The Pirates of Penzance is a 1983 musical film based on Gilbert and Sullivan's comic opera of the same name. It stars Kevin Kline, Rex Smith, Angela Lansbury, George Rose, Linda Ronstadt, and, Tony Azito. The cast also includes Timothy Bentinck, Louise Gold, and Tilly Vosburgh. It was filmed at Shepperton Studios in London. The movie is a film version of the 1980 Joseph Papp production of Pirates. The original Broadway cast reprised their roles in the film, except that Lansbury replaced Estelle Parsons as Ruth. The minor roles used British actors miming to their Broadway counterparts. The film was not a box office success, but, according to the IMDB, this "had nothing to do with the reviews, which were often quite positive. The real problem lay with Universal Pictures' decision to release the film simultaneously to SelecTV (a Los Angeles subscription television service) and to theaters. Theater owners were so angry that they boycotted the film; in the end, only 92 theaters agreed to show it, and it enjoyed a long run at only one of them."
The film was released on DVD in September, 2010.
Frederic (Rex Smith) was sent in the care of his nursemaid, Ruth (Angela Lansbury), to be apprenticed to a pilot. But she misunderstood her instructions, being hard of hearing, and apprenticed him instead to a pirate (Kevin Kline). Now he is turning 21 years old, and his service is finished, so he decides to leave the Pirates of Penzance. Ruth wants him to take her with him, but he soon meets some young maidens, the daughters of Major-General Stanley (George Rose), and realizes that Ruth is "plain and old". Frederic quickly falls in love with one of them, Mabel (Linda Rondstadt). He has a strong "sense of duty" and has vowed to lead a blameless life and to exterminate the pirates. Soon, however, the pirates return and seize the girls. Their father then arrives and lies to the pirates, telling them that he is an orphan. He knows that they are orphans themselves and never attack orphans.
After the pirates leave, General Stanley wrestles with his conscience, having told a lie. Mabel and Frederic try to cheer him up, and Frederic has engaged the constabulary to help him defeat the pirates. The police arrive, but they turn out to be timid. Then the Pirate King and Ruth find Frederic alone. They have reviewed the fine print on his apprenticeship indenture and have discovered that he is still a pirate because he was born in leap year on February 29th, and he will not be out of his indentures to the pirates until his 21st birthday. The Police return and, hearing the pirates approach, they hide. The pirates arrive and seize the still guilt-ridden Major-General. The police are coaxed to battle the pirates, but they are defeated. However, the Sergeant of Police (Tony Azito) calls on the pirates to "yield in Queen Victoria's name." The pirates tearfully do so and release the Major-General, surrendering to the police. However, Ruth reveals that the pirates are all "noblemen who have gone wrong", and the Major-General pardons them and invites them to marry his daughters, as all ends happily.