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20th Anniversary!
The Pirate starring Judy Garland & Gene Kelly






February 17 - August 14, 1947
August 27 - October 21, 1947
November 18, 1947




102 minutes


June 11, 1948





The Pirate can be considered "Judy's cult film". Producer Arthur Freed said that it was "twenty years ahead of it's time". Indeed, the film is unlike any other musical (or other film) released in 1948. People either love it or hate it. There is no in-between. It's lauded for Minnelli's use of color and Gene Kelly's dancing although critics were (and still are) divided on the merits of the acting. Some felt it was over-acted. Others loved the high farce the production was going for. I personally love Judy's performance in the film. Yes, sometimes you can see some of the strain she was under, but overall her talents as a comedienne really shine through. promothepirate

The production was plagued with problems from the start. This was Judy's return to the studio after giving birth to Liza Minnelli and she suffered severe postpartum depression. She also did not relish the thought of returning to the intense grind (and dieting) required in making musicals. She had been talked into renewing her MGM contract paying her an incredible $6,000.00 per week and requiring she only make two films a year. Later she would say that it was "one of the classic mistakes of my life".

But all of the issues can't be blamed solely on Judy. The script went through many changes. Most famously the Anita Loos and Joseph Than take on the story altered the premise by making the pirate impersonate an actor impersonating a pirate, rather than the more believable story of an actor impersonating a pirate (who happens to have become the mayor of the town). The husband-wife writing team of Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett were brought in to re-write the script.

The music went through many changes as well. The first scoring of "Mack The Black" had what Freed called a sound "like a Chinese carnival", i.e. very over arranged and shrill. When going through a rehearsal of "You Can Do No Wrong", Judy and Porter had words over the pronunciation of the word "caviar". The argument was attributed to Judy being over medicated, because she normally adored Porter and his talent. "Love Of My Life" was also re-recorded.

Over the years, The Pirate has become one of Garland fan's most well loved films in spite of its minor faults. It may not make the top 10 list of everyone's favorite musicals, but it was a great experiment at the time and helped advance the film musical to the heights it would achieve in just a few years.


This was the only film Judy made at MGM that did not turn a profit. The studio reported a loss of $2,290,00, although this included unused screenplay drafts and other work dating all the way back to 1943.

The "Be A Clown" song and dance by Gene Kelly and The Nicholas Brothers was shot in one day on July 9, 1947.

On August 29, 1947 producer Arthur Freed along with Judy, Vincente Minnelli, Irving Berlin and Cole Porter viewed a rough cut of the film. Porter did not like the film, even though Freed and Berlin sang its praises. Porter is reported as saying "We shall see." Porter went on to report that he felt The Pirate was "a $5,000,000 Hollywood picture that was unspeakably wretched, the worst that money could buy."


Screenland Magazine 1948CAST:

Judy Garland as Manuela Alva

Gene Kelly as Serafin

Walter Slezak as Don Pedro Vargas

Gladys Cooper as Aunt Inez

Reginald Owen as the Advocate

George Zucco as the Viceroy

The Nicholas Brothers as Specialty Dancers

Lester Allen as Uncle Capucho

Lola Deem as Isabella

Ellen Ross as Mercedes

Mary Jo Ellis as Lizarda

Jean Dean as Casilda

Marion Murray as Eloise

Ben Lessey as Gumbo

Jerry Bergen as Bolo

Val Setz as Juggler

Gaudsmith Brothers as Themselves

Cully Richards as Trillo


(Gene Kelly)

Mack the Black
(Judy Garland)

The Pirate Ballet
(Gene Kelly dance)

You Can Do No Wrong
(Judy Garland)

Be a Clown
(Gene Kelly and The Nicholas Brothers)

Love of My Life
(Judy Garland)

Be a Clown
(Judy Garland and Gene Kelly)

Voodoo (outtake)
(Judy Garland)




Produced by: Arthur Freed

Directed by: Vincente Minnelli

Screen Play by: Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich

Based on the Play by S. N. Behrman as produced by The Playwrights Producing Company and The Theatre Guild
(some sources also credit Lillian Braun, Anita Loos, Joseph L. Mankiewicz, Joseph Than and Wilkie Mahoney as having contributed to the writing)

Musical Direction: Lennie Hayton

Instrumental Arrangements: Conrad Salinger

Songs by: Cole Porter

Dance Direction by: Robert Alton and Gene Kelly

Art Directors: Cedric Gibbons and Jack Martin Smith

Paintings by: Doris Lee

Set Decorations: Edwin B. Willis

Associate: Arthur Krans

Costume Supervision: Irene

Costumes Designed by: Tom Keogh

And Executed by: Karinska

Hair Styles Designed by: Sydney Guilaroff

Make-Up Created by: Jack Dawn

Recording Director: Douglas Shearer

Director of Photography: Harry Stradling

Color by Technicolor

Technicolor Color Director: Natalie Kalmus

Associate: Henri Jaffa

Film Editor: Blanche Sewell