Movies

Against All Flags

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Against All Flags is a 1952 American pirate film starring Errol Flynn as Brian Hawke, Maureen O’Hara as Prudence “Spitfire” Stevens and Anthony Quinn as Roc Brasiliano. In 1700, British officer Brian Hawke infiltrates a group of pirates located on Libertatia on the coast of Madagascar, and falls in love with pirate captain “Spitfire” Stevens.

Brian Hawke, an officer aboard the British merchant ship The Monsoon, volunteers for a dangerous mission to infiltrate the pirate’s base at Diego-Suarez on the coast of Madagascar. He is to pose as a deserter, and to make his disguise more convincing, he is given twenty lashes. Once he has arrived at Diego-Suarez he is greeted with an air of suspicion by the pirates, especially Captain Roc Brasiliano. Brasiliano orders him to appear before a tribunal of the Coast Captains to decide his fate. If they do not like him, he will be executed. Meanwhile, Hawke has caught the eye of Spitfire Stevens – the only woman amongst the Coast Captains – who inherited her position from her father.

At the tribunal Hawke duels one of the pirates with boarding pikes managing to outfight him. Hawke is therefore given permission to join the pirates, and joins Brasiliano’s crew to prove his worth. While cruising the shipping lanes, they come across a Moghul vessel crammed with luxuries and vast wealth. After a tough battle, it is stormed, and looted. Captured aboard is Patma, the daughter of the Moghul Emperor, who is disguised by her chaperone as just another ordinary woman. She falls in love with Hawke after he rescues her from the burning ship, admitting he is only the third man she has ever seen.

When they return to Diego-Suarez, Spitfire is angered by the arrival of Patma. Jealously, when Patma is put up for auction, she outbids Hawke (who had wanted to protect her from the other pirates) and takes the Indian woman into her service. In a candid moment Spitfire tells Hawke she is planning to leave for England, via Brazil where she can catch a legal ship. She wants Hawke to accompany her there, after which he can take ownership of her ship. Brasiliano’s hatred of Hawke grows, as he has a fancy for Spitfire himself.

Hawke has slowly been gathering information on the base, and has acquired a map of the defences. It is planned that the Royal Navy ships will sail into the harbour, with Hawke disabling the cannons. Hawke gives a signal to the British ships with a flare, and makes sure the Moghul Princess is ready to be evacuated to safety. Unfortunately Hawke’s plans are interrupted by Brasiliano. Hawke is unmasked as a spy and tied to a stake on the beach where he is to be drowned and eaten by crabs. In a sullen gesture of her feelings for him, Spitfire makes to cut his throat to end his suffering, but instead cuts the ropes binding him to the stake.

At that moment the British warship enters the bay and the pirates hurry to repel it, expecting to easily sink it as they did a Portuguese warship that recently attempted to storm the harbour. To their surprise the cannons have been double-shotted and explode. Faced with imminent defeat and the threat of a hanging, Brasiliano tries a final gamble to escape. He puts the Princess at the front of his ship, as he sails past the British warship, knowing they will not dare fire on her. Brasiliano now plans to head for Genoa beyond the reach of English Law, where he intends to settle down and marry Spitfire. However, Hawke has slipped aboard and manages to reach the hostage, escorting her to safety. Hawke and Brasiliano then square off for an epic final sword duel on the decks of the ship.

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