Pirates of Tortuga

Pirates of Tortuga is a 1961 DeLuxe Color American swashbuckler film which invented an alternate history for the actual Welsh privateer Henry Morgan. It was released in October 1961 in the United States in CinemaScope.[2]

Pirates of Tortuga
Directed byRobert D. Webb
Produced bySam Katzman
Written byJesse Lasky Jr.(as Jesse L. Lasky Jr.)
Pat Silver
Melvin Levy (and story)
StarringKen Scott
Letícia Román
Dave King
John Richardson
Music byPaul Sawtell
Bert Shefter
CinematographyEllis W. Carter
Edited byHugh S. Fowler
Clover Productions
Distributed byTwentieth Century Fox Film Corporation (USA)
Release date
October 1961 (USA)
Running time
97 min.
CountryUnited States


A Welsh captain (Ken Scott) and his crew are dispatched to the Spanish-controlled island of Tortuga, where famed privateer Henry Morgan (Robert Stephens) has defected from his support of the English empire and is running a strictly piratical venture, stopping any and all vessels, including British carriers. Since the captain cannot attack the island without incurring the wrath of the Spanish government, he must go one-on-one with Morgan himself.

A comely female (Leticia Roman) inadvertently stows away on the captain's vessel and becomes the de facto central focus of the story (Morgan doesn't appear until the latter half of the film). She is initially deposited on the nearby island of Jamaica, where she makes a halfhearted play for the colonial governor, but eventually readjusts her sights on the captain himself. In the meantime, the captain fully engages in pursuing the pirate Morgan.


Production values

Twentieth Century Fox produced a run-of-the-mill B-movie pirate adventure using actors little-known in the United States (the female lead was an Italian starlet whose English accent hovered between Cockney and Sicilian, and whose screen presence was compared to a sexy turnip), and inserting footage from other more notable seafaring-adventure films. The storyline was fictional; thus, using a real historical figure (Morgan) and endowing him with imaginary traits and actions left viewers feeling disoriented. The movie was not presented as a first-run release and soon began appearing on late-night television reruns.

Rafter Johnson had just been put under contract with Fox.[3]

It was the first lead for Ken Scott who had been under contract to Fox for five years.[4]


  1. Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p253
  2. PIRATES OF TORTUGA Monthly Film Bulletin; London Vol. 29, Iss. 336, (Jan 1, 1962): 24.
  3. VOTE JOHNSON BEST FOR 1960: Rafer Thrilled by Olympic Victory Johnson Is World's Top '60 Athlete Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963); Chicago, Ill. [Chicago, Ill]28 Jan 1961: 1.
  4. Heavies Hang Heavy, So He Turns Hero Hopper, Hedda. Los Angeles Times 2 Apr 1961: m9.
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