The Red Corsair (film)

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German title The red corsair
Original title The Crimson Pirate
Country of production United States
original language English
Publishing year 1952
length 105 minutes
Age rating FSK 12
Director Robert Siodmak
script Roland Kibbee
production Harold Hecht ,
Burt Lancaster for
Warner Brothers
music William Alwyn
camera Otto Heller
cut Jack Harris

The Red Corsair is an American pirate film that was made in 1952 under the direction of Robert Siodmak .

The main actor is Burt Lancaster as pirate captain Vallo. The film is set in the Caribbean on and around the fictional islands of Cobra and San Pero in the late 18th century .


In the late 18th century, Captain Vallo, known as "the red corsair", and his crew hijack a frigate of the Royal Navy in the Caribbean . Baron Gruda, the king's special envoy, travels by ship to the island of Cobra to put down a rebellion against the king's rule. Vallo intends to sell the weapons captured on the ship to El Libre, the leader of the rebellion. Gruda then offers to pay Vallo if he captures El Libre and hands him over. Vallo agrees, but keeps the captured ship. Gruda and his crew have to switch to the old pirate ship. While some pirates complain that this trade is not piracy, they give in quickly when they learn how much money is in prospect.

They sail to Cobra, where Vallo goes ashore with his first officer Ojo to meet the rebels. These are run by Pablo Murphy and Consuelo, the daughter of El Libre. The pirates learn that El Libre is being held in a prison on the island of San Pero. But the meeting is disrupted by the royal guard. Consuelo, Vallo and Ojo can escape on the pirate ship. Vallo tells the crew he wants to save El Libre, while Consuelo thinks he is only interested in selling the guns. She promises he'll get the money.

They are sailing to San Pero. There Vallo disguises himself as Baron Gruda and takes part with Ojo and Consuelo at a reception in honor of Gruda, organized by the colonel of the garrison stationed on the island. The colonel presents his guests with El Libre and another captured rebel: Professor Elihu Prudence. Vallo orders the prisoners to be handed over to his custody, only to leave the reception in a hurry, because someone has recognized him as the wrong Gruda. With the freed prisoners on board their ship, they head for Cobra.

Consuelo is grateful to Vallo for saving her father, but is dismayed when she finds out that Vallo wants to sell the rebels to Gruda. The silent Ojo suggests that Vallo is in love with Consuelo. He denies this, but decides to release the rebels instead of selling them to Gruda. Consuelo asks Vallo to come with them, but he refuses. This conversation is overheard by boat mate Humble Bellows, who then conspires against Vallo and sends Gruda a message about this.

At Cobra, Vallo releases the rebel leader and his daughter, but the royal guards are already waiting. El Libre is killed and Consuelo taken prisoner. The pirates mutiny against Vallo, and Humble Bellows is named the new captain. Vallo, Ojo and the professor are chained in a boat and left out to sea with no supplies.

Gruda suggests a drink and donates a barrel of rum. The pirates get drunk and are thus incapacitated, whereupon they are captured by the soldiers.

Gruda determines that Consuelo has to marry the Governor of Cobra, Herman, otherwise he will have the people of Cobra killed. Consuelo is forced to agree and Gruda announces the date of the wedding on the condition that the entire population must attend. Meanwhile, Vallo, Ojo and the professor manage to turn their fate by overturning the boat, sinking to the bottom of the sea and marching back to Cobra on foot, their heads to breathe in the air bubble of the upturned boat. After arriving on the island and being able to avoid being captured again by the guards, they join the rebels. You find out about the upcoming wedding. Vallo wants to save Consuelo, but that is only possible with the help of the population. Under the direction of the professor, new types of weapons are built and their operation trained: Nitroglycerine bombs , tanks, flamethrowers, a submarine and a hot air balloon. On the day of the wedding, the residents of Gruda's soldiers attacked. Gruda manages to escape to his original ship with Consuelo as hostage. Vallo and Ojo follow with the hot air balloon. They track down their old ship, free the captured pirates, and then follow Gruda's ship. By diving under the keel of Gruda's frigate, they can surprise the soldiers. They board the ship and defeat the soldiers, with Gruda being killed by Vallo. Finally, Consuelo and Vallo come together.

Production background

A first draft of the script came from Waldo Salt , but he was accused in the McCarthy era of communism , which made it dangerous for the film producers to employ him. Then Roland Kibbee wrote a second draft script, which was finally accepted. But this was also heavily revised, as Christopher Lee - who had one of his early film roles here as a sinister military attaché - recalled in his autobiography Tall, Dark and Gruesome : Kibbee's script originally envisaged a serious to sad film, but was then directed by a director Robert Siodmak rewritten into an adventure comedy in forty-eight hours. Unusually, the film begins with the main actor addressing the audience, who invites you to his pirate ship: “ Believe what you see - no, believe half of what you see! "(Just believe what you see - no, don't even believe half of it!)

One element of the film is the Lancaster and Cravat stunts. The two childhood friends performed together in the circus as the artist duo "Lang and Cravat" in the 1930s, and in the 1950s they made several films together. As in The Rebel (1950), made two years earlier , the role of Cravat was silent. The reason was his strong, insurmountable Brooklyn accent, which would have been completely out of place in historical adventure films like The Rebel and The Red Corsair .

The outdoor shots for the film were shot on the island of Ischia and in the Bay of Naples .

The film takes place between 1783 and 1800, since it speaks of "a ship that was carried over France by an air-filled balloon". The Montgolfier brothers launched the first balloon in 1783. There are several anachronisms in the film:

  • The film is set in the late 18th century, but nitroglycerin doesn't appear until the mid-19th century.
  • In one shot, a modern passenger ship can be seen in the background (on DVD at 1 hour 7 minutes 40 seconds).
  • In another shot, a rowing boat approaching from a ship is observed with a telescope, but in the shot through the telescope it can be seen from behind (at approx. 33:10 min).


The German dubbed version for The Red Corsair was made in 1952 by Deutsche Mondial Film GmbH.

role actor German Dubbing voice
Captain Vallo Burt Lancaster Horst Niendorf
Consuelo Eva Bartok Edith Schneider
Baron Jose Gruda Leslie Bradley Curt Ackermann
Humble Bellows, helmsman Torin Thatcher Eduard Wandrey
Professor Elihu Prudence James Hayter Hans Emons
Pablo Morillo Noel Purcell Walther Suessenguth
Military attaché Joseph Christopher Lee Siegmar Schneider
Garrison Colonel on San Pero Frank Pettingell Alfred Balthoff


To this day, The Red Corsair is mostly rated very positively by film reviews. Cinema wrote appreciatively: "The fast-paced, self-deprecating comedy still looks fresh after 60 years and is - hand on heart - actually better than the curse of the Caribbean - class: seamen's yarn of the most captivating kind." The TV magazine Prisma was also positive: "The red one Korsar is one of the indestructible classics of adventure films. The German director Robert Siodmak hit exactly the right note to bring turbulent action, delicious slapstick and hot-blooded Hollywood love under one roof. Burt Lancaster has one of his most beautiful roles here. ”The lexicon of the international film wrote:“ Elaborately staged, exciting and humorous pirate story. […] Adventurous 'sailor's yarn', a later high point of the genre. ”According to the lexicon Fischer, Der Rote Korsar is a“ mixture of Münchhausiade and Eulenspiegelei ”,“ from Tarzan , Jules Verne and Marx Brothers ”. Credibility and historical loyalty are "quickly thrown off as ballast".


  • William Alwyn : The Crimson Pirate. Overture & Themes . On: The Film Music of William Alwyn, Vol. 2 . Chandos, Colchester 2001, sound carrier no. CHAN 9959 - digital re-recording of excerpts from the film music by the BBC Philharmonic under the direction of Rumon Gamba

Web links


  • Jens Malte Fischer: The red corsair. In: Thomas Koebner (Ed.): Classic films, descriptions and comments. Volume 2: 1947-1964 (Universal Library 9417). ISBN 3-15-009417-8 . Pp. 152-154

Individual evidence

  1. Christopher Lee: Tall, Dark and Gruesome. Modifications made by Victor Gollancz. 1997, ISBN 0-575-06497-8 .
  2. ^ "The red corsair" in the German synchronous file
  3. "The Red Corsair" at the German Synchronous Database ( Memento of the original from April 10, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  4. "The Red Corsair" at Rotten Tomatoes
  5. "The Red Corsair" at Cinema
  6. "The Red Corsair" at Prisma
  7. The red corsair. In: Lexicon of International Films . Film service , accessed August 27, 2017 .Template: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used 
  8. Lexicon Fischer