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The Pirate [Judy Garland, Gene Kelly]

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The Pirate (1948) starring Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, Walter Slezak
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The Pirate (1948) starring Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, Walter Slezak

The Pirate is a fun-filled and musical case of mistaken identity when lonely Judy Garland mistakes traveling clown Gene Kelly for a famed Caribbean pirate. But what happens when the real pirate rears his head?


In short, The Pirate is an enjoyable romantic musical comedy. The basic plot has Gene Kelly as leader of a traveling troupe of entertainers. They land on a Caribbean island, where a beautiful young lady longs for a life of adventure. But, she’s engaged to the mayor of the island — and her marriage is imminent. So, the entertainer pretends to be a legendary pirate, and win her heart. But, the actual legendary pirate is alive and well … on the island. And he doesn’t appreciate it…

Highlight include multiple dance routine by Gene Kelly (some of which are hilarious), singing by Judy Garland, and the always-delightful Walter Slezak as the tyrannicidal mayor.

Cast of characters

  • Judy Garland (In the Good Old Summertime) as Manuela Alva. She lives in the small Caribbean village of Calvados. She dreams of an exciting life, being swept away by the legendary Pirate, Macoco. However, her aunt and uncle, who have raised her, insist that she marry the town mayor.
  • Gene Kelly (An American in Paris) as Serafin. The leader of a traveling circus. He’s a ladies’ man, until he falls in love with Manuela at first site. He asks her to break her engagement. Later, the circus arrives in her town on her wedding day. He asks her to marry him, but Don Pedro interrupts … and Serafin recognizes who he really is …
  • Walter Slezak (The Inspector General) as Mayor Don Pedro Vargas, a.k.a. Mack “the Black” Macoco. Yes, the portly mayor is secretly the dread pirate Macoco — retired. Out of shape, but no less dangerous than he was in his prime. And Serafin tries to blackmail him with the knowledge of his true identity. And … pretend that Serafin is actually Macoco, to win Manuela’s heart!
  • Reginald Owen (The Great Diamond Robbery) as The Advocate.
  • George Zucco (The Mad Ghoul) as The Viceroy. Don Pedro convinces the Viceroy that Serafin is the real Macoco and should hang for it. What better way to get rid of a romantic rival?


  • Nina, Written by Cole Porter, Performed by Gene Kelly
  • Mack the Black, Written by Cole Porter, Sung by Judy Garland, Danced by Gene Kelly
  • You Can Do No Wrong, Written by Cole Porter, Performed by Judy Garland
  • Be a Clown, Written by Cole Porter, Sung by Gene Kelly, Danced by Gene Kelly and The Nicholas Brothers, Also performed by Gene Kelly and Judy Garland
  • Love of My Life, Written by Cole Porter, Performed by Judy Garland

Editorial review of The Pirate courtesy of

Judy Garland and Gene Kelly star in this romantic musical about a sheltered young woman living in a Caribbean port who dreams of dashing pirate–and about the smitten troubadour who impersonates the pirate to win her heart.

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