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"The Black Swan": The Spanish Main in Technicolour

The Times (London), April 29, 1943 page 6

"And that is the end of the Spanish Main," exclaims Sir Henry Morgan (Mr. Laird Cregar) as Mr. Tyrone Power and Miss Maureen O'Hara kiss against the background of a technicolour sky, and, indeed, it does seem that that graphic geographical expression will never quite be the same again.

What true history of place and period can compete with this generous version of Mr. Rafael Sabatini's novel, and what true history would wish to? Here is the Spanish Main as it should have been, a little cleaner and better barbered perhaps-- the ginger hair, moustachios, and beard of Mr. George Sanders, as the villainous Captain Leech, are never for a moment out of curl-- but a rollicking, roaring, romantic world of flashing swords and belching broadsides at the centre of which lies coyly curled the Hollywood conception of the spirit of those times. And how curious that conception is. Anachronisms of speech and behaviour continually break in, and Mr. Power in making love, hesitates between the grip of the all-in wrestler and the subtle approach of the psychologist. Miss O'Hara, however, is never at a loss for the quip which will ease her out of both the physical and mental forms of attack, and, as lady Margaret Denby, behaves precisely as that composite character should.

There is, besides, the genuine beauty of the technicolour. The greys and blues of the interiors, the scarlets and crimsons of sash, cloak, and sunset, the incidental glimpse of a white sail against a background of storm, the light on a sword flourished in the dark; these are perpetually forming fugitive but enchanting pictures. The Black Swan belongs in spirit to the world when the cinema was young and, as such, it is welcome to-day.

The Black Swan will be seen at the Odeon Cinema to-morrow.

© 1943 The Times

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