Follow TV Tropes


Film / Against All Flags

Go To

Against All Flags is a 1952 American pirate film directed by George Sherman and Douglas Sirk and starring Errol Flynn as Brian Hawke, Maureen O'Hara as Prudence "Spitfire" Stevens and Anthony Quinn as Roc Brasiliano.

In 1700 a British naval officer, Lt. Brian Hawke, goes undercover to infiltrate Madagascar-based pirates who have been attacking ships on the route to India. There is an instant attraction between Hawke and pirate Captain Prudence "Spitfire" Stevens, an independent woman who is any man's equal. Jealousies arise when Hawke, aboard Captain Roc Brasiliano's ship, rescues the pretty Princess Patma, daughter of the Moghul Emperor. Having obtained the information he set out for - the gun placements for the pirates' hideaway - he spikes the guns and signals the British fleet. The Princess is Brasiliano's prisoner however, and there is one final confrontation before Hawke can save her and make his escape.

Against All Tropes:

  • Aren't You Going to Ravish Me?: After capturing the Pasha's ship, Roc explains to chaperone Molvina MacGregor that the handmaidens under her charge are going to be sold into married life. He then adds:
    Roc Brasiliano: (mockingly) Not that you'll need to worry about that.
    Molvina MacGregor: (indignantly) And why not?!
  • Auction: When Roc auctions off Princess Patma's handmaidens as brides for the pirates, Hawke and Spitfire get into a bidding war for the disguised princess.
  • Bedlah Babe: The Princess Patma and her handmaidens are all dressed like this. Never mind that this is nothing like how the daughter of the Mughal Emperor (i.e. an Indian) should be dressed (not to mention that several of her handmaidens are blonde); Rule of Sexy is definitely in play.
  • Blade Brake: Errol Flynn does the "stab the sail" version in a clear homage to Douglas Fairbanks in The Black Pirate. Brian Hawke is cornered in the rigging of the Scorpion, with pirates coming from three directions. He walks out across the yardarm and stabs his rapier into the sail, and then rides it down to the deck. This was apparently the only stunt in the film Flynn did not do himself.
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands: When the sailing master attempt to cheat by breaking a rum bottle over Hawke's head during their duel, Spitfire shoots the bottle and shatters it while it is still in his hand.
  • Bridal Carry: When Hawke rescues Princess Patma from the burning ship, he scoops her up in his arms and charges through the smoke and flame off the ship.
  • Chatty Hairdresser: While chained to the auction block in the town square, Hawke receives a shave from Krukshank, the town barber. As talkative as any Wild West barber, Krukshank plays Mr. Exposition and provides Hawke with plenty of details about Diego Suarez. Krukshank is also the town's surgeon and executioner, but confides that is barbering he enjoys the most.
  • Damsel in Distress: Princess Patma's sole purpose in the film is to be rescued: repeatedly.
  • Dope Slap: The no-nonsense Molvina MacGregor does this to Princess Patma when the Princess threatens to have her cast into the cobra pit.
  • Embarrassing First Name: When Hawke asks Spitfire her actual name, she makes him promise not to laugh before admitting that is Prudence.
  • Fed to the Beast: Hawke, Harris and Jones are tied to tidal posts to be devoured by crabs. Spitfire declares she wants to kill Hawke herself, so rides over and seems to stab him, while actually cutting his ropes.
  • Fiery Redhead: 'Spitfire' Stephens. When Hawke asks Krukshank how she got her nickname, he is told he'll soon find out. She is a hot-tempered Pirate Girl who will pull a pistol on any man who tries to kiss her, and once killed a man in a duel for daring to touch her without her consent.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: During their duel, the sailing master attempts to smash a rum bottle down on Hawke's head, only to have Spitfire shoots it out of his hand.
  • Historical Domain Character: Captain Kidd and Roc Brasiliano (more commonly known as Roche Braziliano) were historical pirates. However, neither would have been Madagascar in 1700: Kidd was imprisoned in Boston, and Brasiliano had vanished without trace (presumed lost at sea) in 1671.
  • Human Shield: As Roc attempts to sail out of Diego Suarez under the British guns, he has the Princess Patma tied to the rails of his ship so that the British dare not fire.
  • I'll Never Tell You What I'm Telling You!: Hawke asks the disguised Princess Patma what her name is. Patma goes blank and then tells him that she cannot remember what name MacGregor told her to give, but she does remember that she is not supposed to say she is the daughter of the Moghul Emperor. This seems to genuine naiveté (or stupidity) on Patma's case, rather than any desire to expose her true identity.
  • Insignia Rip-Off Ritual: Part of the evidence Brian Hawke presents to the Council of Captains that he is a deserter is his Royal Navy coat with all of its official insignia ripped off. Roc points out that, by itself, this proves nothing, as he could have stripped them off himself.
  • Interesting Situation Duel: When Hawke fights a duel against Roc's sailing master, the sailing master chooses boarding pikes as the weapons; leading to surprisingly brutal fight with the long, hooked weapons.
  • Knife Outline: When his sailing master is accused of stealing booty, Roc interrogates him by throwing knives around him so they just miss.
  • Love at First Sight: Princess Patma has never seen a man before that she wasn't related to, so quickly falls for the handsome hero who's rescued her.
  • Made a Slave: Roc Brasiliano has the handmaidens he captured auctioned off as wives for the pirates of Diego Suarez.
  • Outlaw Town: Diego Suarez is a port run by and for pirates, and ruled by the Council of Coast Captains. The British Navy is desperate to put it out of operation, but needs to neutralize its defences before they can do so.
  • Pirate: The villains in this film are pirates, with Brian Hawke on a secret mission to infiltrate their base in the Outlaw Town of Diego Suarez and work out how to neutralize its defences.
  • Pirate Girl: 'Spitfire' Stephens is the only woman on the Council of Coast Captains, but she is regarded as the equal of any man amongst the Captains, even if she seldom sails with her crew.
  • Ready for Lovemaking: Spitfire visits Hawke on the Scorpion while he is doing the accounts, and positions herself provocatively on the couch, saying she is ready for him. She is more than a little indignant when he rebuffs her advances.
  • Rescue Romance: Princess Patma falls in love with Brian Hawke after he rescues her from a burning, sinking ship.
  • A Taste of the Lash: One of the first scenes is British naval officer Brian Hawke being flogged so he can pose as a common seaman who's deserted and infiltrate a Pirate stronghold. When he's examined by some pirate leaders (supposedly) a few weeks later, one says he recognizes the style of the sadistic bosun who did the flogging — he likes to "sign his name" on the victim's back with the last several strokes.
  • Ten Paces and Turn: Williams tells Hawke the story of how Spitfire killed another captain in a pistol duel for laying hands on her without consent, even though she could have just had him executed. She keeps his duelling pistols in her shop and uses them for target practice when she is upset.
  • Title Drop: When Roc Brasiliano asks Hawke why he has come to Diego Suarez, Hawke replies that he has come "to sail against all flags".
  • Use Your Head: Patma's bodyguard Hassan attacks several of Roc's men by ramming them in the stomach with his head. This comes to an end when he accidentally runs headfirst into the mast and knocks himself out.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: What happened to the women sold off as wives to the pirates?