Old Ironsides (film)

Old Ironsides (1926) is a silent film starring Charles Farrell, Esther Ralston, Wallace Beery, and George Bancroft.[1]

Old Ironsides
Film poster
Directed byJames Cruze
Written byDorothy Arzner
Harry Carr
Walter Woods (scenario)
Rupert Hughes (intertitles)
StarringCharles Farrell
Esther Ralston
Wallace Beery
George Bancroft
Music byHugo Riesenfeld
J. S. Zamecnik
CinematographyAlfred Gilks
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • December 6, 1926 (1926-12-06)
Running time
111 minutes
CountryUnited States
English intertitles


Early in the 19th century, USS Constitution is launched as part of an effort to stop piracy in the Mediterranean Sea. Meanwhile, a young man determined to go to sea (Farrell) is befriended by the bos'n (Beery) of the merchant ship Esther, and he joins its crew. When Esther reaches the Mediterranean, she too, along with Constitution, becomes involved in the battle against the pirates.


Gary Cooper was in the film as an extra.[2]

Production background

The movie was directed by James Cruze in a widescreen process that Paramount promoted as "Magnascope".[3]

This lavish oceangoing epic features battle scenes with sailing ships and pirates; Beery would revisit the genre and play Long John Silver in Treasure Island eight years later.

Box office receipts from the premiere at the Rialto Theater went to the USS Constitution restoration fund.


  • The Maine-built ship, Llewellyn J. Morse, was refitted as USS Constitution.
  • A real 1886 ship, S. N. Castle was burned and sunk for the film off of Catalina Island.[4]
  • A closeup of a tattoo on George Bancroft's arm reveals that his character's name is also "G. Bancroft".


The Museum of Modern Art in New York City exhibited a restored 35mm print of the film in December 2008.

On July 19, 1997, a free public showing of the film was offered at the Charlestown Navy Yard, Boston, as a part of "Sail 200" festivities for the ship's bicentennial. A large screen was mounted beside the ship; film organist Dennis James, working from Erno Rapee's's original music, accompanied the showing. During the scene depicting its battle with HMS Guerriere, the ship's own cannon were fired in synch with the film.[5]

See also


  1. "Progressive Silent Film List: Old Ironsides". Silent Era. Retrieved April 6, 2008.
  2. Dickens, Homer (1970). The Films of Gary Cooper. Citadel Press. pp. 22–24. ISBN 0-8065-0279-7.
  3. Coles, David. "Magnified Grandeur, Widescreen 1926-1931". Retrieved August 17, 2012.
  4. Old Ironsides on IMDb
  5. Montgomery, M. R. (July 18, 1997). "Organist set to sail in for 'Ironsides' performance". The Boston Globe.
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