan to trial. Jamie also tangles with Denby's high-spirited, beautiful daughter Margaret, but before he can carry out his plans. Morgan arrives. At a meeting of the pirates that evening, Morgan explains that he has received a pardon from King Charles II and has been made the new governor of Jamaica. In return, Morgan has promised to rid the Caribbean of pirates and maintain the peace between England and Spain. Morgan tells the men that if they will lay down their arms, they will receive a pardon and one hundred acres of land, but that if they do not, he will hunt them down. Captain Billy Leech and his second-in-command, Wogan, refuse to join and vow to take their ship, the Black Swan, to Maracaibo. Morgan takes Jamie and Tommy with him to the Government House in Port Royal, where he is sworn in by the reluctant assembly, which makes clear its animosity: Jamie attempts to romance Margaret, but she states that she prefers her fiancé, Roger Ingram. Unknown to Margaret, ingram has leaked information about an English treasure ship to Leech, and soon after, Leech plunders the ship and gives the captain's share to Ingram. Determined to capture Leech. Morgan sends Jamie after him, but Leech is able to elude him and plunder more English ships with Ingram's help. When Jamie returns to Port Royal to report his failure, the assembly votes to impeach Morgan, and Ingram states that he and Margaret will sail to England to take the news to the king. Morgan orders Jamie to capture Leech, and Jamie, determined to prevent Margaret's marriage to Ingram, shanghais her. They soon run into Leech, and in order to apprehend him, Jamie pretends to join him. Jamie and Leech sail to Maracaibo, where Morgan, who has had to flee Port Royal due to the outcry over Margaret's abduction, awaits them. Morgan believes that Jamie is in league with Leech, but after a fierce battle between the opposing forces, Jamie kills Leech and convinces Morgan of his loyalty. Morgan still insists that Jamie be hanged because of his treatment of Margaret, but she declares that she accompanied him of her own free will. Soon after, during their return to Jamaica, Margaret lovingly calls Jamie »Jamie Boy» three times, as he had predicted that she would.

    (Source: American Film Institute Catalog)

Historical Background:
The film is based in part on the real-life pirate Sir Henry Morgan (1635-1688). Welch-born Morgan and his men plundered the Caribbean in many daring raids until his arrest in 1672, after which he was sent to England for trial. Due to the deteriorating relations between England and Spain, however, King Charles II pardoned and knighted Morgan in 1674 and sent him back to Jamaica as the deputy governor.