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Anne of the Indies (1951) February 24, 2007

Posted by jackal in : Films , trackback

Not one of Jacques Tourneur’s better-known films, this technicolor swashbuckler from 1951 is a surprisingly fun, if minor, addition to the genre. The twist with this film is that the scoundrel pirate captain is a woman: Jean Peters - of whose charms I am an unreserved fan - is the title character, captain of the Sheba Queen. Orphaned as a child, she was raised by the larger-than-life Captain Blackbeard (the wonderful Thomas Gomez) and naturally chose the same life. Among her crew of rogues, Herbert Marshall gives a typically solid performance as the ship’s drunken yet principled doctor, who acts as voice of conscience to the headstrong Anne.

Blackbeard and Anne

When a young Frenchman (a fresh-faced Louis Jourdan) is captured from a plundered English ship, Anne recruits him as her navigator and, despite the warnings of her crew, begins to fall for him. When “Frenchie” reveals that he was in search of hidden treasure (aren’t they always?) before being captured by the British, he and Anne join forces to track it down.

Jean Peters and Herbert Marshall

A bar-room brawl and cutlass fight later, things are looking promising if predictable, but there are a few of twists yet to come. I won’t pretend I liked all of them, and the last act didn’t work for me at all (the film could also have used another 15 minutes to wrap the story up properly), but I still enjoyed this knockabout caper a lot more than I’d expected to. Peters seems to enjoy the chance to play such a baaaad (in a good way) character, and I have to say she does a pretty convincing job in the sword fights, too (I certainly couldn’t spot a stunt double).

There’s a nice French DVD out there, from which my copy came, and with this being a Fox film, a UK or US release will hopefully follow before too long. It may not be in the same league as Captain Blood, but Anne of the Indies is still perfect matinee viewing.

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