Spanish Main, The (1948): Frank Borzage’s Lavish, Colorful, Oscar-Nominated Adventure, Starring Paul Henreid and Maureen O’Hara

Oscar-winning director Frank Borzage made RKO’s first Technicolor film (over a decade after Becky Sharp), an adventure starring European heartthrob Paul Henreid (Ingrid Bergman’s anti-Nazi fighter-husband in Casablanca) and beautiful colleen Maureen O’Hara.

Henreid plays Dutch sea captain Laurent van Horn, who is shipwrecked off the coast of the Spanish region of Cartagena.  Caught and sentenced to death, Van Horn and his crew escape.

Five years later, Van Horn assumes the identity of the mysterious pirate, known only by the name of his ship: The Barracuda.

Infiltrating a vessel, they capture Contessa Francisca Alvarado (O’Hara) on her way to marry the corrupt governor, played by Walter Slezak, who was typecast as a villain and played pirates in several films (Minnelli’s The Pirate).

To avoid fights, Francisca offers to marry Van Horn if he will spare the escort, and he agrees. Predictably, Francisca and Van Horn fall in love and plan to defeat the villainous governor Don Juan Alvarado and treacherous his treacherous pirates.

The film includes the character of Anne Bonny (played by Binnie), a fictionalized figure of real-life female pirate.

The film was successful domestically and even more so internationally (especially Europe), making a profit of $1. 5 million against a budget of $2 million.

Oscar Context

Ace cinematographer George Barnes received yet another Oscar nomination for his color photography. but he didn’t win.

Hanns Eisler’s lavish score, which is integral to the plot, was singled out by critics but did not get an Oscar nod.