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The Spanish Main

The Spanish Main(1945)

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When a Dutch ship founders off Cartagena, a Spanish seaport on the Colombian coast, the ship's captain, Laurent Van Horn, pleads with the Spanish viceroy, Don Alvarado, to allow him to repair his vessel and continue his voyage. Instead, the irascible Don Alvarado imprisons Laurent and sentences him to hang. In his cell, Laurent meets Pillory and Paree, merchant sailors who have also been unfairly imprisoned by the Spanish. Banding together, the captives overpower their guards and escape. Five years pass, and Don Alvarado eagerly awaits the arrival of his bride-to-be, Francisca, the daughter of the Mexican viceroy, to whom he has become betrothed sight unseen. Don Alvarado's pleasure is diminished by the activities of the Barracuda , a pirate ship whose captain, known only as "The Barracuda," plunders the Spanish seas. As Francisca's ship enters the Spanish Main, she notices an attractive sailor on deck and approaches him. When the sailor insults her, Francisca orders him flogged. Soon after, the Barracuda attacks and Francisca frees the insolent sailor, who has been lashed to the mast. As the pirates swarm on board and overpower the Spanish crew, Francisca demands to meet The Barracuda and is stunned when she is introduced to the insolent sailor, Laurent. Laurent then brashly claims Francisca as his prisoner and declares that she will also be his bride. When the San Pablo , another Spanish craft, nears, Francisca agrees willingly to marry Laurent if he spares the vessel. A bargain is struck and the marriage ceremony is performed. On their wedding night, Francisca is about to stab her groom when she yields to his embrace and drops the knife. After tucking his wife in bed, Laurent leaves the room. When the Barracuda docks at Tortuga, an aggrieved band of buccaneers led by Mario Da Bilar and Benjamin Black grumble over Laurent's marriage to Francisca, fearful that it will bring Don Alvarado's wrath upon them. Soon after, Laurent joins the gathering and is greeted by Anne Bonny, a female pirate. Upon learning of Laurent's marriage, Anne becomes jealous and draws her sword on Francisca. Undaunted, Francisca challenges Anne to a duel by pistols. When Laurent loads the weapons with chimney soot instead of gun powder, both women end up with blackened faces. Unamused, Benjamin insists that Francisca's weapon be returned to Don Alvarado, and challenges Laurent to a duel. After easily defeating Benjamin, Laurent orders him to leave the island. Later, aboard the Barracuda , Laurent confesses his love to Francisca and proposes to her in earnest. As the couple embrace, the pirates, led by Anne and Da Bilar, burst into their cabin, commandeer the boat and announce their plans to take Francisca to Cartagena. One of the band, Captain Lussan, rows Laurent to shore in a small boat, but when they dock, Benjamin shoots Lussan and declares Laurent his prisoner. Pillory and several of Laurent's men, lolling drunkenly along the docks, witness Benjamin's treachery and come to their friend's aid. After killing Benjamin, Laurent and his men board the Cobra , a waiting ship, and sail for Cartagena. When Francisca meets her betrothed in Cartagena, she is repulsed by his corpulence and insists upon returning home to Mexico. Denying her request, Don Alvarado schedules the wedding for the next day. Under the pretense of thanking the pirates, Don Alvarado proceeds to the Barracuda , where he orders the entire crew imprisoned. When word comes of the sighting of the Cobra , Da Bilar offers to help capture Laurent in exchange for his freedom. After the Cobra docks, Da Bilar greets Laurent and tells him that he has escaped from prison. When Da Bilar claims that Francisca betrayed Laurent and bribed the crew to sail to Cartagena, Laurent pretends to believe him. Suspecting that Da Bilar has set a trap, Laurent visits Francisca that night, hoping to be arrested and imprisoned with the other pirates. As Francisca pledges her love to Laurent, Don Alvarado's men appear and arrest him. Disguised as a maid, Francisca visits the prisoners, delivering a basket of food laden with knives. When Don Alvarado pays a surprise visit, Francisca hides in Anne's cell. After he departs, Francisca pulls a gun on the guards and orders the release of the prisoners. Embracing Francisca, Laurent calls her his wife and then leads the men up the stairs. Hearing rumors of a woman in the cells, Da Bilar comes to investigate. When Laurent returns for Francisca, he finds Da Bilar, and the two men draw their swords. After Laurent fatally stabs Da Bilar, the guards, drawn by the sounds of the struggle, rush down the stairs and into combat with the pirates. Anne is killed in the battle, but before dying gives Francisca her blessing. Unaware of the strife onshore, Don Alvarado is decorating the Barracuda for his wedding day when word comes of the uprising. Disguised in priest's robes, Laurent accompanies Francisca on board while the other pirates climb up the ship's bow and defeat the guards. When Laurent drops his priest's hood and Francisca declares her allegiance to the pirates, Don Alvarado realizes that his troops have disappeared and one of the pirates wounds him with a knife. After Don Alvarado staggers to a chair, Laurent gives orders to sail past the garrison along the coast. Although the soldiers at the fort have been instructed to shoot if the ship sails before morning, they peer through a telescope and see Don Alvarado and Francisca being married by a hooded priest. After firing several rounds, the soldiers relent and shoot off rockets of congratulations instead. Once safely at sea, Francisca pleads for Don Alvarado's life, but the indolent ruler claims that he would rather be dead than forced to work, and so expires from his wounds. As the ship sails into the sunset, Laurent sweeps his bride off her feet and into their cabin below.