The Pirates of Capri
Edgar G. Ulmer’s reputation rests largely on a series of no-budget, claustrophobic noirs and thrillers such as Strange Illusion, Bluebeard, and of course Detour. But this director was nothing if not versatile, occasionally helming larger-budget films with major stars (The Black Cat and Strange Woman come to mind) as well as action pictures that brought Ulmer’s visual talents outside the cramped confines of the studio into authentic locations. Into the latter category fall such intriguing films as the 1950s western The Naked Dawn and two historical epics, Hannibal and The Pirates of Capri. If Hannibal is mostly overshadowed by Victor Mature and a pack of elephants, The Pirates of Capri (now available on DVD from All Day Entertainment) shows Ulmer in full command of his powers as a pictorialist. Shot in Italy both on location and on the enormous sound stages of Cinecitta, the film has enough visual beauty to justify by itself the oft-repeated claim that Ulmer was the heir to Murnau.
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