Talk Like a Pirate Day comes around every September 19, and what better way to celebrate this international holiday than watching a great pirate movie? (Besides actually talking like a pirate, of course.) Newsday's film critic, Rafer Guzmán, offers his picks for the four best swashbuckling movies to play on this most important day. Argh, matey!
"Peter Pan" (1953)
Disney's version of J.M. Barrie's stage play (and novel) is still a charmer after all these years. Yes, the darker subtexts are gone -- nobody describes children as "gay and innocent and heartless," as Barrie did -- but the movie has oodles of romance, adventure and whimsy. There's plenty of grace and sparkle in the fluid animation, soon to disappear from Disney's studios for a couple of decades. And what a voice performance from Hans Conreid! A veteran of "The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show," among countless cartoon credits, he plays both the villainous Captain Hook and, symbolically, the father of the Darling children. (Pictured: A scene from Disney's 2002 Peter Pan movie, "Return to Never Land.")
"The Princess Bride" (1987)
One of the finest moments from director Rob Reiner, and screenwriter William Goldman (working from his novel), this loopy fairy tale struck a magical balance between self-mocking irony, thrilling swashbucklery and gooey romance. (The pirate connection involves a twist that shouldn't be spoiled here.) The principal players -- Carey Elwes as the dashing Westley, Robin Wright as the perfectly-named Buttercup and Mandy Patinkin as the swordsman Inigo Montoya -- are supported by brilliant comedic actors like Wallace Shawn, Christopher Guest, Peter Cook and Billy Crystal. Sweet, smart, funny and endlessly quotable, it's a modern classic.
"Pirates! Band of Misfits" (2012)
This British claymation spoof from Peter Lord ("Wallace and Gromit") may be too "meta" for little viewers, but adults will find it a crack-up. Hugh Grant is the voice of the overly generic Pirate Captain, annual loser of the Pirate of the Year Award, who commandeers a ship that turns out to be the Beagle. The lunatic plot isn't easily explained, but it involes a sneaky Charles Darwin, a villainous Queen Victoria, Jane Austen, the Elephant Man -- you name it. Kids might enjoy the slapstick, but the jokes are aimed at you.
"Time Bandits" (1981)
Terry Gilliam's fantasy-adventure about a young boy who joins a band of time-traveling dwarves is arguably one of the best movies of the 1980s. It's hugely imaginative, funny, surreal and perhaps a bit educational, as the characters meet Napoleon (Ian Holm), Robin Hood (John Cleese) and Agamemnon (Sean Connery). The stellar cast also includes Shelley Duvall, Ralph Richardson, Jim Broadbent, David Warner and Michael Palin. Granted, the dwarves aren't actually pirates -- they helped design our universe -- but they do sail a 17th-Century galleon, steal things and speak in scurvy British accents.