The most critically well received version of Gilbert and Sullivan's classic comedic masterpiece, this 1983 film is an excellent introduction to the work of the legendary writers and features some of the best comedy performances in film musicals to date. Well known singers and stage veterans such as Angela Lansbury and Linda Ronstadt complement the brilliantly quirky and likable performance of Keven Kline, who is less known for his musical work.
The story takes place on the final day of Frederick's apprenticeship to a group of rowdy and somewhat less-than-vicious pirates. This is an unfortunate circumstance derived from his hapless nursery maid's poor hearing, who misunderstood his father's directions that he be made in service to a ship's pilot. Frederick, who has lived his life with both a profound sense of duty to his piratical brethren and equal disgust for their activities has it in his mind to remove himself entirely from the fold and campaign for their arrest, even though he is held in high regard by the crew.
On his final day, Frederick's band of pirates come upon a defenseless major General and his daughters, and are prepared to steal away from him every one of the General's children and leave him for dead. However, they relent when the General lies about being an orphan, the sorry state which none of the Pirates, being orphans themselves, can do harm too.
Fending off the unwanted affectations of his nursery maid, and falling in love with one of many daughter's of the General, Frederick believes he has almost escaped the pirates life entirely when he is given the unfortunate discovery that his birth during leap year has invalidated the end of his apprenticeship. He must now tell the pirates of the general's deceit, and according to his sense of duty, must now fight the father of his beloved.
With a fast pace, ludicrous plotting, and catchy tunes, Pirates of Penzance is a gem not too be missed in the history of musicals.