Anne of the Indies (1951)
Peters' Pretty Pirate Queen
How does a Frenchman make love - Captain Anne Providence
Whilst in more recent times the comical piracy of Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow has won fans for me there is still nothing better than an old fashioned swashbuckler and "Anne of the Indies" is most certainly an old fashioned swashbuckler. Pirates, mutiny, Blackbeard and a couple of pretty women make it a classic pirate movie in so many ways but it is also a surprisingly fascinating one as the focus is on female Captain Anne Providence who having been raised to be ruthless finds her feminine side awaken by a handsome prisoner. There is more to it than just that, there is treachery and jealousy which makes it a movie which not only visually entertains but also has this underlying story which has more depth than you expect.
Forced to work for the British at Port Royal in capturing pirates, Captain Pierre François LaRochelle (Louis Jourdan - Letter from an Unknown Woman) masquerades as a slave aboard a British ship which ends up being captured by pirate Captain Providence (Jean Peters - A Man Called Peter). To Pierre's surprise the legendary Captain Providence is a woman called Anne who have being taught by Blackbeard (Thomas Gomez) is a ruthless pirate queen except her ruthlessness subsides as her feminine side is awaken by Pierre. But Anne doesn't know the truth that not only is he a traitor there to trick her into a trap at Port Royal but also that he is married to the pretty Molly (Debra Paget - Broken Arrow) and when she finds out it makes Anne conflicted between being in love to being a pirate also bringing her friendship with Blackbeard into question.
So on face value "Anne of the Indies" delivers everything that you expect from an old pirate movie, there is action, swashbuckling, sea battles and the bonus of having a sexy pirate queen. As such it works as simple old fashioned entertainment where there is drama which is often pepped up by occasional moments of action. It may not quite have the daring do of earlier swashbucklers but it still works at this simple level.
But then "Anne of the Indies" is actually a much deeper movie than you probably expect because beneath the surface we have this interesting element of emotional conflict. That emotional conflict settles firmly on the shoulders of Anne who finds herself falling for Pierre and in territory unfamiliar to her as she has never been treated like a woman before. It awakens something inside of her she doesn't know how to handle and this leads to her having clouded judgement when those around her including her mentor Blackbeard say that Pierre is no good. And it leads to more conflict because when Anne finds out that Pierre is married she is torn between how to deal with things, she doesn't want to hurt him but she wants to hurt his wife. Plus there is the conflict with Blackbeard because as things escalate Anne and Blackbeard become enemies leading to more emotional conflict. For what is an old pirate swashbuckler the underlying story is pretty decent when you think that most people watched this sort of movie for the swashbuckling action.
Now I like Jean Peters and think she was a talented actress who does well to get across the emotional conflict of Anne in this movie. But ironically I don't think she was quite right for the part because Peters is pretty and cute rather than sexy and dangerous and so it is hard to believe she is a ruthless pirate. Aside from that the rest of the casting is good with Louis Jordan turning on the charm as Pierre whilst Debra Paget gives us a second helping of beauty as his wife. Plus there is James Robertson Justice in a supporting role which actually shows him to be more than the blustering Brit he ended up famed for.
What this all boils down to is that "Anne of the Indies" is a decent old fashioned pirate swashbuckler which works nicely as simple entertainment. But it also has a nicely worked out storyline about conflict and feelings which is more than you expect when the movie starts.
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