Against All Flags is directed by George Sherman and written by Joseph Hoffman and Aeneas MacKenzie. It stars Errol Flynn, Maureen O'Hara, Anthony Quinn, Alice Kelley and Mildred Natwick. A Technicolor production out of Universal with cinematography by Russell Metty and music scored by Hans J. Salter.
In 1700 A.D. the Pirate Rebublic of Libertatia on the Island of Madagascar was in constant menace to the rich trade routes to India. Several days sail from this pirate fortress is the British merchant ship, Monsoon......
Plot, in simple terms, sees Flynn as a British officer who goes under cover to smash the pirate ring operating on the coast of Madagascar. Swooning, jealousy, heroics, moustache twirling villainy and big hoorays do follow. It's a lesser Flynn swashbuckler that came at a time when he was fighting some personal issues as well as the onset of age. Filmed mostly on the Universal stages in California, with a small amount of location work shot at Palos Verdes, picture is far better than it probably had right to be.
Duel with landing pikes!
OK! This is hardly a rip snorter akin to Flynn's triumphs of the past, nor is it a particularly potent story, but it's a picture full of lovely optical delights whilst the lead performers have an ebullience that's utterly beguiling. Colour photography and costuming lead the way, both of which off set some of the cheapo corner cutting by producer Howard Christie. Direction is steady, with the actors comfortable with the jovial material to hand, and the finale doesn't lack in the crash, bang, wallop & hooray department. Flynn oozes laid back charisma, his unassuming kisses stealing the ladies hearts, Quinn enjoys being the dandy dastardo, O'Hara wields a good blade and broods a sexuality to knock the boys off their feet, and Mildred Natwick is as always worthy of observation, her visual acting most enjoyable.
The flaws are evident from the off, it's an easy film to kick and dismiss if in a particularly demanding mood. As pirate adventures go, or as Flynn swashers go, it's very much a minor work. But that doesn't mean it isn't colourful or fun, for it happens to be both. Universal's Region 1 Pirates of the Golden Age release of Against All Flags comes in full frame and is a rather good transfer to disc. 7/10