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Corsair (1931)

A stock market broker plans to liven up his boring life by taking up piracy on the high seas.


Roland West


Walton Green (from a novel by), Roland West (picturized by) | 1 more credit »


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Complete credited cast:
Chester Morris ... John Hawks
Thelma Todd ... Alison Corning (as Alison Loyd)
Fred Kohler ... Big John
Ned Sparks ... Slim
Emmett Corrigan Emmett Corrigan ... Stephen Corning
William Austin ... Richard Bentinck
Frank McHugh ... 'Chub' Hopping
Frank Rice ... Fish Face
Mayo Methot ... Sophie
Gay Seabrook Gay Seabrook ... Susie Grenoble (as Gay Seabrooke)
Addie McPhail Addie McPhail ... Jean Phillips
Al Hill ... First Mate of the Corsair
Pat Hartigan Pat Hartigan ... (as Patrick Hartigan)
Sidney D'Albrook Sidney D'Albrook


A stock market broker plans to liven up his boring life by taking up piracy on the high seas.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis




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Release Date:

28 November 1931 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

O Corsário See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
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Did You Know?


This film was first telecast on New York City's pioneer television station W2XBS Friday 16 February 1940. It is one of over 200 titles in the list of independent feature films made available for television presentation by Advance Television Pictures announced in Motion Picture Herald 4 April 1942. At this time, television broadcasting was in its infancy, almost totally curtailed by the advent of World War II, and would not continue to develop until 1945-1946. It first aired in Cincinnati Tuesday 20 September 1949 on WCPO Channel 7). See more »


Alison Corning: If you've nothing better to do, a few of us are going to spend the weekend on our yacht.
John Hawks: Well, thanks, but - I'm all dated up for the weekend.
Alison Corning: Well, if you should change your mind, we'll be glad to have you.
See more »


Referenced in Пуаро: The King of Clubs (1989) See more »

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User Reviews

Adventurous middle section can't overcome slow opening, pat finish
1 December 2011 | by csteidlerSee all my reviews

The early moments of Corsair offer a big buildup for our first look at Alison Loyd: we can hear her conversation with dance partner Frank McHugh, but our only view is of the back of her head. A moment later she is introduced to football hero Chester Morris, and again, she speaks unseen….until finally, in close up, her big smile flashes onto the screen. –Of course, it's Thelma Todd's smile. This big introduction apparently aims at establishing Todd as a mysterious and glamorous figure; presumably, this is why Todd is billed as "Alison Loyd" for the first and (I think) only time—to differentiate her "new" persona from the light comic actress Thelma Todd had been (and would continue to be, thank heavens!).

Unfortunately, the plot and dialog of Corsair offer Todd/Loyd little else to do besides smile and act alternately spoiled and silly. Her character is a major motivator to the actions of other characters—but she really does little and develops less herself. Which is too bad! Director Roland West didn't do Thelma justice by setting her up as a dangerous female and then giving her practically no depth, surprises or even decent lines to speak.

Chester Morris comes off better as a football hero turned banker turned pirate. Fired from his broker job for being unwilling to steal a little old lady's savings, he sets out to prove the boss banker wrong in his assertion that Morris doesn't have the nerve to be successful. Nerve? Morris sets up a booze pirating operation that is daring, dangerous and profitable…and sells the banker liquor by the boatload.

The middle section of the movie builds tension around Morris's organization and the danger he faces as his victims—a gang of smugglers themselves—eventually catch on to his operation and hatch plans to capture and wipe him out. Indeed, it turns into a pretty good adventure movie once it gets rolling.

Frank McHugh adds liveliness in his role as Morris's right hand man. Fred Kohler is appropriately menacing as "Big John" the smuggler. Morris, a solid lead, gives an excellent performance as a man who chooses and sticks to his own unique code of conduct.

The scenes between Morris and Todd ought to be the highlights of a film like this….but it's just the opposite. They speak so slowly…how do you make Chester Morris and Thelma Todd into slow talkers? –It's not just a function of the movie being an early talkie, either; there's a deliberateness to these scenes apparently meant to be serious and dramatic—and instead, all it does is drag.

As an adventure, it's not bad. But darn, in the "dramatic" sections, this is a movie in bad need of some zippy dialog.

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