Against All Flags (1952) 

 

 

Director:     George Sherman.

Starring:     Errol Flynn (Brian Hawke), Maureen O'Hara (Prudence 'Spitfire' Stevens), Anthony Quinn (Capt. Roc Brasiliano), Alice Kelley (Princess Patma), Mildred Natwick (Molvina MacGregor), Robert Warwick (Capt. Kidd), Harry Cording (Gow), John Alderson (Jonathan Harris), Phil Tully (Jones), Lester Matthews (Sir Cloudsley), Tudor Owen (Williams), Maurice Marsac (Capt. Moisson), James Craven (Capt. Hornsby), James Fairfax (Krukshank - Barber).

1700, the pirates of Madagascar menace the India trade (with Errol Flynn)

 

 

Spoiler Warning: 

‘"In 1700 A.D. the Pirate Republic of Libertatia on the Island of Madagascar was a constant menace to the rich trade routes to India. Several days sail from this Pirate fortress is the British merchant ship Monsoon."

On the ship a man named Hawk is being lashed for some offense. After the lashing, they take Hawke to his cabin. Hawke is going to engage in a little espionage. He will be put ashore at dark and he should reach Diego Suarez within ten days. Jones and Harris will accompany Hawke. In the meantime, the Captain will meet with Sir Cloudsley. They will rendezvous with the man off of Cape Town, South Africa. The Captain will meet with Cloudsley on the man-of-war ship. Later they will cruise outside of the northernmost tip of Madagascar and Hawke will send up a rocket flare as arranged.

The longboat approaches the shore. Three pirates have been watching the men. They ride down to the shore to meet the men. They will take the sailors to Captain Roc Brasiliano.

Captain Roc disciplines one of his crew members for hiding booty by throwing knives at the man until the fellow is so scared that he breaks down and admits his offense. He then walks to the port village to the beautiful red-head known as Spitfire. Spitfire tells the Captain that after what happened last night, she doesn’t want anything to do with him anymore.

The two people are interrupted by the arrival of the three British sailors in the village. Hawke says that they are deserters off the ship the Monsoon. The Captain asks what Hawke wants here? Hawke answers: "Why, to sail against all flags, naturally." The Captain tells Hawke that he doesn’t like the cut of his sail (because Hawke ignored the Captain to get to talk to Spitfire). Hawke answers back: "I don’t much care for the cut of your own." Captain Roc says that Hawke will appear before the Captains of the Coast who will decide whether the lieutenant lives or dies.

Hawke and the two sailors are put into irons. Hawke gets a shave from the barber. Spitfire pays for the shave. She talks as if she might buy Hawke to use as a sailor. Spitfire has her own ship and is one of the Captains of the Coast.

Hawke and the guys go before the Captains of the Coast. Captain Kidd is there on the committee, along with Spitfire and two other captains. Captain Roc speaks up against Hawke, but in doing so, offends the much older and wiser Kidd. Spitfire says that the three sailors are on trial, not Captain Kidd.

They give Hawke a challenge – to fight and kill the booty-concealing sailing master. Hawke wins the contest with a little help from Spitfire, who shoots a bottle out of the hand of the sailing master. Hawke gets his pike up by the sailing master’s throat and the man begs for mercy. Hawke says the man deserves it, because he, Hawke, got some assistance from Spitfire.  The sailing master is spared.

Hawke passes the challenge and is made the navigator on Captain Roc’s ship. He goes to a gunsmith to buy two pistols and a sword. He learns from the gunsmith there that Spitfire also owns this store, in addition to her ship.

Spitfire dresses up in a nice evening gown and tells Hawke that she wants to speak to him in private. He goes with her to her private room. There he flirts with her and then tries to kiss her. She stops him by putting her pistol into his mid-section, while telling him to move back. She says she will kiss when she wants to kiss. She now asks him to move on. He leaves.

Now Hawke sails with Captain Roc, who tells him that Hawke has been nothing but a Jonah for the men so far on the voyage. They sight a ship nearby and Hawke says that’s the Qutabuddin. It‘s Aurangzeb’s own ship of state. The man might be the Grand Mogul, the Emperor of India.

Captain Roc wants to take the ship, in spite of Hawke’s caution that this will bring the fire of the British on Roc’s head. The pirate ship opens fire on the Indian ship, where Mrs. MacGregor tells the Indian Princess to change out of her royal clothes and switch to more common dresses. The Princess agrees to change  to avoid being ransomed.

The pirates jump onto the other ship and a huge fight breaks out between the two crews. The pirates win, and then they set the Indian ship afire. Mrs. MacGregor tells Hawke that he must save the princess who is still in hiding on her ship. Hawke jumps onto the the Indian ship and finds the princess. He carries her out of there and onto the pirate ship.

The princess has become entranced by Hawke. She comes out on deck at night to talk to Hawke as he handles the ship’s wheel.

Hawke tries to hold her off from him. He asks her name and she says she is Padma, Princess of Hormuz. She keeps asking him for kisses and they do kiss a lot because the princess constantly asks Hawke: "Again. ... Again. ... and Again" for another kiss.

Spitefire is mad at Hawke because he has not come to see her. But Captain Roc comes into the gunsmith shop to give Spitfire a beautiful, stolen necklace. Roc wants her to come with him to Venice or Genoa. He adds that he will even marry Spitfire. The problem is that Spitfire doesn’t love Roc.

Spitfire goes to see Hawke on the ship, to which he has been confined by Captain Roc. She is mad at Hawke, but can’t stay mad at the man. He makes her laugh. She says she has a job for Hawke. She wants him to command her ship, the Shark. As a further incentive to Hawke, she says she will also be on the ship with Hawke. Hawke admits that would be a incentive for him.

Spitfire tells Hawke that now she is in the mood for kissing and she wants Hawke to get busy at it. But Hawke pretends he is so conscientious at his job that he can only stay busily working away at the accounting of the treasure. So she tells him that when he finishes his accounting, he can come to her place and they will discuss the job on the Shark. Hawke makes Spitfire even madder when he says he is otherwise engaged after his accounting job is finished. He has to see to the care of ten beautiful Moorish women handmaidens of the princess. Spitfire leaves the cabin.

The ten women are being sold to the highest bidder as lawful wedded wives. The Princess is also going to be sold. So Hawke bids on the girl. Spitfire shows up to outbid Hawke for the Princess. Spitfire outbids Hawke. She tells him she likes Hawke better as a bachelor.

When Spitfire is out, Hawke goes to her place to talk to Mrs. MacGregor. MacGregor says she doesn’t trust Hawke with the Princess, but Hawke says he’s the only person Mrs. MacGregor can trust. He works out a deal with Mrs. MacGregor to get the Princess away. Just then Spitfire returns. She says she wants to see Hawke interacting with the young girl. Hawke is taken on the patio to see the young girl, and Spitfire sees the girl repeatedly trying to kiss Hawke. She has Mrs. MacGregor take the girl away.

Hawke says he has come to talk with Spitfire about the upcoming voyage. So, Spitfire asks him: "To what port can I go from which I can reach England as a passenger on a lawful ship?" Hawke rattles off some ports: Rio, Bahia, Pernambuco and any port in Brazil.

Spitfire now tells Hawke that if he will take her to Brazil, she will give him the Shark. Hawke accepts her offer. She does want to know, however, why did Hawke buy the girl? He says he wanted to keep her away from rough hands. Spitfire likes that answer and soon Hawke and she are kissing each other.

Hawke is planning the setup so the British ship can take the pirate port. He wants to get the Princess on the British ship before any fighting begins.

Captain Roc sees Hawke and calls out to him. He warns Hawke not to sail on the Shark with Spitfire onboard or else!

Hawke and his two sailors go down to the shore. Hawke speaks to the guard on duty, who he knows well enough, and says he will take the man's guard duty so the guard can go home and make love to the pretty woman he bought as his wife. The guard accepts his offer and takes off on his horse.

The spies now spike the cannons. The sergeant of the guards comes down to check on the guards and Hawke ends up having to stab the man to death. Now Hawke rides to the village to tell Mrs MacGregor to meet him at midnight. He then goes to kiss Spitfire again.

Hawke goes back down to the beach and launches a red flare for the British ship. The ship answers with their own red flare.

All is ready to go, that is, until Captain Roc and his men come to spoil everything. The two navy men start sword fighting with each other. The fight is stopped when the three women show up. Roc tells Spitfire to give the girl to Hawke and let him go his own way. Spitfire will not agree to that. She insults the Princess and now the girl blurts out that she will have Spitfire punished for having put her hands on the Princess of Hormuz.

This news is a great revelation to Roc and now he is going to torture the two sailors with Hawke to spill all the beans on Hawke’s actions and plans. All of a sudden, the guards watching Hawke come into the room with Hawke, saying that they found a map of the fortifications on Hawke. Roc says he knew the three British men were spies all along. He gives the order to take the three British sailors down to the tide stakes. And others will take MacGregor and the Princess to his ship the Scorpion.

The sailors are tied to the tide stakes. The crabs start bitting the men’s feet. Spitfire tells Captain Roc to give her his knife, for she wants to kill Hawke. Roc gives her the knife, and she pretends to stab Hawke in the back. She cuts his bindings and then walks away while Hawke pretends he has been killed. Now everyone except the three sailors leave the beach.

The British man-of-war sails into the port and the pirates rush down to the cannon to fire on the ship. When the cannons are lit, the cannons explode apart killing the gunners.

From the Scorpion, Roc can see that all the pirate cannons are blowing up. Then he watches as the man-of-war sinks a pirate ship.

Captain Roc is going to sail out of the port and away from the man-of-war, but now the three British sailors board the Scorpion. Roc plans to use the Princess as his hostage to get past the man-of-war. The British watch as the Scorpion goes past their ship. Spitfire is not happy at this turn of events.

The team of three start jumping the guards on deck. They then push the two guards watching the Princess into the waters of the port and free the Princess.

Roc tries to force himself on Spitfire, but Hawke arrives to put a stop to this. He has another sword fight with Roc. Hawke climbs up the ropes to cut down the sails of the ship. He goes all the way up to the bird’s nest. He then comes down cutting a sail in half as he slides down the sail by means of his sword.

Meanwhile, Spitfire kills several pirates. Now Roc catches up with Hawke and the sword fighting begins again. Hawke kills Roc.

Victorious, Hawke asks Lord Cloudsley to forget about the sins of Spitfire for his sake. The high officers agrees to the great gratitude of Hawke. Hawke comes over to Spitfire and says sometimes it’s difficult for a man to explain all his actions, but . . . But all Spitfire says to him is "Again .... Again ... Again!" mimicking the Princess of Hormuz in asking Hawke to kiss her again and again.

 

Not all that much history in the movie, but read the Historical Background below to learn a bit about the role of piracy in Madagascar.   It's a cute film with Flynn and O'Hara flirting with each other and then being mad at each other.  Both do a good acting job. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D. 

 

 


Historical Background:   (from Wikipedia)

 

By the 15th century  --  Europeans wrested control of the spice-trade from the Muslims.

1500  --  European contact begins when the Portuguese sea captain Diogo Dias sighted the island after his ship separated from a fleet going to India.

1646  --  The British terminated the English settlement near Toliary (Tuléar) in southern Madagascar. 

1666  --  François Caron, the director general of the newly formed French East India Company, sailed to Madagascar. The company failed to establish a colony on Madagascar but established ports on the nearby islands of Bourbon (now Réunion) and Isle de France (now Mauritius).

late 17th century  --  the French established trading posts along the east coast. On Nosy Boraha, a small island off the northeastern coast of Madagascar, Captain Misson and his pirate crew allegedly founded the famous pirate utopia of Libertalia in the late 17th century.

1774 to 1824  --  Madagascar was a favorite haunt for pirates.  Pirate luminaries such as William Kidd (September 1696 and April 1898), Henry Every (the most notorious pirate of his time), John Bowen (over a four-year period, he took about £170,000 in goods and coinage and retired to Bourbon), and Thomas Tew (who many other famous pirates, including Henry Every and William Kidd, followed in the man's path) made Antongil Bay and Nosy Boraha (St. Mary’s Island) their bases of operations. The pirates plundered merchant ships in the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea, and the Persian Gulf. They deprived Europe-bound ships of their silks, cloth, spices, and jewels.

Libertatia (also known as Libertalia) was a possibly fictional anarchist colony founded in the late 17th century in Madagascar by pirates under the leadership of Captain James Misson.

1884-1885  --  in the Berlin Treaty, the British accepted the claims of France to exert its influence on Madagascar.

1958 (October 14)  --  the Malagasy Republic became an autonomous state within the French Community.

1960 (March 26)  --  France agrees to Madagascar becoming fully independent.

1960 (June 26)  --  Madagascar becomes an independent country and Philibert Tsiranana becomes its first president.

 

 

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