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Dancing Pirate (May 22, 1936)

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The Dancing Pirate

Released on May 22, 1936: A dancing teacher from Boston is kidnapped and put aboard a pirate ship.

Directed by Lloyd Corrigan

The Actors: Charles Collins (Jonathan Pride), Frank Morgan (Mayor Don Emilio Perena), Steffi Duna (Serafina Perena), Luis Alberni (Pamfilo the jailer), Victor Varconi (Don Balthazar, Monterey Captain of the Guard), Jack La Rue (Lieutenant Chago, Baltazar's aide), Alma Real (Blanca, Serafina's maid), William V. Mong (Tecolote, the old Indian), Mitchell Lewis (Pirate Chief), Julian Rivero (shepherd), John Eberts (Mozo), The Royal Cansino Dancers (dancers), Eduardo Cansino (specialty dancer), Rita Hayworth (specialty dancer), Nora Cecil (landlady), Jim Farley (sailor), Cy Kendall (Bouncing Betty's cook), Vera Lewis (Orville's mother), Ellen Lowe (Miss Ponsonby), Pat Nixon (dance class student), Marjorie Reynolds (dancer), Max Wagner (pirate), Harold Waldridge (Orville).


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Because of Pirates my Great-Great Grandparents met . . . yup, Pirates. I am not sure if it was Great-Great, or Great-Great-Great, but anyway, here is the story as I remember my mother telling it. My father's ancestors came from the German speaking area of Switzerland and settled first with Mennonites near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and my mother's ancestors came from Germany. Here's how her folks got to America. There were two German young men in the family in Germany, and one of them wanted to find his future and fortune in America, so he worked and saved and bought a ticket on a ship headed for America. But alas, before the ship departed, the Franco-Prussian war was breaking out, and being a patriotic German, he joined the army, forsaking his ticket to America. His brother thought it would be such a waste to let the ticket to America go unused, so he decided to use the ticket and come to America. When the ship was nearing American waters, a Pirate Ship approached them, and everyone was advised to get rid of anything valuable because the pirates would search the ship and take anything of value. My Great-Great-Grandfather was talking with another man at the rail of the ship, and the other man had a train ticket from New York to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania that he was going to throw overboard. My Great-Great Grandfather asked if he could have the ticket and try to hide it from the Pirates, and the other man agreed, and gave him the ticket. Wherever he hid the ticket, it was not discovered, so this German brother that had no intention of going to America until fortune put a ship ticket in his hands now had a train ticket from New York to a city that he had never heard of. When he landed in New York, he got on the train for Pittsburgh, and after arriving found work and settled into life in America. Now here it gets even stranger, but still true. He met and fell in love with a gal, and when he was introduced to her family, he discovered that her brother was the man who had given him the train ticket on the ship as the Pirates were approaching. A little over a hundred years later, here I am, thanks to those Pirates.

This movie, made in 1936, is a wonderful comedy, adventure, and love story that will keep you entertained while you are munching on your white kernel popcorn that is covered with butter and salt. This was the third ever Technicolor movie, but alas, there are no known copies of the movie in it's original color. It opens with Boston 'pretty-man' Jonathan, who is teaching the shy Boston folk how to dance this new dance of the 1840's, the waltz. After the lesson our dance teacher is off on a journey, but not one that he expects. As he is standing outside his home waiting for a carriage he is knocked out cold and dragged off to a Pirate ship that needs more crew members. Our next view of Jonathan is on the pirate ship as it is nearing the California coast after travelling south around South America and back up to the U.S. The ship is docking near a Spanish town in California to pick up fresh water, and Jonathan manages to escape from the Pirate ship and get into even hotter water. He escapes into the window of the daughter of the mayor of the town, and they believe that he is a Pirate and decide to hang him. This adventure continues as Jonathan escapes certain death several times, with the help of dancing Indians.

Frank Morgan, one of my favorite character actors, is the mayor of the town and Rita Hayworth makes an appearance in this movie with her Father and family. Rita Hayworth's real name is Rita Cansino, and she danced in her father Eduardo Cansino's dance troup, The Royal Cansino Dancers. From these apperances she was signed to a Hollywood contract when she was 16 years old. In this movie she is 17 years old, and dancing with the family in this great family adventure.