Black Swan (1942)




Director:   Henry King.

Starring:     Tyrone Power (Jamie Waring),  Maureen O'Hara (Lady Margaret Denby),  Laird Cregar (Captain Sir Henry Morgan),  Thomas Mitchell (Tom Blue),  George Sanders (Captain Billy Leech),  Anthony Quinn (Wogan),  George Zucco (Lord Denby),  Edward Ashley (Roger Ingram). 


Entertaining movie.  Jamie Waring (Tyrone Power) is quite the pirate.  And a pirate who is a little sad.  His mentor, Capt. Herny Morgan (Laird Cregar), is to be hanged on the day.  Waring was second in command to Morgan in the raid on Panama; at the sack of Maracaibo, Portobello and Trujillo; and the attack on Granada.

But he finds himself in trouble when on a raid he imprisons Lord Denby (George Zucco), the Governor of Jamaica.  Besides angering the beautiful Lady Margaret Denby (Margaret O'Hara), daughter of Lord Denby, he is arrested because, unbeknownst to Waring, England and Spain have recently signed a peace treaty.  Waring is saved by his comrades led by Tommy Blue (Thomas Mitchell).

Once out of immediate danger, Capt. Morgan shows up with a pardon from the King of England, Charles II, and the title of Sir.  He offers Waring and the other privateers a pardon and 100 acres of land if they now work for the new governor of Jamaica, namely, Captain Sir Morgan. Most are favorable to the idea, but Captain Leach of the Black Swan is very opposed.

Waring agrees to work for Capt. Morgan and moves with Tommy Blue to the Government House, Port Royal, Jamaica.  While there, he runs into Lady Margaret again, tries to woo her, but is vociferously rejected time and again.  The Lady Margaret has a fiancée, Roger Ingram (Edward Ashley), who, unbeknownst to her, is a traitor to Jamaica, supplying information on shipping to the pirate Captain Leach.  And Captain Morgan is suffering the political costs of the loss of ships and treasure. 

The problem for Waring, who is named the captain of the Revenge, is how to woo Lady Margaret away from Ingram and save Capt. Sir Morgan by finding out who is providing information to the enemy and catching and destroying Captain Leach. 

I enjoyed the love story between Waring and Lady Margaret.  Powell and O'Hara respectively did a great job.  (I had only seen O'Hara in films when she was older, but here she is very young and very beautiful.)

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.


Historical Background:


c. 1635   -- Henry Morgan born, the eldest son of Robert Morgan, a squire of Llanrhymmy in Glamorgan.

His background is sketchy, but it is believed he was kidnapped as a boy in Bristol.  He was sold as a slave in Barbados, eventually getting to Jamaica.

restoration of Charles II of England.

Henry's uncle Edward Morgan was Lieutenant-Governor of Jamaica. 

Henry married this uncle's daughter, his cousin, Mary.

1663  --  he joined the fleet of Christopher Myngs. He went with John Morris and Jackman to tale the Spanish settlements at Vildemos, Trujillo and Granada.

1666  --  Morgan commanded a ship in Edward Mansfield's expedition to seize the island of Old Providence (Santa Catalina).  Mansfield was captured and killed.  The buccaneers then chose Morgan as their admiral. 

1668  --  the Spanish in Cuba were planning an attack on Jamaica.  Sir Thomas Modyford, the governor of Jamaica, sent Morgan to capture some Spanish prisoners in order to get the details of the threatened attack. Morgan sacked Puerto Principe and then took the town of Puerto Bello, Panama.

Morgan negotiated with the governor of Panama to evacuate Panama on the payment of a large ransom. Morgan then returned to Port Royal, Jamaica.

In these escapades, Morgan used a considerable amount of cruelty and went beyond his authority.  The governor of Jamaica and the Admiralty in London covered up the excesses. 

His next expedition was to ravage the coast of Cuba.

1699 (January)  --  the largest of his ships was blown up accidentally with Morgan and his officers narrowly escaping death.

1699 (March)  --  he sacked Maracibo, Venezuela.

For a few weeks he stayed at the Venezuelan settlement of Gibraltar on Lake Maracibo.  He used torture to discover the location of hidden treasures.

Returned to Maracaibo.  He destroyed three Spanish ships waiting at the inlet to the Caribbean. 

When the Spanish started playing as rough as Morgan, the Jamaican captain, now commander-in-chief now of all the ships of war in Jamaica, levied total war on the Spanish.  The men were paid by the booty they claimed. 

1670  --  Morgan and his crew ravaged the coasts of Cuba and the mainland. 

1670 (December 15)  --  Morgan recaptured the island of Santa Catalina.

1670 (December 27)  --  he took the castle of Chagres, killing 300 of the garrison.

1671 (January 18)  --  with 1400 men he defeated a much larger force and took the city of Panama.  They were reward with a  booty exceeding 100,000 pounds.

1672  --  Unfortunately for Morgan, England was no longer at war with Spain.  For his excesses, including cruelty, Morgan was arrested and sent to England.

1674  --  King Charles II, learning of his famous deeds, knighted Morgan.

1675  --  Morgan returned to Jamaica to be Lieutenant Governor to Lord Vaughan who was to succeed governor Lynch.

Back in Jamaica, he worked with the council and extended his wealth as a rich sugar planter. 

When the Jamaican governor was in England, he acted as governor. 

Certain politicians were able to get Morgan ousted from the council.  But shortly before his death, he was restored to that body. 

He ruined his health by heavy drinking and debauchery.

1688  -- death of Captain Morgan. 

Shortly after his death, an earthquake wiped out Port Royal, the city he had done so much to build. 



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