Morgan the Pirate (1960)




Director:     Andre de Toth.

Starring:     Steve Reeves (Henry Morgan),  Valerie Lagrange (Dona Inez),  Ivo Garrani (Governor Don José Guzman),  Lydia Alfonsi (Dona Maria),  Giulio Bosetti (Sir Thomas Modyford), Angelo Zanolli (David), George Ardisson (Walter), Dino Malacrida (Duke), Anita Todesco, Armand Mestral (L'Olonnais)Chelo Alonso (Concepcion).

an English slave working for the Spaniards leads a revolt onboard ship;  he and his men become pirates and make Spain suffer for their cruelty  


Spoiler Warning:    

In the 17th Century, the iron rule of Spain in South America was defied by a small, obstinate group of men.  They attempted to take for their own the fabulous riches accumulated on the new continent.  Today these men are remembered as a symbol of terror and courage, of cruelty and grandeur.  The Buccaneers. 

Panama, the richest city of the Spanish Colonial Empire.

Women are being sold as slaves to interested buyers.  The Governor's daughter, Dona Inez, arrives via a stagecoach.  She sees a strong, handsome man being sold as a slave.  The fellow is very rebellious and it takes four men to hold him still while two other men hit him with their whips.  The Governor's daughter decides to buy the troublesome slave.  The slave owner is very happy to sell the troublemaker to get rid of him once and for all.  The slave's name is Henry Morgan and he's an Englishman. 

Dona Inez and Henry stare at each other in passing.  She speaks to him about one of her horses.  He places his hand on her hand and Dona Inez thinks the Englishman is a bit fresh with her.  The lady with Inez asks her why is Dona Inez being so familiar with the English slave?  Dona Inez just smiles. 

At night Inez goes into see the foal that has just been born.  And she knew the Englishman would be caring for the little horse.  She asks her female companion Maria to stay outside the stable and warn her if anybody is coming.  Inez enjoys seeing the colt, but she really wants to learn more about Henry Morgan.  He says his father was a royalist in England during the time of the English Civil War.  When Cromwell took over in England, Henry was kidnapped and made a slave.  Inez tells him that one day her father might make Henry a freeman.  Henry says he only wants what is his.  He was born free and wants to return to being free.  Inez accuses Henry of acting beyond his station in live and grabs something with which to hit him.  He grabs her and kisses her.  She starts to return his kisses.

Inez's companion comes into the stables and sees the two people kissing each other passionately.  And now the companion starts calling for the guards.  The guards come into the stable and one of them asks Henry to come with them.  Henry puts up no resistance.

And now Henry is in a wooden cage placed on top of a flat cart pulled by two oxen.  Henry is with six condemned men.  All are supposed to be executed today but since it is a festival day, only one man will be drawn and quartered.  Names will be drawn from a container and the last man picked will be the one to be executed.  Henry Morgan is the next to the last name called. 

Ropes are placed on all the four limbs of the condemned man.  Horses are now set running in four different directions which tears the man apart.

The spared men are now placed on a Spanish ship, but are treated worse than dogs.  Henry and another man lead a revolt.  They grab the last guards climbing out of the hold, get the keys from them and start unlocking the locks holding the slaves in their shackles.  Two more guards rush down the steps with rifles in their hands, but these guards are grabbed too.  The slaves use the guards to hide behind as they climb up the steps and out of the hold.  The guards and some of the slaves are shot down, but the slaves are getting the upper hand.  The slaves take over the ship and throw the dead overboard along with the wounded sailors. 

The crew now chooses Henry as their new captain.  Henry says all the crew are now freemen.  And they want to get vengeance on their once Spanish overlords.  And while they're doing that, they might as well get rich too.  Henry plans to sail to the Island of Tortuga where there are pirates which will help them.  [Tortuga Island is a Caribbean island that forms part of Haiti, off the northwest coast of Hispaniola, that was a pirate stronghold in the 17th-century.]  Up goes a black pirates' flag. 

On Tortuga some new captives are shown to the pirates eating and drinking in a restaurant.  One of the women is Dona Inez and another is her "lookout".  The men start grabbing at the pretty women and teasing them.  Then Captain Morgan arrives with his crew.  The pirate leaders asks Henry who are they?  Henry gives his name and says these are his men.  They have just recently captured a Spanish galleon and now they want to join with the pirates. 

Henry says he wants to take these recently captured women with him and his crew.  And he wants the leader to supply his ship with the necessary supplies.  The pirate leader tells Henry that he has to know something first.  He slugs Henry in the face saying all the pirates take their orders from him.  Henry manages to stay up.  Now he slugs the pirate leader in the face and the leader goes all the way to the ground.  So now the leader wants to have a knife fight with his challenger. 

The leader starts to take off his shirt, but when he sees how muscular Henry is, he decides to fence with Henry instead.  The fight begins.  Henry wins the match, but does not kill the pirate leader.  The leader says that Henry made a mistake.  Henry should have killed him. 

Henry tells the leader that he needs supplies.  So the leader tells two men to go get some clothes for the new pirates.  The two men bring down a chest filled with pretty women's dresses.  So now all the men laugh at Henry and his crew with their nice dresses.  Henry tells his men to bring the dresses with them for they may come in handy one day.  He tells Inez and her lookout to come along with them. 

On board ship, Dona Inez thanks the Captain for saving them from the beasts back there.  She also says that one of his men took a locket from her that was given to her by her mother.  Henry says he will get back the locket for her.  Now Henry asks her what is she doing in Tortuga?  Inez says it was all Henry's fault, because of his fresh behavior, Inez's father send her on a ship bound for Spain.  The pirates took over their ship, and now they are on Tortuga.  Inez says she will see that Henry is handsomely reward when they get back to Panama.  Henry enlightens her quickly, saying that he doesn't take orders from anyone and she is staying here on Tortuga.  Inez leaves Henry's presence. 

At sea the new crew spots another Spanish ship.  They hoist up the Spanish flag.  The crew now puts on their dresses. 

The two ships come together.  Inez sees that there will be trouble and goes downstairs where she will be out of the way of the greatest danger.  The men on the Spanish ship are eager to get over to see the women.  As they get real close to the pirates, a man notices that the women are really men dressed as women.  He shouts out the alarm, but it's too late.  The pirates throw their grabbling hooks over onto the Spanish ship and pull the two ships together.  Now the pirates rush onto the Spanish ship.  The pirates have the element of surprise with them and they take over the other ship. 

Henry returns to his own ship.  Inez tells him that a man here is badly hurt.  Henry says it's too late to be able to help the wounded man. Inez goes to lay her head on Henry's shoulder, but he pushes her back.  That makes her mad and she says he's nothing but a murderer.  He replies that she's very beautiful. 

Back on Tortuga the pirates there receive Morgan as a hero.  They all have lots of money now thanks to the Englishman.  The lookout Maria has found a man on Tortuga that she likes.  His name in Enrique. 

The sexy dancer Consuela dances for the pirates.  Henry watches the performance and likes what he sees.  Inez comes over to see Henry.  He returns Inez's medallion to her.  Consuela now goes over to Henry to see if see can have greater success with Henry.  But not even she can make Henry forget Inez.  He goes to see Inez in her room.  She is still angry at him.  He kisses her, but she doesn't respond, so he lets her go and leaves her room. 

Panama.  The Governor learns that his Inez is a prisoner of Morgan the Pirate.  He is determined to get his daughter back.  He offers a reward of 15,000 ducats to whoever captures or kills Morgan the Pirate.  The notice is sent out all over the region. 

Morgan decides they will sail for Cartagena, Columbia.  He and his men get richer and richer with each ship they take. 

An English ship arrives at Tortuga.  The Governor of Jamaica is rowed to shore.  The Governor says he wants to speak to Captain Henry Morgan on behalf of the King of England. 

Meanwhile, Inez tries to get one of the men to get her and Maria onto the English ship.  She tells the man that her father will at the least give him 20,000 ducats for her return to Panama.  The man tells a guard to watch Inez very closely while he attends to some business.

Henry tells the Governor of Jamaica that he feels no allegiance to the King of England.  The Governor says the King will supply both ships, men and supplies to Henry.  All England wants is for Henry to become a privateer for England and against Spain.  If Henry will cooperate, there is a possible knighthood awaiting for Henry and Henry could even be made an admiral in the Royal Navy.  Henry asks what will the King want from him?  Oh, only one-third of Henry's take.  The Governor now says he will retire to his ship and await an answer from the Captain. 

Over dinner the captain listens to his men talk about the possible deal.  Some of the men have their doubts.  The former pirate leader asks if Henry really has their interests at heart, and not just his own interests.  And now he has Inez come into the room.  He asks Henry if he knows this woman?  He does.  The former leader asks then why is it that Henry never told his fellow pirates that this woman is the daughter of the Governor of Panama and the Viceroy to the Indies?  After all, they can ransom the woman for a great deal of money.  Henry says that the Governor is offering 20,000 ducats for the return of his daughter, but Henry will pay the pirates 30,000 ducats.  The former leader says he will accept Henry's money, but it must really be Henry's own money. 

Now Henry tells Inez that if she's in such a hurry to get back to Panama, she is free to sail away with the English ship.  Inez tells him:  "Thank you."  She leaves immediately.  As she starts walking away she hears Henry say that their men are going to take Panama.  He says Panama is the richest city in the Americas. 

Inez goes down to the beach.  Maria says she is staying on Tortuga because she has finally found the man that she loves.  Inez says she will never forget her.  They hug and say goodbye.  Henry watches as Inez goes into the boat that will take her to the English ship.

The Governor of Panama now thanks the Governor of Jamaica for bringing Inez back to him.  And the Governor of Panama wants the other Governor to accept the award money.  The Governor of Jamaica tells him to distribute the money among the poor people of Panama.

The Governor of Panama confers with his staff.  According to what Inez told him, Henry Morgan will be headed for Panama to take it over in the near future.  The staff laughs at the very idea. 

Henry gets more ships for a total of five ships and now is headed for Panama.  When he gets near there he tells his staff that Panama is just behind those hills there.  The port is guarded by two forts.  Henry's ship and one more will head into the port.  The rest of the men are to wait for him on the shore. 

The two ships head into the port.  Henry says that it's a little too quiet in Panama today.  He tells his men to get to their battle stations. 

The order is given for the forts to open fire on the two invading ships.  Henry's ship is being hit by some of the cannon balls.  He tells the signal man to tell the other ship to retreat.  Henry is firing his cannon, but the cannon balls don't seem to be hitting their intended targets.  Soon, Henry has to give the order for his men to abandon ship.  The men start jumping into the harbor water.  They swim away from the ship.  The ship is still being hit and goes up in a big explosion.

The Governor's military men inform him that Henry and his men are definitely dead, for no one could have survived that last explosion.  So now Panama is going to celebrate their victory with a huge festival.   Dona Inez dances with a gentleman at the formal ball, while the people celebrate the victory outside.  Henry comes to the ball all dressed up in his finest clothes.  He dances with Inez for awhile, then walks her to her seat at the banquet table.  He gives the Governor a small gift, saying that by the Governor dispatching Henry Morgan, one of his friends was saved.  Henry now leaves.  Inside the gift is a note saying that Henry will come to see the Governor under less formal circumstances on another day.  The Governor takes the note as a joke: what the English call "a sense of humor".  

Inez comes out to see Henry.  She says it was her duty to warn her father about the raid.  Inez also says that Henry should leave.  Henry says he will go if she tells him she doesn't love him and wants never to see him again.  She says the words, but she doesn't mean them.  Henry kisses her and now she kisses him.  She says she loves him and she wants to go with him now.  Henry says he can't do that because of his men, but he will come back some day soon and take her, not to Tortuga, but to someplace peaceful and calm.

The couple was seen by a maid and she reports the information to the Governor.  When Inez comes in, her father demands that she tell him who was that man she was with.  The Governor thinks that the man was probably Henry Morgan.  He then says that means Inez has been cooperating with the enemy and she has betrayed her father and her country.  She asks for her father's forgiveness for she loves the man.  Her father slaps her hard across the face.  He tells her that she is not to leave her quarters without his permission. 

The Governor of Jamaica reproaches Henry for attacking Panama.  It was a foolhardy idea, lots of good men were lost and a lot of money was wasted.  And there is now a scandal in London concerning the failed invasion.  Henry says that they actually took a lot of treasure out of Panama.  He has two large chests filled with treasure brought into the room.  So the attack is now paid for by the treasure Henry took.  And he tells the Governor that he is going to attack Panama again, but this time they will march their men from the other side of Panama  --  the side that is not defended. 

Now Henry tells him men about his new plans for Panama.  The men are not sure about the plan.  Some say they are sailors, not soldiers.  Consuela gets mad and says that she is not afraid to follow Captain Morgan to Panama.  She says the men in the room are all cowards.  Another woman gets up and says that Consuela is just saying that because she is in love with Captain Morgan.  Everybody knows that!  Consuela slaps the woman back down into her seat.  When the woman tries to get back up, Consuela pushes her down again.  Everyone has a good laugh, and the former leader says they will follow Captain Morgan.   He says he personally wants to see the Panama cannon blow Morgan to pieces. 

A message comes to the Governor of Jamaica that England and Spain are negotiating a peace treaty at the moment.  That means that they will have no more need for the privateer Morgan.  The Governor says he sees, he must leave Morgan to his own fate now. 

Morgan has waited for two weeks for the English ships to show up.  The former leader tells him that tomorrow he is taking his men back to Tortuga.  Morgan says they will wait for two more weeks if they have to.  The former leader then says he'll give Morgan one more day to wait for the ships, but then they are leaving.  At night, however, the former leader sees that their two ships are burning.  Now the men have no choice but to head for Panama following Morgan.  And now Morgan walks up on the beach from the water.  The former leader grabs his knife, but he doesn't use it.  They will follow Morgan. 

Inez's father comes in her room to tell her she will be sailing for Spain.  Once in Spain she will have an arranged marriage with a man of high estate.  Inez says she is not leaving Panama.  He says she has no say in the matter and that one day she will thank her father for doing this for her.

The men are making the long trek to the port city on the other side of Panama.  A local farmer sees hundreds of pirates coming across his land.  He runs to the fort and tells the officer there about the pirates.  The officer thinks the farmer drank too much last night at a wedding ceremony.  He boots the farmer away from the gates of the fort.  

Coming toward the fort are cows and sheep in great numbers.  The guards are trying to make sense of it all.  Then they see the pirates heading toward the fort just behind the animals.  The order goes out that everyone is to proceed up on the ramparts.  A messenger rushes over to tell the Governor that the pirates are attacking the back gates.  The Governor orders that the sea cannon be switched to the back ramparts.  People outside rush into the fort. 

The pirates blow the gates open and rush into the fort.  Inside the fort a wounded man sets fire to to the powder kegs and they explode. 

Father tells Inez to go down to the harbor and get on one of the boats heading for Spain.    Inez starts walking.  She gets wounded and falls on the ground.  A pirate takes her precious medallion her mother gave her from off her neck as she lays on the ground unconscious. 

Now the fort surrenders  to the pirates.  Henry will go speak with the Governor.  Henry asks where is the Governor's daughter?  He is crestfallen when he is told that Inez left on a ship headed to Spain.  Consuela comes over and tells Henry that he has done it.  He has taken Panama and he will be famous for that accomplishment. 

As Morgan goes through the treasures accumulated by his pirates, he finds Inez's medallion.  He shouts that he will give the one who found this medallion a thousand ducats.  The pirate comes forward and says he took the medallion off a woman laying in the street.  She seemed dead to the pirate.  Morgan tells the pirate to lead the way to where he found the woman.  The pirate takes Morgan over to Inez and Morgan discovers that Inez is very much alive.  He awakens his beloved Inez.  He pulls her upward and tells her that he will never leave her behind again. 



Henry Morgan was much more than just "Henry Morgan the Pirate".  He was an experienced captain of various ships and even obtained the rank of admiral.  Morgan was an important privateer working for the English and particularly for the Governor of Jamaica.  He engaged in many battles and sacked quite a few Spanish settlements when England and Spain were fighting each other.  He is probably best known for his capture of Panama City, in modern day Panama.  The Historical Background below corrects some of the mistakes in the film, which was a pretty good swashbuckler with lots of action and a love story.  Steve Reeves was good in the film and not as muscular as he was in later films.  I suppose I was prejudiced a bit against Reeves because of his playing characters who are hulks. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.




Historical Background:

c. 1635  --  birth of Henry Morgan on a farm in Cardiff, Wales.  

Henry said he left school early.  Morgan's surgeon at  Panama, wrote that Henry was an indentured servant in Barbados, but later Morgan sued the publisher for libel and the statement was removed from later editions of the book. 

Morgan sailed to the Caribbean to take part in the Western Design, Cromwell's plan to invade Hispaniola.

1654 (December)  --  the fleet left Portsmouth.

1655 (January)  --  the fleet arrives in the West Indies. 

1655 (May)  --  an English amphibious expedition led by General at Sea William Penn, father of the founder of Pennsylvania, and General Robert Venables invaded Spanish territory in the West Indies with the objective of capturing Hispaniola.

Morgan's first battle at Santo Domingo failed.

The fleet moved on to Jamaica, which the English successfully took by force and occupied it. 

Henry Morgan married his uncle's daughter Mary, a cousin.

1661 --  Commodore Christopher Mings appointed Morgan captain of his first vessel.

1663  --  Henry joined the fleet of Christopher Mings.

late 1665  --  Morgan commanded a ship in the old privateer Edward Mansfield's expedition sent by Sir Thomas Modyford, the governor of Jamaica.  Modyford granted Morgan letters of marque to attack Spanish ships and settlements.  They seized the islands of Providencia and Santa Catalina Island, Colombia. When Mansfield was captured by the Spanish and executed shortly afterward, the privateers elected Morgan as their admiral.

Modyford desired to get rid of the Dutch presence in the Caribbean so he had Captain Edward Mansvelt assemble a fleet of fifteen ships. Morgan was appointed vice admiral of the fleet. Mansvelt was given orders to attack the Dutch settlement of Curaçao, but the crew decided to attack the Spanish island of Providence because the island was less dangerous and more lucrative.   The Spanish were taken by surprise and surrendered all their forts.  The Spanish soon retook Providence.  There was fear in Jamaica that the Spanish might attack there as revenge for the English attack on Providence. 

1667  --  Morgan was commissioned by Modyford to capture some Spanish prisoners in Cuba in order to discover details of the threatened attack on Jamaica. With 10 ships Morgan landed on Cuba and sacked Puerto Principe (Camagüey).  Morgan than ravaged the Cuban coast. 

The Cuba stint did not prove profitable enough for Morgan and his pirates.  So they decided to take Porto Bello in modern-day Panama.  The city was the third most important Spanish city in the New World.  Morgan and his men captured Porto Bello. 

Now Morgan is sent to attack the Spanish settlement of Cartagena de Indias.

1669 (March)  --  the English were to attack Cartagena.  But the ships ran into storms and the damages made it impossible for the English to take Cartagena.  So Morgan raids Maracaibo and Gibraltar in modern day's Venezuela.  Through his fast and clever thinking, Morgan just barely got out of the area. 

Now Morgan turns his attention on Panama. 

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

1670 (December 27)  --  Morgan gained possession of the fortress of San Lorenzo on the Caribbean coast of Panama.  Now Morgan heads toward the Pacific coast and Panama City.  They took Panama City but the plunder there was not much. 

1672  --  because the sack of Panama violated the 1670 peace treaty between England and Spain, Morgan was arrested and taken to England.  Morgan got out of hot water by saying he knew nothing about the 1670 peace treaty. 

1674  --  Morgan was knighted.

1675 --   Morgan returns to Jamaica to be its Lieutenant Governor. He later became the acting governor of Jamaica. 

1681  --  Henry was replaced by long-time political rival Thomas Lynch.

1683  --  Morgan was suspended from the Jamaican Council.

1688  --  Morgan dies after contracting tuberculosis when in London. 

(Information was all from Wikipedia.)


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