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STUDIO:  Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer


PRODUCTION DATES:  December 2, 1946 – August 14, 1947; 
August 27 – October 21, 1947; November 18, 1947

PRODUCTION COST:   $3,768,496

RUNNING TIME:  102 minutes

RELEASE DATE:  World Premiere: May 15, 1948 (Montreal, Quebec); Radio City Music Hall Premiere: May 20, 1948; General Release: June 10, 1948.


Trailer in HD

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Judy Garland as Manuela Alva

Gene Kelly as Serafin

Walter Slezak as Don Pedro Vargas

Gladys Cooper as Aunt Inez

Reginald Owen as the Advocate

George Zucco as the Viceroy

The Nicholas Brothers as Specialty Dancers

Lester Allen as Uncle Capucho

Lola Deem as Isabella

Ellen Ross as Mercedes

Mary Jo Ellis as Lizarda

Jean Dean as Casilda

Marion Murray as Eloise

Ben Lessey as Gumbo

Jerry Bergen as Bolo

Val Setz as Juggler

Gaudsmith Brothers as Themselves

Cully Richards as Trillo

Produced by: Arthur Freed

Directed by: Vincente Minnelli

Screen Play by: Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich

Based on the Play by S. N. Behrman as produced by The Playwrights Producing Company and The Theatre Guild
(some sources also credit Lillian Braun, Anita Loos, Joseph L. Mankiewicz, Joseph Than and Wilkie Mahoney as having contributed to the writing)

Musical Direction: Lennie Hayton

Instrumental Arrangements: Conrad Salinger

Songs by: Cole Porter

Dance Direction by: Robert Alton and Gene Kelly

Art Directors: Cedric Gibbons and Jack Martin Smith

Paintings by: Doris Lee

Set Decorations: Edwin B. Willis

Associate: Arthur Krans

(Gene Kelly)

Mack the Black
(Judy Garland)

The Pirate Ballet
(Gene Kelly dance)

You Can Do No Wrong
(Judy Garland)

Be a Clown
(Gene Kelly and The Nicholas Brothers)

Love of My Life
(Judy Garland)

Be a Clown
(Judy Garland and Gene Kelly)

Voodoo (outtake)
(Judy Garland)


The Pirate can be considered “Judy’s cult film” in a sense. Indeed, the film is unlike any other musical (or other films) released in 1948 and the result is that people either love it or hate it. There is no in-between. Producer Arthur Freed said that it was “twenty years ahead of its time.”  It’s lauded for Minnelli’s use of color and Gene Kelly’s dancing although critics were (and still are) divided on the merits of the acting. Some felt that Judy and Gene overacted. Others loved the high farce the production was aiming for. I personally love Judy’s performance in the film. Yes, sometimes you can see some of the strain she was under, but overall her talents as a comedienne really shine through.

The production was plagued with problems from the start. This was Judy’s return to the studio after giving birth to Liza Minnelli and she suffered severe postpartum depression. She also did not relish the thought of returning to the intense grind (and dieting) required in making musicals. She had been talked into renewing her MGM contract paying her an incredible $6,000.00 per week and requiring she only make two films a year. Later she would say that it was “one of the classic mistakes of my life”.

But all of the issues can’t be blamed solely on Judy. The script went through many changes. Most famously the Anita Loos and Joseph Than take on the story altered the premise by making the pirate impersonate an actor impersonating a pirate, rather than the more believable story of an actor impersonating a pirate (who happens to have become the mayor of the town). The husband-wife writing team of Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett were brought in to rewrite the script.

The music went through many changes as well. The first scoring of “Mack The Black” had what Freed called a sound “like a Chinese carnival,” meaning it sounded very over arranged and shrill. When going through a rehearsal of “You Can Do No Wrong,” Judy and Porter had harsh words with each other over the pronunciation of the word “caviar.” The argument was attributed to Judy being over medicated, because she normally adored Porter and his talent. “Love Of My Life” was also re-recorded.

Over the years, The Pirate has become one of Garland fan’s most well loved films in spite of its minor faults. It may not make the top 10 list of everyone’s favorite musicals, but it was a great experiment at the time and helped advance the film musical to the heights it would achieve in just a few years

Overture & Opening in HD

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"Mack the Black" in HD

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  • December 2, 1946:  Judy returned to MGM after her maternity leave (during which she gave birth to daughter Liza Minnelli) to begin wardrobe tests and rehearsals for The Pirate.  This first day back was a short, easy one.  She also had a radio broadcast in the evening, the 60-minute radio version of Meet Me in St. Louis for the “Lux Radio Theater.”
  • December 5, 1946:  Judy’s mother, Ethel Gumm, called MGM and told them Judy was ill and couldn’t work on this day.
  • December 12, 1946:  Judy’s maid called MGM and told them that Judy couldn’t make the wardrobe fitting scheduled for this day.
  • December 27, 1946:  Judy’s first recording session for The Pirate.  Judy recorded “Mack the Black.”  The session lasted from 1:10 to 5:20 p.m.  This version of the song was unused but the recording can be heard here.
  • February 3, 1947:  Judy had silent makeup and wardrobe tests for the film.  time called: 1 p.m.; dismissed: 5:20 p.m.
  • February 11, 1947:  Judy had music rehearsals of “Mack the Black.”  time called: 3 p.m.; dismissed: 4:35 p.m.
  • February 12, 1947:  Judy had another rehearsal of “Mack the Black.”  Recordings were made of the song, Parts 1 & 2, split up into separate tracks of Bar 1 to 16; Bar 16 – 103; Bar 103 – 158; plus Bar 158 – “End of Pt II.”
  • February 13, 1947:  More rehearsals (but no recordings) of “Mack the Black.”
  • February 17, 1947:  The first day of shooting was devoted to scenes shot on the “Interior Manuela’s Patio” set.  Time called: 9 a.m.; Judy arrived at 9:14 a.m.; dismissed: 6 p.m.
  • February 18, 1947:  Filming continued, this time on the “Exterior patio” and “Interior Manuela’s Bedroom” sets.  Time called: 9 a.m.; Judy arrived at 9:10 a.m.; dismissed: 5:45 p.m.
  • February 21, 1947:  Filming moved to the “Interior Manuela’s Bedroom” (Judy in the wedding dress) and “Interior Hotel Bedroom” sets.  Time called: 9 a.m.; Judy arrived at 9:20 a.m.; dismissed: 6:30 p.m.
  • February 22, 1947:  The assistant director’s notes state that “Miss Garland was on her way to the studio, but had to return to her home as she was ill and nervously exhausted after spending a sleepless night.”
  • February 25, 1947:  Judy had a music rehearsal for “Voodoo.”  Time called: 2 p.m.; dismissed: 4:40 p.m.
  • February 26, 1947:  Judy had a music rehearsal for “Voodoo.”  Time called: 2 p.m.; dismissed: 4:25 p.m.
  • February 27 & 28, 1947:  Judy was out sick.
  • March 3, 1947:  Judy resumed rehearsals of the “Voodoo” number.  Time called: 2 p.m.; dismissed: 4:50 p.m. Rehearsals of the number continued March 28th.
  • April 7, 1948: Filming continued for two days on the “Exterior Port Sebastian Dock” set on MGM’s Backlot #2, the “Chinese Street” which was flooded to look like a port (the flooding of the set for various films was not unusual).  Judy was not in any of the “Port Sebastian Dock” scenes but she was in scenes that took place in “Port Sebastian” on MGM’s soundstages.  It’s doubtful Judy had any work on the film on these days of shooting on the backlot.  Those who did had an 11:00 a.m. call and were dismissed at 1:45 p.m.
  • April 9, 1947:  Filming moved to the “Exterior Plaza” set.  Time called: 10:15 a.m.; dismissed: 3:30 p.m.
  • April 10, 1947:  Judy rehearsed then recorded “Voodoo.”  time called: 12 p.m.; dismissed: 5 p.m.
  • April 11, 1947:  Filming continued on the “Exterior Plaza” set.  Time called: 3 p.m.; dismissed: 6:05 p.m.
  • April 12, 1947:  Filming began on the “Exterior and Interior Show Tent” set.  Time called: 11 a.m.; dismissed: 5:50 p.m.
  • April 14, 1947:  Filming continued on the “Interior Dressing Room” and Interior Show Tent” sets.  Time called: 10:30 a.m.; dismissed: 6 p.m.
  • April 15, 1947:  The first noted day of filming the ultimately deleted “Voodoo” number.  Time called: 9:45 a.m.; dismissed: 6 p.m.
  • April 16, 1947:  Filming continued on the “Interior Show Tent” set, the “Voodoo” number.  Judy had a call to be on the set at 9;45 a.m.  The assistant director’s reports note: “At 8:30 a.m. Miss Garland called Wally Worsley to say that she was in makeup dept. and that she was calling her doctor and could report to the set as soon as possible.  Miss Garland on set 11:10 a.m.; Ready in Wardrobe to work at 11:32 a.m.  Note: Miss Garland was taken ill during lunch and company was unable to continue ‘Voodoo’ number.”  The company was dismissed: 1:45 p.m.
  • April 17 through April 21, 1947:  Judy was ill and did not work.
  • April 22, 1947:  Judy returned to the production.  Scenes were shot on the “Interior Show Tent” and “Interior Manuela Rec. Room” sets.  The assistant director’s notes state: “Co. wrapped up at 5:25 p.m. as Miss Garland was too tired to continue.”  The company had started at 10:05 a.m.
  • April 24, 1947:  The production moved to the “Exterior Sea Wall” set.  time called: 9:45 a.m.; dismissed: 6:05 p.m.
  • April 25, 1947:  The production moved back to the “Interior Show Tent” set, and more of the “Voodoo” number.  Time called: 9:45 a.m.; Judy arrived at 10 a.m.; dismissed: 6:15 p.m.
  • April 26, 1947:  The production moved back to the “Interior Manuela’s Bedroom” set.  Time called: 9:45 a.m.; dismissed: 5:25 p.m.
  • April 29, 1947:  The production moved to the “Interior Reception Room” set.  Time called: 9:45 a.m.; dismissed: 4 p.m.
  • May 1, 1947:  The production moved to the “Exterior Don Pedro’s House” on MGM’s backlot.  Judy may or may not have been a part of the filming on this day.  
  • May 2, 1947:  A rare day off for Judy.  She wasn’t on call and wasn’t needed on this day.  
  • May 3, 1947:  Filming continued.  It’s not noted which set they were on.  The call was for 3 p.m.  The assistant director’s notes state: “4:11-4:39: Present birthday cake to Mr. Slezak [Walter Slezak who played the real Mack the Black Pirate/Mayor of the town]; served cake and ice cream.”  Dismissed: 5:20 p.m.
  • May 6 & 7, 1947:  Judy was out sick.
  • May 8, 1947:  Filming continued on the “Manuela’s Bedroom” set.  Time called: 9:45 a.m.; Judy arrived at 11:35 a.m.; dismissed: 3:05 p.m.  The assistant director’s notes state: “11:44-12:00: Wait for Miss Garland, called for a 9:45 a.m. on set; 11:35 a.m.: changing into wardrobe and body makeup from 11:35 to noon.  Note: Director arranged 1st setup so that only Miss Garland’s dress showed in shot and off stage dialogue was read for her lines.  1:47-1:55 – Wait for Miss Garland and Mr. Minnelli; 1:55-2:20 – Mr. Minnelli changed setup: Shooting close cut of Mr. Slezak and Mr. Allen while waiting for Miss Garland who is in her dressing room waiting to talk to Mr. Freed.  2:46-3:05: wait for Miss Garland.  3:05 – Finish.  Note: Miss Garland is too ill to continue.”
  • May 9 & 10, 1947:  Judy was out sick.
  • May 12, 1947:  Judy returned to the production.  Scenes were shot on the “Manuela’s Bedroom” and “Interior Sebastian Hotel Bedroom” sets.  Time called: 9:45 a.m.; dismissed: 6:20 p.m.
  • May 13, 1947:  Pre-recording session.  Judy recorded “Love of My Life” and “You Can Do No Wrong.”  
  • May 14, 1947:  The production moved to the “Exterior Plaza Calvados” set.  Time called: 1 p.m.; Judy arrived at 2:23 p.m.  The assistant director’s notes state: “3:40 p.m.: Miss Garland too ill to continue – left set.”
  • May 15, 1947:  Judy was out sick.
  • May 16, 1947:  Judy returned to the production.  Time called: 9:45 a.m.; dismissed: 5:35 p.m.  The location of the filming isn’t noted.
  • May 17, 1947:  The production moved to the “Interior Don Pedro’s House” set.  Time called: 10 a.m.; Judy arrived at 10:40 a.m.The assistant director’s notes are quite detailed for this day: “1:15-1:52 – Wait for Miss Garland; returned to stage after lunch at 1:49; Ready to shoot at 1:52 p.m. Note: At 1:15 p.m. Miss Garland told Mr. Shenberg in her dressing room that she had pains in her stomach and she was not well.  She also said that the reason she was late this morning, but that she try and work out the day and that she would have to work slowly and take things easy in order to keep on her feet. 2:34-2:53: Wait for Miss Garland: resting in her dressing room. Dismissed at 6:20 p.m.”
  • May 18 & 19:  Judy was out sick.
  • May 20 through 24, 1947:  Judy was not needed and was not on call.  
  • May 26, 1947:  Judy returned to the production to film more scenes on the “Interior Don Pedro’s House” set.  Time called: 9:45 a.m.; Judy arrived at 10:15 a.m.  The assistant director’s notes state: “3:45-4:07: Wait for Miss Garland.  Note: At 3:40 Miss Garland asked to see Dr. Jones in her dressing room – she complained of a severe toothache and said she could not continue to work unless Dr. Jones gave her a pill to deaden the pain – Dr. Jones gave Miss Garland the pill and she was ready to work at 4:07.”  Dismissed: 5:30 p.m.
  • May 27, 1947:  Judy was out sick.
  • May 28, 1947:  The production moved to the “Interior Don Pedro’s Salon” set.  Time called: 9:45 a.m.; dismissed: 6 p.m.  Judy and Vincente’s daughter, Liza Minnelli, was a visitor to the set and many photos were taken of the event (see below). 


The deleted “Voodoo” number is legendary in the history of Judy’s MGM career.  Filmed in mid-April 1947, it was deleted after the first two previews.  Part of the number’s legendary status is due to the fact that no footage has survived, so everyone has their own imaginations to think of what the number might have looked like.  The other part of the legend is due to the stories that have been told surrounding the number’s troubled filming.

There are a couple of stories that may or may not be true that were first published in the 1970s and 80s in books about Judy and MGM.  In the most lurid and well known legend, Judy was allegedly so distraught due to her addiction to medications that she had a complete meltdown in the middle of a take with everyone looking on.  In their book “The MGM Girls – Behind the Velvet Curtain” (published in 1983 by St. Martin’s Press) co-authors Peter Harry Brown & Pamela Ann Brown gave this very colorful account:

     Judy Garland clung to her stand-in and shivered in the darkness.  All around her, unseen, were the hundreds of dancers, singers, and stars (including Gene Kelly and Walter Slezak) who were supporting her in a lavish new musical, The Pirate.  five times they had started the music, and five times they had waited in vain for Judy to burst on the scene in her $125,000 dress and sing a frenetic production number called “Voodoo.”
     For the scene the sound stage (the size of two football fields) had been blacked out, its doors sealed with tape and guarded by a phalanx of studio police.  A roaring fire had been lighted, and dozens of native drummers were stationed in a semicircle, where they pounded out an authentic voodoo call – a call to the spirits of evil, the spirits of the dead.
     Judy, bone thin and tight as a crossbow, had spent four hours in Makeup and another being sewn into her billowing dress.  Her husband, Vincent [sic] Minnelli, was directing with love and care, fitting his schedule carefully around his drug-crazed wife and her bouts with paranoia.  Realizing his role was as a father figure as well as a husband, he had coaxed and coddled Judy, painfully drawing out her performance minute-by-minute.  By now the pressure was on.  It was costing $20,000 an hour to keep the “Voodoo” cast assembled and waiting for the singing star to appear.  So he did what was necessary.  “Let’s move it, Judy,” he said.  “We’ve got four hours to get this number on film – and four hours only.
     She looked up at him through a drug haze and nodded.  “Bastard,” she said through clenched teeth.  “He’s as bad as the others.”
     Judy had already recorded “Voodoo” almost a week before, producing a strident, hysterical vocal track that was almost painful to hear.  But it was “Voodoo,” after all, and therefore not completely out of character.
     So for the sixth time Minnelli signaled for the playback.  The towering fire was stoked and a two-story door opened to the darkness of a midnight sky for ventilation.
     This time Judy leaped into camera range, reproducing the movement of a Haitian rite with chilling accuracy.  Then she moved within two feed of the fire.  She stared into the flames, and her eyes opened wide with terror.  “I’m going to burn to death.  They want to ill me,” she shrieked.  “They want me to burn to death.  It’s a trick.  Don’t you see?  It’s a trick.  They want me to burn to death.”  Tears ran down her face, streaking the makeup that had been so carefully painted on.  She ripped her dress, tore off her earrings, and began running from one extra to the other.
     Her voice came out in a croak.  “Do you have any Benzedrine?  You Must Have.  Give it to me, please.  Give it to me.  They won’t let me have any.”  She repeated the pitiful plea over and over again, alternately sobbing, laughing, crying, and, finally veering completely out of control.  She was led off the set.  The production number was junked.

The Browns don’t don’t give a source in their bibliography for this particular story.  The story about the incident was first published (legitimately) in author Hugh Fordin’s book about MGM’s Freed Unit titled “The World of Entertainment! Hollywood’s Greatest Musicals” published by Doubleday in 1975.  Fordin’s version is the obvious source for the Brown’s version, although it’s not quite as colorful:

     It was a night scene and she was to do the number around an open fire.  On the stage floor the fires were lit, the ceiling-high doors were open and Minnelli and the company were waiting.  Suddenly Judy tore onto the stage, her face emaciated, her eyes wide.  Seeing the open fires she broke into hysterics, screaming:  “I’m going to burn to death!  They want me to burn to death!”  In fain Minnelli tried to calm her.  She pulled away and ran to a group of extras, pleading: “Do you have some Benzedrine?”  Addressing each one individually, she kept repeating it.  Sobbing, laughing, crying, completely out of control, she was led off the set.  For everybody, but especially for the man crew members who had known and loved Judy since her adolescent years, it was a pathetic scene.  This was the first public manifestation of Judy’s rapidly deteriorating condition.  But she was able to bring herself out of momentary breakdown and resume shooting the next day.

Fordin’s account was published the same year as the first extensive, serious biography about Judy Garland was published, the best-selling “Judy” written by Gerold Frank and published by Harper and Row.  Frank doesn’t mention the incident at all, nor does Christopher Finch in his equally lauded Garland biography “Rainbow – The Stormy Life of Judy Garland” also published in 1975, by Grosset & Dunlap.

In his Garland biography “Get Happy” (published in 2000 by Random House), author Gerald Clarke relayed the same story, only his account is very abridged compared to the Brown’s account:

     Other times amphetamines had the reverse effect, making her [Judy] tense and occasionally even paranoid.  Called upon to dance around open fires in one scene, Judy jumped across the stage in terror.  “I’m going to burn to death!” she shouted.  “They want me to burn to death!”  Finally she was led away – crying, laughing, altogether hysterical.   

The assistant director on The Pirate, Wally Worsley, doesn’t mention the incident in his daily production reports.  Considering how detailed the daily reports were, it’s odd Worsley wouldn’t mention it.  However, in their very detailed and exhaustive book about the film titled “The Cinematic Voyage of The Pirate – Kelly, Garland, and Minnelli at Work” (published in 2014 by the University of Missouri Press) authors Earl J. Hess and Pratibha A. Dabholkar note that Worsley’s omission could be a result of his “being uncomfortable witnessing Garland’s extreme anxiety and chose not to report what had happened.”  Or, as they also note, the story could be an exaggeration of a less dramatic incident.  Judy most likely did have a very public breakdown on the set, but whether she actually ran up to extras begging for drugs or screamed in horror that “they” were trying to burn her to death is anyone’s guess.  There is no actual documentation of the incident and it could simply be studio gossip that grew over the decades before Fordin’s book was first published.  Regardless of the details, the incident is a reflection of Judy’s struggles with addiction, which had become more than just a habit or a crutch.  Sadly, this was the time when true addiction took hold of Judy Garland.

The second legend around the number is about the actual dance.  The number had to be restaged (whether it was before or after Judy’s breakdown is unknown) due to the overt sexuality on display.  One author described it as “humping” and columnist Hedda Hopper reported that it was “a hair curler.”  It was apparently so sexual (especially for an MGM musical in 1947), that when MGM boss Louis B. Mayer’s secretary saw some of the footage, she was so shocked she convinced him to view the rushes.  As author John Fricke relayed in his Garland biography “Judy Garland – World’s Greatest Entertainer” published in 1992 by Henry Holt Publishers:

“Burn the negative!” [Mayer] cried.  “If that exhibition gets on any screen, we’ll be raided by the police!”  He later gave Kelly a lecture on how to behave while dancing, and “Voodoo” was restaged.

Mayer giving Kelly a lecture on how to behave is totally in character for Mayer.  He liked to think of himself as the kindly Papa of everyone who worked at MGM, whether that was truly accurate or not.

Over the years there have been claims by fans that they have seen the footage, or some of it.  There have also been claims that somebody somewhere has a copy.  To date, nothing has surfaced.  It’s likely that the surviving footage was destroyed in the 1965 vault fire at MGM.


  • May 29, 1947:  Filming continued on the “Interior Don Pedro’s Study” set.  Time called: 9:45 a.m; Judy arrived at 10 a.m.; dismissed: 5:55 p.m.
  • May 30, 1947:  Judy was out sick.
  • May 31, 1947:  Filming continued on the “Interior Don Pedro’s Salon” set.  Time called: 9:45 a.m.  The assistant director’s notes state: “4:35 p.m.; Miss Garland was too tired to continue; Company dismissed.”
  • June 3, 1947:  The production moved to the “Exterior Gallows” set.  Time called: 10:15 a.m.; dismissed: 5:50 p.m.
  • June 10, 1947:  Judy’s 25th birthday was spent back on the “Interior Don Pedro’s Salon” set.  Time called: 1:45 p.m.; dismissed: 4:20 p.m.
  • June 11, 1947:  Photo shoot for stills for use in the poster art.  Time called: 1 p.m.; dismissed: 4:55 p.m.
  • June 23, 1947:  Rehearsals for “Be A Clown.”  Time called: 2 p.m.; Judy arrived at 2:30 pm.; dismissed: 5:05 p.m.  Rehearsals continued through June 28th, which is the approximate day that Judy collapsed.  She didn’t return to the production until July 14th.  See the “On this Day” blog entry for July 18 for details, which is the date that Judy’s collapse was reported in the papers. 
  • July 14, 1947:  Judy returned to the production to record “Be A Clown.”  Time called: 1 p.m.; dismissed: 4:50 p.m.
  • July 15, 1947:  The first day of filming the now famous “Be A Clown” number.  Time called: 1 p.m.; Judy arrived at 2:45 p.m.; dismissed: 12:25 a.m. the next morning!
  • July 16, 1947:  Judy and co-star Gene Kelly were due back on the set at 9:45 a.m. to finish filming on “Be A Clown”. Judy arrived at 10:35 a.m.; dismissed: 6:05 p.m.  This was the last day of principal filming which included retakes and pickups for five other scenes; changing wardrobe, hairstyle and makeup at least three times for more than twenty-five takes.
  • October 22, 1947:  Judy was in the middle of filming Easter Parade when on this day she began retakes for The Pirate, on the “Interior Reception Room” set.  Time called: 10 a.m.; dismissed: 6 p.m.  After test screenings in October and November it was decided that the film needed extensive retakes, which included moving “Mack the Black” from the beginning of the film and replacing the “Voodoo” scene with a newer version of “Mack the Black.”
  • October 27, 1947:  More retakes, this time on the “Interior Manuela’s Patio” set.  Time called: 10 a.m.; dismissed: 3:40 p.m.
  • December 1, 1947:  Judy had a call to begin more retakes on The Pirate but was ill and did not work.  Since October, Judy has been in rehearsals, recordings, and filming on Easter Parade.  From now until December 19th she would go back and forth between the two productions.
  • December 2, 1947:  Judy had a rehearsal for the revised version of “Mack the Black.”  Time called: 11 a.m.; Judy arrived at 11:40 a.m.; dismissed: 3:40 p.m.
  • December 11, 1947:  After spending the past week on Easter Parade, Judy was back doing more retakes on The Pirate.  Judy had a call to be on the set at 1:30 p.m.  Per the assistant director’s notes:  “JG reported for recording at 1:30 p.m.  She rehearsed until 3:30 p.m. when she said she felt as if she had temperature.  Mr. Freed, who was on the set, asked to have doctor called.  Dr. Jones was summoned, but found no temp.  However, advised that Miss Garland not work any longer today, and not tomorrow.  Miss Garland was sent home with the understanding that we check with her tomorrow evening for further proceedings.”  Dismissed: 3:45 p.m.
  • December 12, 1947:  Judy was out sick.
  • December 13, 1947:  Judy had no scheduled work for, and was not needed for, both The Pirate and Easter Parade.
  • December 15, 1947:  Recording session for the new version of “Mack the Black.”  Time called: 2 p.m.; dismissed: 4:17 p.m.
  • December 16, 1947:  Rehearsals for “Mack the Black.”  Time called: 10 a.m.; dismissed: 3 p.m.
  • December 17, 1947:  Retakes of “Mack the Black” on the “Interior Show Tent” set.  Time called: 8 a.m.; Judy arrived at 9 a.m.; dismissed: 5:30 p.m.
  • December 18, 1947:  More retakes of “Mack the Black.”  Time called: 7 a.m. for makeup; on set at 9 a.m.; dismissed: 5:20 p.m.
  • December 19, 1947:  The last day of Judy’s work on the film consisted of more retakes, this time on the “Interior Manuela’s Balcony” set.  This is the revised opening scene of the film (minus the originally planned “Mack the Black”).  Judy had a 7 a.m. call to be in makeup; due on the set at 9 a.m.; Judy arrived on the set at 9:53 a.m.; dismissed: 11:45 a.m.  Instead of getting a well-deserved rest, Judy was back with the Easter Parade production the very next day. 

Liza Visits

On May 28, 1947, Judy and Vincente’s daughter Liza Minnelli visited the set.  She made several visits to the set but on this day an MGM staff photographer took quite a few photos that were, naturally, used by the studio to promote the film.

Photoplay September 1948 Issue

Lobby Cards & Posters


  • This was the only film Judy made at MGM that did not turn a profit. The studio reported a loss of $2,290,00, although this included unused screenplay drafts and other work dating all the way back to 1943.
  • The “Be A Clown” song and dance by Gene Kelly and The Nicholas Brothers was shot in one day on July 9, 1947.
  • On August 29, 1947 producer Arthur Freed along with Judy, Vincente Minnelli, Irving Berlin and Cole Porter viewed a rough cut of the film. Porter did not like the film, even though Freed and Berlin sang its praises. Porter is reported as saying “We shall see.” Porter went on to report that he felt The Pirate was “a $5,000,000 Hollywood picture that was unspeakably wretched, the worst that money could buy.”
  • The Pirate was nominated for the Oscar for “Best Scoring of a Musical Picture” (Lennie Hayton).  It lost to the other Garland film of 1948, Easter Parade.

Japanese flyer provided by Hisato Masuyama.


Daily Music Reports

December 27, 1946
“Love Of My Life” 


December 28, 1946
“Mack The Black”

First Deleted Version

First Deleted Version – Tag

Second Deleted Version


February 12, 1947
“Mack The Black” – Temporary Track Ending (Judy with piano)


March 28, 1947

Take 3

Complete edited version


April 10, 1947

Take 1

Take 3 (includes some Garland chatter)

Complete Version


May 13, 1947:
“You Can Do No Wrong”
“Love Of My Life”

You Can Do No Wrong

Love Of My Life


July 14, 1947
“Be A Clown”

Take 11

Cued Playback Disc (provided by Hisato M.)


December 15, 1947:
“Mack The Black” (new version)

Take 4

Take 10

Complete Version

Playback Discs

These playback discs are two different types.  There are the standard 80 rpm MGM playback discs that feature the MGM logo and typed information on the labels.  The other are double sprocket hole (or more) discs which were played on different equipment.  These had blank labels on which the details were handwritten.  It’s unknown if these are more casual “first run” playback discs not meant for filming but more for test purposes or something else.   

Note that the dates are different than the recording dates, reflecting the dates the discs were made.  

All discs from the Hisato Masuyama collection.  Thanks Hisato!


Sparkling New Blu-ray Release!

Release Date:  November 24, 2020

CLICK HERE to order!

NEW 2020 1080p HD Restoration from 4K scan of the original nitrate Technicolor negatives
Run Time: 101:00
Subtitles: English SDH
Audio Specs: DTS HD-Master Audio 2.0 – English
Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1 4×3 FULL FRAME
Product Color: COLOR
Disc Configuration: BD-50

Special Features: Commentary by Author/Historian John Fricke, Making-of featurette “THE PIRATE: A MUSICAL TREASURE CHEST”, Vintage M-G-M short You Can’t Win, Vintage M-G-M cartoon Cat Fishin’, “MACK THE BLACK” musical sequence in HD with stereo audio, Audio-only outtakes, Associate Producer Roger Edens’ guide/rehearsal recordings, Judy Garland and Gene Kelly M-G-M radio promotional interviews, Original Theatrical Trailer (HD).

Before & After Screenshots

The differences between the old standard definition DVD and this newly remastered (finally!!) HD print is like night and day.  It’s as if the film had been stuck in a shadow all they years and the curtains were finally pulled for all to see.  Even if you’re not a fan of the film as you might be with Judy’s other films of this period, it’s still worth having for the amazing color, clarity, and music (which sounds as though it’s been upgraded too).  It’s simply amazing! 

The Pirate was the first Garland film to get a soundtrack album. Technically Till Till The Clouds Roll By was first, but Judy was merely a guest star with just two songs. The Pirate is a Judy Garland film through and through. The soundtrack as released by MGM Records was abridged due to the constraints of the standard albums of the day. It features abridged versions of some numbers, and a markedly different version of “Love of My Life” than that heard in the final film. Although part of the pre-recording of the “Voodoo” outtake appeared on the 1976 “Cut! Outtakes from Hollywood’s Greatest Musicals” LP and an expanded CD released in 1990 by Sony/CBS Special Products, the complete soundtrack with outtakes did not appear until the 2002 Rhino Records CD. All of the surviving Garland pre-recording sessions (material used for the 2002 CD) first appeared on the 1996 laserdisc “Judy Garland – the Golden Years at MGM.”  You can get more details about all soundtrack releases of The Pirate at The Judy Garland Online Discography or by clicking on the album and CD images above and below.

Argentinian single featuring “Love of My Life” and “You Can Do No Wrong.”

Here are three fun items.  A rare paper collector’s bag for record album shoppers to carry their MGM soundtrack albums in.  Also, the now obsolete tall CD box packaging for the MCA Classics edition of the soundtrack and the 1991 Sony Music Special Products CD release.

The Pirate was released on home video in the early years of the formats, first on videodisc then VHS, Laserdisc, DVD, and most recently on Blu-ray (remastered to its original glorious luster).  

The Pirate 1980s VHS

Below, the 1984 Japanese laserdisc edition, provided by Hitaso M.  Thanks, Hitaso!

Judy Garland 1935
The Wizard of Oz green vinyl release for Record Store Day on April 19, 2014