Cutthroat Island (1995)

It’s a pirate movie, and that’s it.  Anything you saw in Pirates of the Caribbean, you could pretty much see here first.  But despite its lack of ambition, Cutthroat Island is nowhere near bad enough that it should have ended Geena Davis’s career.  It keeps its feet firmly planted in B-Movie Land, whether with the incongruously lipsticked British governor-general or with the immortal line of Marion-Berry-esque dialogue, “Bitch stole my map!”  Which is delivered with a perfect poker face by Frank Langella, who doesn’t seem to care that he’s in B-Movie Land. 

Davis, by contrast, doesn’t seem to notice that she’s in B-Movie Land, at least not until the climactic put-down that explains the reason behind the name of Langella’s arch-pirate:  “Bad Dawg!”  But if she’s not exactly the most watchable B-actress—odd for someone who starred in Earth Girls Are Easy—she doesn’t send the thing down the drain, either.  Maybe that’s because this isn’t the kind of movie that relies on finely tuned thespianism (the accents don’t even seem to originate on the same continent).  Basically, what’s great about Cutthroat Island is that it knows it’s a cheesy historical action movie and doesn’t demand an Academy Award anyway, RUSSELL “MAXIMUS” CROWE.

5 Responses to Cutthroat Island (1995)

  1. Kris says:

    I think Cutthroat Island was the reason everyone was scared to go see Pirates of the Carribean. Or make Pirates of the Caribbean. Or maybe nobody wanted to see Pirates of the Caribbean because it was based on a Disney ride. Or because of the existence of the film The Country Bears.

    Any movie with Marion Berry-type dialogue automatically = awesome.

  2. Aakaash says:

    I always thought the damage CI dealt to pirate movies would only be healed by a decontructionist, existential, Oscar-winning movie – something along the lines of what Eastwood did with Unforgiven.

    But Pirate movies never had a Searchers, or even a Good Bad Ugly. Now, however, they have their Matrix Trilogy, starring Ed Wood and Legolas. Shows how much I know. Does this mean the pirate Oscar winner will never be made? I think Tim Robbins needs to look into this…maybe Langella can even cameo.

  3. turgidpossum says:

    Much obliged on the pirate dialogue. I myself have watched CI quite recently since I am going back deep into the grand catelogue of one Finnish born movie master, Renny Harlin (husband to G. Davis for sometime). Hack you say? Nay, a skilled craftsman in the art of making mindless movies. I think with CI it was just the wrong time for it. Man, if only pirate movies had a Searchers . . . an Oscar winner? . . . maybe Polanski will get together with Paul Schrader for a sequel to Pirates (1986).

  4. Aakaash says:

    Harlin made one of my most-guilty-of-pleasures: Deep Blue Sea. Oh and Die Hard 2 was not bad.
    You know, I actually watched “Treasure Planet” to get my pirate fix. What a mess that was. Maybe the first Oscar-winning pirate movie will be made by … Pixar. Or Aardman. Existential claymation pirates!

  5. Sarah R. says:

    I loved this movie… when I was 14. Or maybe I just loved Geena Davis? I do agree with Aakaash, Deep Blue Sea is a fabulous B-movie, but what’s even better is the movie that Harlin made before that: The Long Kiss Goodnight. Geena Davis as an amnesiac schoolteacher who discovers that she’s really a CIA-trained assassin. If you watch the opening credits, and you have any brain cells at all, you can pretty much figure out the whole movie. Her daughter is played by the little girl from Screamers, a phenomenal B-movie futuristic horror flick that involves a dramatic pull-out crane shot of a blow job on an alien planet.

    Here’s my favorite scene from Goodnight:

    Samuel L. Jackson (singing to himself): Got a gun in my pocket, got a rifle too. Anyone fucks with Mitch, he’ll knowwww what to dooo, because he’s a baaaaad motherfucker-
    Brian Cox (interrupting Sam & slamming him up against the barn): There may be many reasons not to kill you, but among them is not that you’ll be missed by NASA.

    And some good old-fashioned Jersey bashing:
    Davis: Easy, sport. I got myself out of Beirut once, I think I can get out of New Jersey.
    Jackson: Well, don’t be so sure. Others have tried and failed. The entire population, in fact.

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