Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB. United Kingdom/USA, 1983. Universal Pictures, St. Michael Finance Limited, Timothy Burrill Productions. Screenplay by Wilford Leach, based on the operetta by William S. Gilbert. Cinematography by Douglas Slocombe. Produced by Joseph Papp. Music by Arthur Sullivan. Production Design by Elliot Scott. Costume Design by Tom Rand. Film Editing by Anne V. Coates. Golden Globe Awards 1983.
Gilbert and Sullivan’s best-known operetta comes to the big screen with its score almost virtually intact and most the stars of its Broadway revival reprising their roles. Rex Smith (yes, the Solid Gold Rex Smith) plays a young pirate who comes of age and decides to abandon his criminal ways for the life of a proper gentleman. Arriving on the shore of a new land, he searches for a wife and finds love with the fiery-spirited Mabel (Linda Ronstadt), while his loving pirate captain (Kevin Kline) conspires to get him back into the fold. The plot itself is threadbare, fleshed out by beautiful music and exceptional dance numbers, all of them played against purposely artificial backdrops. Angela Lansbury is also on hand as Smith’s nurse and the late Tony Azito reprises his Tony Award-winning performance as the police sergeant in this well made musical that will have limited appeal but has its rewards for fans of the musical duo responsible for it. Ronstadt is especially impressive, going from country-rock singer to trained coloratura with terrific results.