Corsair (film)

Corsair is a 1931 American pre-Code crime drama written, produced and directed by Roland West. The film is based on the 1931 novel Corsair, a Pirate in White Flannels[1] by Walton Green and takes place in and was shot during the era of Prohibition in the United States.[2] The film stars Chester Morris and Thelma Todd (credited as Alison Loyd).[3]

CORSAIR poster.jpg
Film poster
Directed byRoland West
Screenplay byJosephine Lovett
Roland West
Based onWalton Green's Corsair
Produced byRoland West
StarringChester Morris
Alison Loyd
CinematographyRay June
Edited byHal C. Kern
Music byAlfred Newman
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date
  • November 28, 1931 (1931-11-28)
Running time
75 minutes
CountryUnited States


College football hero John Hawks (Morris) lets himself be goaded by wealthy socialite Alison Corning (Loyd/Todd) into forgoing a job coaching the college team to be "a real man, and make real money" in the big city with her father, Stephen Corning (Emmett Corrigan), on Wall Street. He soon has more than he can stomach, making money by bilking the poor out of their meager savings with junk bonds. Mr. Corning tells John he doesn't have what it takes to succeed in the brutal world of share trading. John replies he will seek a new line of work where he will not go after elderly widows' savings.

John decides to go after those who deserve to lose their money: bootleggers. He gets inside information on Big John's (Fred Kohler) rum-running operation from Slim (Ned Sparks) through his gun moll, Sophie. Sophie taps out the information in Morse code with her typewriter to a confederate who informs John of alcohol shipments. Hawks is a modern pirate.

With his friend, 'Chub' (Frank McHugh), he captains the Corsair, a gunboat, which preys on bootleggers and then resells the cargo to their wealthy backers. He only forgot two things: that in the cutthroat world of junk bonds and margin calls, they don't use real knives, machine guns, and bombs, like the gangsters; and the girl hiding in the hold.



  1. ^ Corsair, a Pirate in White Flannels,; accessed December 15, 2015.
  2. ^ Goble, Alan, ed. (1999). The Complete Index to Literary Sources in Film. Walter de Gruyter. p. 191. ISBN 3-110-95194-0.
  3. ^ Donati, William (2012). The Life and Death of Thelma Todd. McFarland. p. 60. ISBN 978-0-786-48817-9.

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