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Pirates of Penzance

Pirates of Penzance

3.1 21

Cast: Wilford Leach, Tony Azito, Kevin Kline, Linda Ronstadt


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Linda Ronstadt and Kevin Kline starred in this acclaimed production of Gilbert & Sullivan's high-spirited operetta, which comes to DVD (from a 1980 taping for public television) in a no-frills edition. The Pirates of Penzance has been transferred to disc in its original full-frame aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and the audio has been mastered in Dolby Digital Stereo.


Linda Ronstadt and Kevin Kline starred in this acclaimed production of Gilbert & Sullivan's high-spirited operetta, which comes to DVD (from a 1980 taping for public television) in a no-frills edition. The Pirates of Penzance has been transferred to disc in its original full-frame aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and the audio has been mastered in Dolby Digital Stereo. The performance is in English, with no multiple language options or bonus materials included, though the DVD has been given 34 chapter stops, allowing viewers to cue up favorite selections with ease.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble
Gilbert and Sullivan's raucous operatic tale is captured in all it's fun and glory in this production, recorded live at Central Park's Delacorte Theater. Kevin Kline (Big Chill, A Fish Called Wanda)sparkles as the swashbuckling and libidinous Pirate King while Linda Ronstadt makes her theatrical debut as the lovely and virginal Mabel. When Mabel and Frederic (Rex Smith) -- a young pirate bound to serve the Pirate King -- fall in love, complications arise and high-spirited antics ensue. The incomparable cast offers the best in this boisterous romp. Also starring Patricia Routledge (Keeping Up Appearances) and George Rose as "the very model of a modern major-general."
All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
This film version of the rollicking Joseph Papp stage production of The Pirates of Penzance doesn't quite capture the exuberant silliness the show had in the theatre, but it's still quite a lot of fun and definitely a good way to introduce those with a reluctance to operetta (comic or otherwise) to Gilbert & Sullivan. The buffoonery and campiness that seemed so effortless onstage comes across as a bit artificial and forced on film, and one wishes that director Wilford Leach had a more natural affinity for the camera than he displays here; but even with these shortcomings, there's a joyousness to Pirates that is hard to resist. The score, of course, is a sheer delight, with Arthur Sullivan's entirely engaging melodies well matched with W.S. Gilbert's witty and captivating lyrics. The story is delightful fluff, spoofy yet with just enough substance to keep the viewer interested in what happens to the silly characters involved in the various plot machinations. Kevin Kline is a divinely amusing Pirate King, superbly athletic yet winningly comic. George Rose was born to play the Major-General, and Angela Lansbury is a true treat as Ruth. Also surprisingly good are Linda Ronstadt and Rex Smith; if their voices are not quite what one might wish for these roles, they still handle the songs well enough and are much better performers than one would expect.
All Movie Guide
Joseph Papp's notion of staging one of Gilbert and Sullivan's best-loved operettas with two pop singers (Linda Ronstadt and Rex Smith) in the leads paid off as a surprise Broadway smash in the early 1980s, and this film faithfully reproduces Papp's production, featuring most of the original cast and the original director. Frederic (Smith) has been taught since childhood to be a sea-going bandit by the Pirate King (Kevin Kline), but with his 21st birthday imminent, Frederic wants to leave pirating behind, especially after he becomes infatuated with innocent Mabel (Ronstadt). But the Pirate King informs Frederic that since he was born on the last day of February on a Leap Year, his 21st birthday won't roll around for some time yet, and he still owes the King some raiding on the high seas. To Frederic's embarrassment, the Pirate King's next target turns out to be Major General Stanley (George Rose), Mabel's father! The Pirates of Penzance also features Angela Lansbury as Ruth (the sole major casting change from the Broadway production -- Estelle Parsons played the role on stage). Mark Deming

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Kultur Video

Special Features

Chaptering; Indexing

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Tony Azito Actor
Kevin Kline Actor
Linda Ronstadt Actor
George Rose Actor
Patricia Routledge Actor
Rex Smith Actor
Angela Lansbury Actor
Peter Allen Actor
Tim Bentinck Pirate
John Bett Actor
Peppi Borza Policeman
Romolo Bruni Captain
Teresa Codling Kate
Zulema Dene Actor
Louise Gold Edith
Mike Grady Pirate
David Hatton Samuel
Paul "H.R." Hudson Actor
Maurice Lane Policeman
Preston Lockwood Conductor
Carol Macready Actor
Clare McIntyre Daughter
Keith Mitchell Actor
G.B. "Zoot" Money Pirate
Linda Spurrier Actor
Tilly Vosburgh Daughter
Nancy Wood Other Daughter
William Elliott Conductor

Technical Credits
Wilford Leach Director,Screenwriter
Ernest Archer Art Director
Alan Cassie Art Director,Production Designer
Barry Langley Asst. Director
Graciela Daniele Choreography
Douglas Slocombe Cinematographer
Timothy Burrill Co-producer,Producer
Tom Rand Costumes/Costume Designer
Anne V. Coates Editor
Edward R. Pressman Executive Producer
William Elliott Musical Arrangement,Score Composer
William Elliott Musical Direction/Supervision
Joseph Papp Producer
Elliot Scott Production Designer
Gilbert & Sullivan Score Composer
Arthur Sullivan Score Composer
Peter Howitt Set Decoration/Design
William Schwenk Gilbert Songwriter
David Hildyard Sound/Sound Designer

Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Opening Credits [:45]
2. Beginning [1:10]
3. Pour, Oh Pour, The Pirate Sherry [2:12]
4. When Fred'ric Was a Little Lad [7:22]
5. Oh, Better Far to Live and Die [6:16]
6. Oh! False One You Have Deceiv'd Me! [3:49]
7. Climbing Over Rocky Mountain [5:11]
8. Stop, Ladies, Pray! [1:32]
9. Oh, Is There Not One Maiden Breast [4:32]
10. Poor Wand'ring One! [5:04]
11. What Ought We to Do? [:47]
12. How Beautifully Blue the Sky [2:14]
13. Stay, We Must Not Lose Our Senses [1:25]
14. Hold, Monsters [:50]
15. I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General [7:36]
16. Oh, Men of Dark and Dismal Fate [9:05]
17. Oh, Dry the Glist'ning Tear [6:04]
18. Then Frederic, Let Your Escort Lion-Hearted [:19]
19. When the Foeman Bares His Steel [5:03]
20. Now for the Pirates' Lair! [1:26]
21. When You Had Left Our Pirate Fold [5:43]
22. My Eyes Are Fully Open [4:34]
23. Away, Away! My Heart's On Fire! [1:32]
24. All Is Prepar'd, Your Gallant Crew Await You! [1:27]
25. Stay Fred'ric, Stay! [5:45]
26. Sorry Her Lot [2:12]
27. No, I'll Be Brave! [3:10]
28. When a Felon's Not Engaged in His Employment [2:27]
29. A Rollicking Band of Pirates We [1:16]
30. With Cat-Like Tread [3:32]
31. Hush, Hush, Not a Word [1:40]
32. Sighing Softly to the River [12:42]
33. Curtain Call [:48]
34. Closing Credits [2:29]

Customer Reviews

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Pirates of Penzance 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this perfomance of Gilbert and Sullivan's classic operetta! Although I enjoyed the movie version as well (with Angela Lansbury), I found this one to be more intimate -very much like live theater! Yes, the recording was a bit rough at times, but still worth seeing if you're a big theater buff. Rex Smith was outstanding! It's always a pleasure to listen to him sing! In fact, I'm looking foward to seeing him this weekend(as the "Pirate King") at a performance in Springfield!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a filmed version of the stage musical and was filmed at night at the Delacourte Theater which is an outside open air theater! It is not the theatrical movie adaptation! I repeat it is NOT the theatrical movie adaptation! I love to watch plays and musicals and I loved watching this. Yes the camera work wasn't perfect but the production is so much fun that I really don't care! Kevin Kline makes a very sexy Pirate King and gives a great performance and Rex Smith gives a great performance too and is a good looking Fredrick. The rest of the cast is very good too, especially Linda Rondstadt as Mabel, Patricia Rutledge as Ruth and the guy who played The Major General! I would only recommend this DVD to people who like Broadway and off-Broadway stage productions and like seeing filmed productions of them! People who hate stage productions and only like the theatrical movie version will hate this and be bored! I personally found this to be a fun version to watch! Very entertaining!
BonnieKAZ More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful movie! Great singing and dancing to a classic. Our entire family feel that this is one of our all time favorites!!! All of our daughters loved it; our grown grandchildren love it; our pre-teen grandchildren love it too. Very tongue in cheek rendition of a marvelous old classic. One of our daughters and her husband saw a stage play of it and said it was not anywhere near as good as the one with Kevin Kline, Linda Rondstadt and Angela Lansbury. Another daughter got another DVD version, turned out to be a stage play. Thumbs down. This one is Delightful entertainment, witty ... just the thing to lift one's spirits and make you smile.
Guest More than 1 year ago
While the quality of the production is not great (it is filmed from a live stage production) it sticks to the original operetta of Gilbert & Sullivan including many musical numbers not in the Angela Lansbury version. I love the Angela Lansbury version, but Patricia Routledge (AKA Mrs. Bucket of Keeping Up Appearances) has a marvelous singing voice and adds a dimension to Ruth that was very entertaining.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Great Cast. but the dvd is misrepresented as having Angela Lansbury in the cast and she isn't in it. Patricia Routledge is on this, the stage version of ''Pirates of Penzance''. What I wanted was the movie version (on VHS) with Angela Lansbury in the cast. The stage version, while interesting and entertaining is of poor video and sound quality. Historically, it is a keeper. But B&N is misrepresenting the DVD version. I want the VHS movie version on DVD.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As noted in other reviews, this is not simply a DVD format of the movie available on VHS. This is a mediocre quality video of a stage performance (taped in 1980). Angela Lansbury is not in this cast. It is misleading that this DVD is presented as a link under alternative formats to the actual film available in VHS format.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The five star rating which I gave above is for the VHS film version which includes Angela Lansbury. Like the other commentators on this site, I am also trying to obtain a DVD of the VHS film version. I also wish to obtain a CD of the soundtrack of the VHS film version. Apart from my great enjoyment of the entire film, my motivation is to obtain a copy of the track titled 'Poor Wandering One' sung by Linda Ronstadt. It is absolutely GLORIOUS! It is also my opinion that the acting, music and singing throughout this film is superb. How could anyone NOT enjoy Gilbert and Sullivan?
Guest More than 1 year ago
I lost my vhs 1983 movie version, so bought the 1980 broadway version. Very disappointed in the quality, sound, staging. I want the movie version in DVD. Now. I rate the 1983 movie 5 stars.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I should have read the reviews regarding the DVD. Barnes and Noble has miss represented this DVD as being the move version with Angela Lansbury. It is a poor reproduction of the stage version with very bad sound and film quality.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This looks like it was videotaped by a 3rd grader at a school performance. The cast is great, the filming dismal. It's a waste of money very frustrating to watch.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was enchanted by this little gem -- it captures so many nuances of exciting live production that are missing from slickly produced films, wherein scenes are reshot to absolute perfection. A fabulous recording to show high school or even college drama students in order to demonstrate various aspects of creating a stage show -- business, movement, stifling giggles, pacing, waiting for audience reaction, etc. The performances are uniformly superb, especially those given by the men -- Kevin Kline in particular is simply amazing. This stage production was a result of finely honed craft on the part of all its creators, and this archive recording, although flawed by today's standards (if you are looking for a perfectly teched film, look elsewhere, as this one is severely limited by the technology of the day), is a piece of stage history that I'm glad to see released to the public. The only thing I dislike about it is that it makes me wish I were born earlier so that I could have seen the production live.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As an old recording of a live, outdoor, nighttime performance, this DVD has significant technical failings. There are, however, some great performances here. As with the movie version, some unfortunate liberties are taken with the musical style. Unlike many G&S performances, however, the text seems to be essentially intact.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is not the film version, but a recording of a live performance by the cast that later did the film. Quality of recording is good, but it has not been remastered or anything like that. It is the raw play. The acting is fabulous. I am a big fan of the original movie and was a bit skeptical at first, but you can tell that the actors really feel the audience and I would recommend to all the true Pirate Kings out there.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved the 1983 movie with Kevin Klein. However, when I got this DVD I was furious to discover that this was not what I'd expected at all. Bad sound, bad visuals, no Angela Landsbury...basically I'd thrown my money away. It was like watching a high school play taped by someone's mother. Bleah. I turned it off after less than 5 minutes. It's dreadful. Buy the VHS of the movie or lobby to have the 1983 version recorded to DVD, but stay far away from this 1980 stage version.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Easily my favorite operetta. Awesome performances by Kline, Rondstadt, and Smith. Too much fun not to enjoy.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Very disappointed in this version. I grew up watching the movie version with Angela Lansbury, and I really wanted to see it again. When I turned this one on, I couldn't even watch 5 minutes of it! Poor production, not at all what I wanted to see!
Guest More than 1 year ago
It's entirely possible the performance recorded was excellent. However, the video quality is horrible. Apparently whoever filmed this could not manage to compensate the bright lighting required for a live perfornace as the video is far too bright, looking badly washed out as a result. My wife is hardly what you would call a video phile, but she could barely make it through the first 20 minutes of this DVD. The video looks as if the DVD were made directly from the original video tape release with no attempts to enhance or improve the picture. Honestly, I have seen better video quality from the small city little theater my niece worked for. If the prospect of the poor video quality doesn't bother you, I'm sure you'll enjoy the presentation. Otherwise, steer clear.