THE BLACK SWAN. 20th Century Fox, 1942. Tyrone Power, Maureen O’Hara, Laird Cregar, Thomas Mitchell, George Sanders, Anthony Quinn, George Zucco. Screenplay: Ben Hecht and Seton I. Miller, based on the novel by Rafael Sabatini. Director: Henry King.

   The Black Swan, a Technicolor swashbuckler par excellence, almost feels as if it were two distinct movies put together into one.

   The “first,” which is far more enthralling, consists of the first fifty minutes or so of this 85-minute Henry King-directed film in which two pirates, Jamie Boy (Tyrone Power) and Captain Morgan (Laird Cregar) adjust to new lives as domesticated land guys running Jamaica. There’s court intrigue a plenty, lavish costumes, and a carefree, lighthearted atmosphere one would expect from an early 1940s swashbuckler adventure film: nothing too violent, but with just enough of an edge you keep the viewer engaged.

   The “second” movie, as it were, revolves almost exclusively on the love-hate relationship between Jamie Boy and Lady Margaret (Maureen O’Hara). Problem is: up until the final scene, it feels much more like a hate-hate relationship. Indeed, there is almost no palpable chemistry between the two leads, all of which leads to some rather cringe-worthy scenes in which Jamie Boy attempts to woo the shrewish Lady Margaret who is, naturally, in love with Jamie Boy’s court rival. O’Hara looks as if she’s going through the motions, making her character a rather dour-looking presence. Why, one must ask, would the dashing Jamie Boy devote so much time and energy to capturing her heart? Surely, there’s many more proverbial fish in the Caribbean Sea.

   Unlike O’Hara, Laird Cregar seems to be having a genuine blast in his role as the mighty Captain Morgan, former pirate and newly appointed Governor of Jamaica. His large presence, both figuratively and literally, towers over Power throughout the film. In many ways, his character’s story is far more compelling than that of the more graceful, more handsome Jamie Boy. The scene in which Morgan finally sheds his role as governor is fantastic. At last, he no longer has to wear those silly clothes and a wig and can be himself again!