A few days ago, a discussion got started here about sexism in fiction. I really appreciate the people who wrote in and commented; it’s been a spirited debate that’s been worth having, and the people who dropped by have had a lot of good things to say.
During the course of putting together the initial rant, though, an interesting discovery was made: When I referred to the pirate movie ANNE OF THE INDIES through a link, I found that IMDB allowed you to watch the entire movie through hulu.com with a few commercial spot judiciously inserted.
I’ll warn you first off, there’s a reason this movie doesn’t immediately stick in the minds of many folks. Jean Peters did much better work than this elsewhere, especially in THREE COINS IN THE FOUNTAIN, and there aren’t as many sparks between her and Louis Jourdan as the story requires.
Which brings me to the biggest problem with it: what the story puts our protagonist through. We have here a tough woman who supposedly was based on Anne Bonny yet comes across like a combination of Veda from MILDRED PIERCE and the witch Hansel and Gretel push into the oven at the end of their tale (after they did more damage to her house than Chinese drywall). She’s supposedly this tough captain in the Hollywood pirate captain model (i.e., a despot without worry that her crew would parley and boot her off the quarterdeck) who thinks with her heart (the only organ involved in desire among women that can be mentioned by name in the movies…) and allows that to get in the way of her captaincy. Which, by the way, seemed very successful off-screen until Jourdan shows up in the first reel, meaning we have to sit and watch it all fall apart.
The main blame would appear to go to the lack of care given by the writers. There’s no major fansite devoted to this film to break this down, so we have to make a few assumptions based on the following facts:
- The original story was written by Herbert Ravenel Sass, a novelist brought to Fox who contributed two scenarios late in his career right before his death
- The script assignment goes to Arthur Caesar, who gets this as part of the studio writing staff late in his career (according to IMDB, it’s his last credited work)
- The assignment goes to Philip Dunne, who then gets it around the time he’s fighting HUAC and the blacklist
End result is a project that goes through three sets of distracted hands according to Fox’s timetable; damned all the character development, they said, we need those reels in the theaters by October!
Such were the old sins of the studio system; content was required first and foremost, and if we’re lucky maybe it’ll be good. And as easy as it’d be to point to the old studios and their quality control procedures, it’d be from a glass fortress that would be tasked to defend YouTube and a multi-channel cable TV universe.
(And as an aside, it’s interesting to see the whole movie here for free considering how Fox is looking for more compensation for their online content…)
So take from this what you do have: A flawed but still watchable tale of a female pirate on film. Even if this is, as the Lovely and Talented Susan noted, “a low-B movie on the high seas” (a comment I gotta embrace), there’s still enough touch points here to draw you in and give you a few satisfying moments.
Could the movie have been a lot better? Hell yeah! But it wasn’t, which means there’s room now for someone to take on the elements of the story and craft something better.
BTW, I am always open for pitches on what you can do for me as a talent rep…
Speaking of creations, a few shout outs for folks with new projects started this week:
- Garrison Dean just welcomed his daughter Saskia into the world. Last I heard, he, daughter and the wife (who is strangely unnamed; that should be corrected…) were doing well
- Aaron Williams and wife Cristi just welcomed little Joshua Williams into the world. All three are also doing well and ready to begin the voyage through treacherous waters known as “the first few years of life”
My best to both families as they get comfortable with themselves and their new situation.