The Pirate is a 1948 American musical feature film from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. With songs by Cole Porter, it stars Judy Garland and Gene Kelly with co-stars Walter Slezak, Gladys Cooper, Reginald Owen, and George Zucco.
Manuela Alva (Judy Garland), who lives in the small Caribbean village of Calvados, dreams of being swept away by the legendary Pirate, Mack “the Black” Macoco. However, her aunt and uncle (who have raised her) insist that she marry the town mayor, the rotund and bullying Don Pedro (Walter Slezak).
Shortly before her wedding, Manuela visits a nearby town, Port Sebastian. A traveling circus has arrived, and Serafin (Gene Kelly), its handsome leader, flirts with all the girls in the song “Nina.” When he encounters Manuela, however, he falls in love at first sight with her. Serafin compliments Manuela’s beauty and begs her not to marry Don Pedro, but, angered, she hurries away. That night, however, Manuela cannot sleep, and she sneaks out to go see Serafin’s show.
At the show, Serafin hypnotizes Manuela, thinking that she will admit she loves him. Instead, the hypnotized girl wildly sings and dances about her love for “Mack the Black.” Serafin awakens Manuela with a kiss, and she flees in horror.
On Manuela’s wedding day, the traveling players arrive in Calvados. Serafin begs Manuela to join his troupe, and asks her to admit that she loves him. Don Pedro, hearing noise in Manuela’s room, arrives at her door, and asks Manuela to go away so that he can teach Serafin a lesson.
Serafin recognizes Don Pedro as Macoco, retired and obese. He blackmails Pedro with this information, swearing to tell it to Manuela if Don Pedro forbids the performers from putting on a show. Serafin then decides to pretend to be Macoco in order to win over Manuela. He reveals himself before the whole town as Macoco, then asks Manuela if she will come with him; she again refuses. Still, watching from her window as “Macoco” dances, she begins to daydream about the pirate. The next day, “Macoco” threatens to burn down the town if he cannot have Manuela. Finally, she happily agrees to go with him.
One of Serafin’s troupe accidentally reveals Serafin’s plan to Manuela. To get her revenge, she first pretends to seduce Serafin, then attacks him with words and hurtling objects. She accidentally knocks him out, then realizes that she loves him, and sings “You Can Do No Wrong.”
Meanwhile, Don Pedro convinces the viceroy that Serafin is the real Macoco and should hang for it. He plants treasure in Serafin’s prop trunk to make him look like a pirate. The army arrests Serafin, and Manuela’s protests cannot free him. On the night of Serafin’s hanging, Manuela finally gets to look at the false evidence, and recognizes a bracelet with the same design as the wedding ring that Pedro gave her, and realizes that Pedro is the pirate.
Serafin asks to do one last show before he is hanged, and sings and dances “Be a Clown” with two fellow troupe members (the Nicholas Brothers). As a finale, Serafin plans to hypnotize Don Pedro into admitting he is Macoco, but Manuela’s aunt breaks the mirror that Serafin uses to hypnotize people. Panicked, Manuela pretends to be hypnotized and sings “Love of My Life,” vowing everlasting devotion to Macoco. Don Pedro, jealous, reveals himself as the true Macoco and seizes Manuela. Serafin’s troupe attacks Don Pedro with custard pies and juggling balls, and the lovers embrace. Manuela joins Serafin’s act and the film ends with the two of them singing a reprise of “Be a Clown.”