Old Ironsides


Drama / History

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 100% · 6 reviews
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Spilled 60%
IMDb Rating 6.9/10 10 287 287

Plot summary

An embellished account of the 1813 expedition by famed frigate U.S.S. Constitution--a.k.a. "Old Ironsides"--against the Barbary pirates then terrorizing American shipping, focusing on the crew and passengers of a fictional merchant ship, The Esther, who fall afoul of the same pirates and thus become involved with the Constitution's mission.

November 15, 2023 at 04:40 PM


James Cruze

Top cast

Boris Karloff as Saracen Guard
Gary Cooper as Seaman
Esther Ralston as Esther
Richard Arlen as Seaman
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
1.03 GB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 54 min
Seeds ...
1.91 GB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 54 min
Seeds ...

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by DrezenMedia 10 / 10

Rip-roaring adventure both on land and at sea!

This picture is absolutely fantastic. I just saw it two nights ago when I was clearing out my room and felt in the mood for a sea epic. It's funny how someone like me, who doesn't even know how to swim (and doesn't plan to), indulges himself with every sea picture he sees. Chuck Farrell proves a worthy choice for the lead; a dreamer, seeking adventure on the high seas. Esther Ralston, even though I'm anti-blonde, is gorgeous as his supporting heroine. The portion of the cast that MADE the picture however was Wallace Beery and George Bancroft. They were awesome characters and the fight scenes between them were hilarious. I will NOT reveal anymore important plot elements, see the picture for yourself and enjoy. Just make sure to bring a towel, you're bound to get drenched with excitement.

Reviewed by bkoganbing 7 / 10

The Young Constitution

Like Orson Welles with Citizen Kane, James Cruze spent the rest of his directorial career trying to top the success of the epic western The Covered Wagon. The sea serves as the prairie landscape for this film, Old Ironsides the story of the first days of that valiant ship of the line in our new US Navy for Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes penned his immortal poem.

In this film the Constitution is a new ship and it's off to fight in the war against the Barbary pirates of Tripoli. In what I think is a rather unnecessary prologue we're shown scenes of the debates in the 5th Congress as to whether we should have a navy at all.

When the meat of the story gets served it's a slice of action and romance. Young Charles Farrell goes off to sea in search of adventure and gets recruited in a grog shop by boatswain Wallace Beery. Also recruited that way is George Bancroft who is a gunner on the new Constitution. Bancroft ain't happy on the way he was drafted and he and Beery have a running feud going.

As for Farrell, he's got eyes for passenger Esther Ralston, but she's out of his league. But they all get into the same fix when the Barbary pirates capture them and the ship. After that it's the US Navy and the as yet to be named Old Ironsides to the rescue. Most important for Ralston as the pirates have a choice place in the sultan's harem for her.

The Constitution was as yet to be named Old Ironsides. That would occur later on in the era before the War of 1812 when she battled the British ship of the line Guerriere. The battle scenes are well staged, the recently departed from Paramount Cecil B. DeMille couldn't have done better than Cruze.

The film holds up very well and if it isn't history it's good entertainment.

Reviewed by topitimo-829-270459 7 / 10

Well made, but the perspective is a bit questionable.

"Old Ironsides" (1926) is a lavished production from the glory days of American silent cinema, helmed by director James Cruze. This is a two-hour historical epic, that takes place in the late 18th century, when Unites States was still a very young country. Pirates are terrorizing the Mediterranean, and U.S. politicians decide that they can no longer sit idly as this also affects their citizens. The opening is a tad questionable from today's perspective. The film demonizes the inhabitants of northern Africa, because they take white Americans as slaves. There is a bit of truth, historically. Muslim people were not allowed to take other Muslims as slaves, so in distant centuries slaves were found elsewhere. Yet this film's condemnation of African slave-merchants is a bit problematic, as the film glosses over America's own, similar history. If the film-makers would have wanted to be progressive, this film could have easily denounced all forms of slavery.

Yet, if one can get over these historical difficulties, this is a well-made adventure narrative with a big budget. There is a proper amount of action and also a romance between Charles Farrell and Esther Ralston. The real stars of the film, however, are the charismatic Wallace Beery and George Bancroft, who do a fine job here. However it is worth pointing out, that Bancroft's introductory scene shows him having a tattoo, which says "G. Bancroft", as it was the habit of silent films to also introduce the actors while the film was going on. Interesting curiosity. The film also included Gary Cooper and Boris Karloff as extras, though I didn't really spot either of them.

This film is well worth a watch for fans of naval adventures, as well as the fans of Wallace Beery.

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