Today is Talk Like a Pirate Day, so I thought it would be fitting to share an image of my favorite pirate in film: Kevin Kline in The Pirates of Penzance. Forget about Errol Flynn or even Johnny Depp. The Pirate King doesn't wear an eyepatch or a parrot and never says "Arrrrrr!" but Kline was born to wear that shirt and those pants, to wave a sword dashingly ... or occasionally drop it, but he does that well too. If you're not a fan of Gilbert and Sullivan, you may not be quite as enamored by Kline's performance, but I find him irresistable. The rest of the cast, mostly carryovers from Joseph Papp's stage production, includes Linda Ronstadt, Rex Smith, Angela Lansbury, and one-time Muppeteer Louise Gold (although her singing voice is dubbed). There's a lot of slapstick that perhaps Gilbert and Sullivan never intended, but if you're not a purist you'll find it all in good fun.
The 1983 film of The Pirates of Penzance has an unusual history: Universal experimented for the first time with a day-and-date release. The movie premiered on pay-per-view cable at the same time it was released in theaters. Many theater chains refused to show the film because of the day-and-date release, so it grossed very little money, not that Gilbert and Sullivan would have broken any box-office records anyway. The movie is currently unavailable on DVD.