Loosely based on late-18th -- early-19th century revolutionary events in southern Italy, Edgar Ulmer's THE PIRATES OF CAPRI is a fairly lavish costumer starring Louis Hayward as the Count di Amalfi by day, or I guess sometimes by night, too, and the masked rebel leader Captain Sirocco the rest of the time. The Count/Captain's kinda got a Scarlet Pimpernel thing going, a court fop and favorite of Queen Carolina part of the time, a sword slashing, square-jawed terror the rest of the time.
According to Ulmer's daughter, who appears on a short documentary on the dvd, Hayward was a favorite of Ulmer's. As far as I can tell Hayward does most of his own stunts - the requisite up-the-stone-staircase fencing duel with the corrupt cop Baron von Holstein (Rudolph Serato) and a couple of tumbles. Hayward is more effective as the trenchant court wit, although his sentence-ending giggles became irritating right quick. Serato comes across as a minor league Basil Rathbone to Hayward's stolid Errol Flynn. Errol Flynn minus the athleticism and joie de carnage, I hasten to add. For an action adventure THE PIRATES OF CAPRI spends an awful lot of time at court, a lot of time talking, and, disappointing for a movie with the word `pirate' in the title, only about 15-minutes at sea. This isn't a bad movie, but it sure ain't a classic, either. Most valuable to those fans of Ulmer's low-budget American classics (`Detour,' `The Black Cat') who are curious to see what he can do with an expanded budget and an international cast.
Also included on the disk is the pilot episode of `Swiss Family Robinson,' an independently produced show from the late-1950s. Ulmer directed this handsome 25-minute, shot-on-location, in living color program. Apparently it didn't impress the networks - the show was never broadcast. Will Rogers, Jr. stars as the father of a brood of freshly scrubbed, blonde haired kids shipwrecked on a tropic island sometime in the 18th century. Pleasant and unexceptional, save for the nice use of real locations and the chance to see Will Sr.'s kid in one of his last roles.