The finest pirate films take us on an adventure on the high seas. Who doesn’t enjoy a good action film about a pirate’s life? The concept of scouring the globe for buried wealth is a fantasy shared by the majority of us, even in our old age! There are several fantastic films to select from when it comes to the best pirate movies of all time. It’s a genre that dates all the way back to the dawn of modern filmmaking, and there have been several high-quality adventures on the high seas caught on film throughout the years. There have also been a few dubious films and a few box office duds.
However, the fascinating world of pirate flicks encompasses more than the famed Jack Sparrow. From 1930s classics to contemporary stories of sea-swept adventure, there is a pirate film for every taste. Continue reading to see 30 of the greatest pirate films ever made – no eye patch or talking parrot required.
30. Captain Pirate (1952)
Our list of best pirate movies starts off with Captain Pirate. In Blackbeard the Pirate, we see Newton’s Pirate Captain in full force, walking on two legs and exhibiting strange mannerisms. There is a term for over-the-top acting: “chewing the scenery.” Newton not only chewed up but also digested and expelled the scenery. Without him, any scenes in Blackbeard will fail and die.
Years have passed since Captain Blood was pardoned by the Crown for his brave actions against the Spanish on the Spanish Main, and he now lives peacefully on his West Indies plantation, practicing medicine and plotting his marriage to Isabella. His tranquil existence is disrupted, however, when Hilary Evans comes and arrests him on a charge of piracy. Someone has been invading the islands under the guise of Captain Blood. Captain Blood must re-sail under the “Jolly Roger” to establish his innocence.
29. Waterworld (1995)
Waterworld is another outlandish selection for a list of the finest pirate movies, but it contains all of the necessary components. Although it is an odd pirate picture, it features lots of sailing, swashbuckling action, and a map leading to an unexpected treasure. Rather than being set during the golden period of the pirate, it is set far into the future, in a world devastated by climate catastrophe.
Polar ice caps have melted, and the world is now completely submerged in water. The survivors cruise the oceans in quest of food and shelter. Numerous societies exist. The Mariner is forced to abandon his normal lonely existence to care for a woman and a small daughter while being chased by the Deacon’s evil powers.
28. A High Wind in Jamaica (1965)
A High Wind in Jamaica is a traditional pirate tale based on Richard Hughes’ novel of the same name. The year is 1870, and in Jamaica, a storm has made landfall. A British couple living on the island with their five children decides that the time has come to take their children to England for a decent education, fearful that they would grow up “uncivilized” if they remain.
Fearful that their children would grow up uncivilized, the parents of children living in Jamaica plan to move them to England. However, pirates hijack the children’s ship during the trip, and the youngsters become trapped on the pirate ship. The youngsters regard it as harmless fun, and one of them, Emily, forms an odd relationship with Chavez, the pirate leader. The superstitious pirates are eager to dump the children at the earliest available port, but a tragedy stops them, and Emily’s relationship with Chavez takes an unexpected turn.
27. The Sea Hawk (1940)
If you’re searching for a fast-paced pirate film with a historical backdrop, go no further than the 1940s The Sea Hawk.
Captain Geoffrey Thorpe (Errol Flynn) is a privateer, one of the numerous Sea-Hawks that patrol the maritime routes on behalf of Queen Elizabeth I (Dame Flora Robson). When he destroys a Spanish galleon carrying Don José Alvarez de Cordoba (Claude Rains) and his niece Doa Maria (Brenda Marshall), the Queen is livid, although they are not at war. Thorpe and his ilk are extremely suspicious of Spain and push the Queen to strengthen the navy. Thorpe travels to Panama with the Queen’s implicit consent to seize his adversaries’ riches, but they are betrayed. He and his comrades are brought before a Spanish court and sentenced to work on the galleys as slaves. He escapes with proof that the Spanish Armada is preparing to sail against England.
26. Swiss Family Robinson (1960)
Swiss Family Robinson revolves around a family who gets shipwrecked on a desolate tropical island on their way to tropical New Guinea. They are compelled to remain on the island due to the ship’s damage and the pirates that wander the islands. They establish a home on the island (centered on a massive treehouse) and spend their time exploring the island and its animals. There is plenty of excitement as the family struggles with survival and pirates, and the brothers must learn to survive on an island with an uncertain future.
25. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954)
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is set in the year 1868, a monstrous creature terrorizes the waters, destroying ships! Three odd friends join a battleship in pursuit of the beast, only to discover the engine of devastation is actually a submersible boat. The trio is apprehended by the Nautilus’s captain, Captain Nemo, and embarks on an adventure and discovery with him as the Nautilus and its passengers explore about 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
24. Treasure Planet (2002)
With his father absent and his mother distraught, Jim Hawkins (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a wayward adolescent seen by the world as a hopeless slacker with no future. Even Jim is unable to recognize the positive aspects of his existence until one tragic night when a dying pirate hands him the map to his dreams – the famous booty of Captain Nathaniel Flint (Peter Cullen).
Jim finds a mentor in the crew’s cook, a cyborg named John Silver, as his voyage into space on a ship filled with unscrupulous people starts (Brian Murray). His faith in this new companion, however, proves to be perilous as they draw closer to Treasure Planet.
23. Cutthroat Island (1995)
Cutthroat Island is centered around Morgan Adams. Morgan Adams’ father leaves her his pirate ship and a portion of a treasure island map – strangely written on his scalp. Considered in need of a Latin scholar to decipher the map, Elizabeth acquires knowledgeable slave William Shaw and embarks on a quest for the remainder of the map. However, Shaw, who clearly has his own agenda, receives the second portion.
He is, however, more manageable than the bearer of the last portion, Morgan’s less-than-loving piratical uncle Dawg.
22. Muppet Treasure Island (1996)
Muppet Treasure Island is a Muppet adaptation of a famous novel. The Muppets fit in perfectly in this film, with Kermit the Frog serving as captain and Gonzo as a crew member. However, Tim Curry’s Long John Silver is the film’s star, and he is plainly enjoying the fun of his life playing a pirate alongside Muppet characters.
After recounting young Jim Hawkins (Kevin Bishop) the story of Flint’s final trip, Billy Bones (Sir Billy Connolly) has a heart attack and dies just as Jim and his pals are ambushed by pirates. The group makes their way into town, where they convince Squire Trelawney (Fozzie Bear) (Frank Oz) to charter out a boat and crew to locate the secret wealth mentioned by Bones before his death. They quickly discover that not everyone on board can be trusted throughout their trip across the oceans.
21. The Black Swan (1942)
This 1942 pirate picture, The Black Swan, received critical acclaim for its breathtaking graphics at a period when many films were still filmed entirely in black-and-white. The Black Swan received an Academy Award for Best Cinematography in Color, which no longer exists. Additionally, The Black Swan is based on a novel of the same name written by none other than Rafael Sabatini, who also authored Captain Blood.
Soon after Sir Henry Morgan is appointed Governor of Jamaica in 1674, he proclaims the end of the pirate period and invites his old captains to abandon their ways and sail to England. Not everyone concurs, and one individual, in particular, Captain Leech, does not. He does, however, accept an offer from English aristocrat Roger Ingram, who gives him sailing knowledge to depose the newly appointed Governor. Jamie Waring, a former pirate, kidnaps Lady Margaret Denby, the previous Governor’s daughter, to foil Ingram’s intentions.
20. Pirates (1986)
Number 20 on our list of best pirate movies of all time is Pirates. Pirates open in 1986 with two men in peril: Captain Red, an English pirate with a fearsome reputation, and Jean-Baptiste, AKA “Frog,” his ship’s young cabin boy, are stranded on a raft in the open ocean with no supplies. They are fortunate to be picked up by the Neptune, a Spanish ship returning to Spain.
Captain Red ably assists Frog, a handsome young French sailor, in commanding a tough pirate ship. Capt. Red is apprehended and put onboard a Spanish galleon one day, but owing to his ingenuity, he incites mutiny among the crew, seizes control of the ship, and kidnaps the niece of the governor of Maracaibo. The concern is, can he maintain this rate?
19. Captain Kidd (1945)
Capt. William Kidd is already a cunning, vicious pirate in this unhistorical story when he dupes the king into appointing him as an escort for a treasure ship from India in 1699. He recruits a crew of pardoned cutthroats – including Orange Povey, whom Kidd had abandoned on a reef to never see him again. Of course, Kidd’s motives are nefarious. However, gunner Adam Mercy is more than meets the eye.
18. The Buccaneer (1958)
If you enjoy historical fiction and combat films, The Buccaneer is a must-see pirate picture. The Buccaneer is set during the War of 1812 and follows privateer Jean Lafitte during his participation in the Battle of New Orleans.
The British have sacked Washington and are attempting to take New Orleans, where pirate Jean Lafitte romances blueblooded Annette de Remy and publicly sells his booty in a pirates’ market during the War of 1812. However, he has never attacked an American ship. Is it possible for the British to bribe Lafitte to assist them? Is Lafitte capable of convincing American authorities of his allegiance? Will a love triangle between Annette and beautiful Dutch girl Gretchen (a survivor of a pirates’ reward) spell the end for Lafitte?
17. Captain Blood (1935)
Captain Blood released in 1935 revolves around Dr. Peter Blood being exiled to the West Indies and sold into slavery after being arrested during the Monmouth Rebellion and wrongly convicted of treason. Arabella Bishop, the Governor’s daughter in Port Royal, Jamaica, purchases him for £10 to annoy her uncle, Col. Bishop, who owns a large plantation.
Life is difficult for guys, and Blood is no exception. By coincidence, he cures the Governor’s gout and soon becomes a member of the medical staff. He yearns for liberty, and when the chance presents itself, he and his companion revolt, seizing control of a Spanish ship attacking the city.
They quickly become the sea’s most dreaded pirates, men without a country assaulting all ships. When Blood chooses to return Arabella to Port Royal, he discovers that it is under the authority of England’s new adversary, France. They must decide whether or not to fight for their new King.
16. Treasure Island (1990)
Treasure Island, a popular story by Robert Louis Stevenson, has been adapted for the cinema numerous times. However, Disney’s 1950 version, which was the studio’s first entirely live-action picture, stands out. It’s a timeless family film that will delight both children and adults.
While helping his mother manage the Benbow Inn, young Jim Hawkins encounters Captain Billy Bones, who dies in the inn during a siege by buccaneers commanded by Blind Pew. Jim and his mother repel the invaders and uncover Billy Bones’ treasure map, the reason for the buccaneers’ visit. Jim agrees to travel on the Hispaniola with Squire Trelawney and Dr. Livesey in search of a legendary island’s riches.
Long John Silver, the ship’s chef, and scalawag, leads a mutiny of crewmen who desire wealth for themselves upon arrival on the island. Jim assists the Squire and Hispaniola officers in surviving the mutiny and reclaiming the Hispaniola from Silver’s troops.
15. Blackbeard’s Ghost (1968)
Blackbeard’s Ghost is another 1968 Disney pirate adventure. This film chronicles the strange meeting of a track coach with the spirit of the famed pirate Blackbeard.
Sir Peter Ustinov stars as the renowned pirate’s spirit who comes to our day in this comedy. Blackbeard has been cursed to never die by his previous wife, a renowned witch. The only way to “break” the curse is for him to perform a nice deed (at least once in his life). Is the infamous pirate capable of good deeds?
14. Hook (1991)
Up next on number 14 we have Hook released in 1991. Hook is filmmaker Steven Spielberg’s reimagining of the traditional Peter Pan narrative. You may recall that Peter Pan never desired to grow up — but what if he was forced to leave Neverland and enter a normal, adult life? That is precisely what Hook investigates, with daring and unexpectedly emotional results.
The unthinkable has occurred: Peter Pan (Robin Williams) has grown up and lost his identity. He has devolved into a self-centered workaholic who mainly disregards his children. Now, Peter’s old enemy, Captain James Hook (Dustin Hoffman), has stolen his children to lure him back to Neverland for one more battle. It is now up to his dependable fairy companion Tinkerbell (Julia Roberts) and the Lost Boys to spark his memory and remind him of his true identity.
13. The Pirates: Band Of Misfits (2012)
The Pirates: Band of Misfits is a stop-motion animated film released in 2012 about a gang of pirate scoundrels. Hugh Jackman, Salma Hayek, Brendan Gleeson, and Martin Freeman all lend their voices to this film.
Always outmatched by formidable adversaries like Cutlass Liz, Peg Leg Hastings, and Black Bellamy, the forlorn Pirate Captain believes it’s past time he earned the coveted 1837 “Pirate of the Year Award.” This is easier said than done, as the determined captain and his motley crew of misfits go on a perilous mission that involves Queen Victoria herself, an incredibly rare dodo bird, and a brilliant young scientist called Charles Darwin. Will Pirate Captain be able to surprise everyone with a victory?
12. Captain Phillips (2013)
Captain Phillips is not your usual pirate picture set during the golden age of sail – in fact, the film is based on contemporary events. This historical thriller chronicles the 2009 kidnapping of Maersk Alabama in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Somalia. Four pirates boarded and captured the ship, finally imprisoning Captain Richard Phillips.
Captain Phillips is a multi-layered study of the 2009 hijacking of the Maersk Alabama by a Somali pirate gang. It is both a pulse-pounding thriller and a nuanced portrayal of the various repercussions of globalization, as seen through filmmaker Paul Greengrass’s singular vision.
The film centers on the connection between Commander Richard Phillips, Alabama’s commanding officer, and Muse (Barkhad Abdi), the Somali pirate captain who kidnaps him. Phillips and Muse are on a collision path when Muse and his crew attack Phillips’ unarmed ship; during the subsequent standoff, 145 miles off the Somali coast, both men will find themselves at the mercy of forces beyond their control.
11. The Crimson Pirate (1952)
The 1950s witnessed a surge in the popularity of pirate films. While they lacked the sophisticated special effects and computer-generated imagery available to current directors, adventure films like The Crimson Pirate nevertheless give the audience exhilarating escapism, smart action sequences, and lovable scallywags.
After seizing command of a British warship, Captain Vallo, the Crimson Pirate, recognizes a chance for profit. Baron Jose Gruda is aboard the British ship. He has been dispatched to the Caribbean to put an end to an independence movement led by someone dubbed El Libre. Vallo intends to sell the ship’s supply of weapons and powder to El Libre and then double his money by informing Gruda of the rebel’s identity and whereabouts. After Vallo meets the lovely Consuelo, who happens to be El Libre’s daughter, things do not go as planned. Vallo had a change of heart and joins the rebels.
10. The Goonies (1985)
There are numerous pirate moments in The Goonies, including a treasure room on a ship owned by a character named One-Eyed Willy. Critics adored this family excursion, which is now regarded as an 80s classic. It’s difficult to see this film without being drawn into the experience.
Regrettably, the whole hamlet of Goon Docks in Oregon faces impending foreclosure to make way for a new golf course. However, when a group of local childhood friends dubbed the “Goonies” stumble across an ancient treasure map packed with hints and clues leading to the legendary wealth of renowned pirate “One-Eyed” Willy, an opportunity to rescue their houses presents itself. Now that the nefarious Fratelli family is on their tail, a frenetic race against time starts, leading the Goonies to an underground labyrinth of ingeniously hazardous booby traps built by Willy to safeguard his riches. Can the fearless Goonies demonstrate their tenacity? Most importantly, is the treasure genuine?
9. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is set In London, Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) escapes from the soldiers that are chasing him and learn that an impostor is recruiting a crew and a vessel using his name. He meets the impersonator and finds that she actually is Angelica (Penélope Cruz), a woman that he had seduced in a convent in Seville. Jack is abducted and when he awakens aboard, the ship is sailing, Angelica tells him that her father, the pirate Blackbeard (Ian McShane), is cursed and he needs to find the legendary Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth to save his life.
They force Jack, who knows the location of the fountain, to guide them. Meanwhile, Captain Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) is hired by King George (Richard Griffiths) to lead the British crew and dispute against the Spaniards, and Blackbeard, who arrives first at the fountain. But along their dangerous quest, they need to first find two chalices that belonged to Ponce de Leon and a tear of a mermaid.
8. Peter Pan (2003)
When most people think of Peter Pan films, they immediately think of the Disney animated original and Hook. However, many have ignored this 2003 adaptation of the famous novel, even though reviewers believe it to be one of the better ones since it is a faithful adaptation that still manages to be a fantastic fantasy narrative.
Wendy Darling mesmerizes her brothers every night in sweltering Edwardian London with bedtime tales of swordplay, swashbuckling, and the frightening Captain Hook. However, when Peter Pan flies into their nursery one night and leads them over moonlight roofs, past a galaxy of stars, and into the lush forests of Neverland, the children become the protagonists of an even bigger narrative. Wendy and her brothers join Peter and the Lost Boys in an exhilarating life devoid of adult rules, while also confronting Hook and his bloodthirsty pirates.
7. Peter Pan (1953)
Peter Pan is a Disney animated classic that makes viewers hope they could be children indefinitely. While there are certain scenes in Peter Pan that have aged horribly, there is still much to enjoy. Throughout, the animation is vibrant, bright, and gorgeous. Additionally, Peter Pan features great tunes that will inspire you to fly to the second star to the right.
A retelling of J. M. Barrie’s tale about a kid who never matured. The Darling family’s three children are visited by Peter Pan, who whisks them away to Never Land, where a conflict between Peter’s ragtag band of runaways and the wicked Pirate Captain Hook is raging.
6. The Pirates Of Penzance (1983)
From 1983, The Pirates of Penzance is a romantic musical comedy. The picture, which is based on the Broadway play, looks to have been plucked directly from the stage. as the settings are prominent and the musical ambiance pervades each frame of this film. While it has several hilarious pirate scenes, the musical pieces are also creative, catchy, and fit the pirate environment.
Fredric (Rex Smith) was supposed to be a pilot’s apprentice, but his maid accidentally makes him a pirate’s apprentice. He is prepared to go from the Penzance Pirates. When his maid begs him to take her with him, he agrees, but shortly thereafter, he meets and falls madly in love with the daughters of Major General Stanley (George Rose), and thus rejects his maid Ruth (Dame Angela Lansbury).
Mabel Stanley (Linda Ronstadt) chooses to love him after they refuse to adore him since he was a pirate, the fairest of them all. However, something happens in the story that traps him and his sense of duty as a pirate.
5. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017)
In Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Johnny Depp’s (Captain Jack Sparrow’s) luck has run out. Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem) has liberated the Devil’s Triangle’s most lethal ghost pirates. Captain Salazar is Jack Sparrow’s eldest adversary. The ghost pirates are on the prowl for every pirate on the high seas, including Jack Sparrow.
The fabled Trident of Poseidon is the only way to survive this journey. This is the most powerful weapon available, and the possessor has complete control over the oceans. Is Jack going to obtain this lethal weapon and can he keep himself safe from Captain Salazar and his pirate ghosts?
4. The Princess Bride (1987)
The Princess Bride is a classic film that is replete with unforgettable scenes and lines that are still quoted today. The characters, from Buttercup and Westley to Fezzik and Inigo Montoya, are as unforgettable. The Princess Bride, directed by Rob Reiner, is a delightful picture that combines action, humor, and romance.
When the gorgeous Buttercup is abducted by a heinous gang bent on fomenting an international crisis, they discover themselves followed by the Dread Pirate Roberts, who just could be Westley, her one true love. Additionally, there is the odious Prince Humperdinck, to whom Buttercup is now engaged but who appears to be unconcerned about her continuing life. The stage is prepared for swordfights, demons, and torments – but will Grandpa be permitted to complete the narrative with all these kissy bits?
3. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007)
In Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, after rescuing Captain Jack Sparrow from the world of the dead, Elizabeth, Will, and Captain Barbossa must confront their adversaries, Davy Jones, and Lord Cutler Beckett. Beckett, now that he has gained possession of Jones’ heart, makes a sinister alliance with him to dominate the seas and eliminate the last Pirates. Now, Jack, Barbossa, Will, Elizabeth, Tia Dalma, and the rest of the crew must summon the Pirate Lords from every part of the globe, including the notorious Sao Feng.
The Pirate Lords wish to free the goddess Calypso, Davy Jones’s doomed lover, from the trap they placed her into out of fear, in which the Pirate Lords must assemble the nine parts binding her by ritual to unravel it and free her in the hope that she will assist them in their struggle. This will unite all pirates in a final struggle for liberty against Beckett, Jones, Norrington, the Flying Dutchman, and the entire East India Trading Company.
2. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
We’re thrust back into the realm of sword battles and “shrewd” pirates. Commander Jack Sparrow is reminded of his obligation to Davy Jones, the captain of the Flying Dutchman, a phantom ship crewed by demons. Confronted with the “locker,” Jack must locate Davy Jones’ heart, but to do so, he must enlist the assistance of quick-witted Will Turner and Elizabeth Swan. As if everything weren’t complex enough, Will and Elizabeth are sentenced to death by hanging unless Will obtains Lord Cutler Beckett Jack’s compass. Will is compelled to accompany Jack on another wild escapade.
1. Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl (2003)
The first place on our list of best pirate movies of all time goes to Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl. While Pirates of the Caribbean is not the highest-rated picture, it is the most adored. Pirates of the Caribbean is an immensely fun ride based on the renowned attraction at Disney Parks worldwide. It has a spectacular swordfight, an intriguing tale with original mythology, and a universe enchanted by the film’s swashbuckling mood.
William Turner, a resourceful young blacksmith, teams up with the eccentric pirate “Captain” Jack Sparrow to rescue his love, the Governor’s daughter Elizabeth Swann, who has been mistakenly captured by the cunning and treacherous Barbossa, a former ally of Jack, to perform a blood sacrifice to end the curse cast on him and his crew.
Will and Jack hijack a Royal Navy ship and make their way to Tortuga, a pirate harbor. There, Jack meets Joshamee Gibbs and sets sail with a buccaneer and an “able-bodied” crew to rescue Elizabeth and reclaim the Black Pearl. Meanwhile, Barbossa finds that the sacrifice did not require Elizabeth’s blood but rather another’s. Whose blood is it, anyway?