Clinging on to Past Glories

Maureen O'Hara in Against All Flags (1952)

The year is 1700 and the pirates of Madagascar are causing problems for cargo coming in and out of India which is why British officer Brian Hawke (Errol Flynn) goes undercover, having his back lashed, so he can infiltrate the pirates. Trouble is on infiltrating the pirates he finds himself taken by fiery redhead Spitfire Stevens (Maureen O'Hara) a captain in her own right. It leaves Hawke torn because he can't stop himself from flirting with the attractive captain whilst he still has his undercover mission to complete which also includes rescuing Princess Patma (Alice Kelley) who instantly becomes sweet on him.

If Maureen O'Hara wearing thigh high leather boots was enough to make a movie great then "Against All Flags" would be instantly a great movie. Unfortunately it doesn't and sadly for me this 1952 pirate adventure movie comes across like a desperate attempt to cling on to past glories especially when it comes to Errol Flynn who whilst only in his early 40s when he made this looked slow and old. Whilst Flynn is not the only issue with "Against All Flags" being a shadow of the dashing adventure hero he once was is the main one and when it comes to the action it often looks like it has been slowed down to accommodate him, making it look even more staged than it would have a decade earlier, that is when a stunt double can't be employed for the more energetic scenes.

Errol Flynn and Anthony Quinn in Against All Flags (1952)

But as I said Errol Flynn is not the only thing which for me is wrong with "Against All Flags" and the over the top colourful nature of the outfits makes it again feel like it is desperately hanging on to the past and has gone over the top to do so almost achieving the look of a pantomime. Look there is no denying that Maureen O'Hara's costumes are certainly eye catching but as a collective with all the colourful outfits than the other characters wear it is all too much and makes it feel forced and amusingly too pristine with crisp white shirts and so on.

The thing is that "Against All Flags" has got a reasonable storyline with the undercover officer finding himself stuck behind a rock and a hard place when he falls for a female Pirate. On top of that the whole princess subplot keeps things interesting and often amusing whilst director George Sherman keeps it all ticking over nicely. But not only is it all incredibly routine but as I keep on saying, it feels like a movie desperately clinging on to the past and being all the worse for it.

What this all boils down to is that if "Against All Flags" had been made a decade earlier it probably would have been the enjoyable pirate adventure movie it should have been. But like a lady getting on in years who over does the make up and outfit to try and look young "Against All Flags" ends up coming across like a desperate attempt to cling on to past glories.

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