Duan goes to the movies!

‘Pirate Radio’ (titled ‘The Boat That Rocked’ outside North America) is a “rip-roaring’ 2009 comedy written and directed by Richard Curtis. The fictional, but inspired by true events (link has spoilers), plot revolves around a UK pirate radio station in 1966 whose unique (for the UK of that time) ‘all rock and roll, all the time’ content was causing the ire of the British government. But, in a bid to avoid British legal jurisdiction, the pirate station was broadcasting from a boat stationed somewhere in the North Sea. The cast includes Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Count), Bill Nighy (Quentin), Rhys Ifans (Gavin Kavanagh), Nick Frost (DJ Dave), and Kenneth Branagh (Sir Alistair Dormandy). Here’s a 3-minute trailer with a few words from Curtis and some of the cast members:

The film was first released in Great Britain on 1 April 2009. It got mixed reviews and was a failure at the British Box Office, earning $10 million in 3 months while its budget was $50 million. For its North American release, the runtime was reduced by 20 minutes and the film was re-titled ‘Pirate Radio.’ It still got mixed reviews, a 61% Tomato-meter, but a 71% Audience Score, at Rotten Tomatoes, and still bombed at the US Box Office, earning $8 million in 2 months. I don’t understand why ‘Pirate radio’ was such a Box Office failure. I thought it was fine and gave it 2 thumbs up. Maybe all the good music distracted me!



  1. hey we had a radio station just like that over here… radio veronica…they were cool back in the 60s (uhhh… well so im told…)
    nowadays they are all legit and kinda suck… play the same 10 currently popular songs 43 times a day….meh

    • the way I saw it was to checkout the dvd from my public library. have libraries in your town opened? mine hasn’t. my library also uses hoopla to offer streaming. I looked at hoopla and neither ‘Pirate Radio’ nor ‘The Boat That Rocked’ are an option. do you know if your library offers streaming?

      as far as web options since I never watch movies on my pc (too many distractions!) I haven’t looked into it…

  2. In high school we had a substitute teacher that was one of the little people in this movie. He would have got a bunch of grief he wasn’t such a cool, funny guy!

  3. It’s a beautiful day, My car is blocked in by the construction vehicles. And I can’t hang out on the patio because of the work going on. I’ve got cabin fever!

  4. Maybe Pirate Radio didn’t do so well because people didn’t understand that it actually existed and why. Farscythe mentions Radio Caroline, which was still broadcasting in the 1980s to southeastern England, where I listened to it. There was another one (or maybe more) in France. It wasn’t so much censorship as regulation: you had to allocate the bandwidth somehow, with licensing, and there might have been public-service-announcements time requirements. Although I take that back, there were probably some censorship issues about what was played and what the DJs said. It wasn’t like being caught surreptitiously listening to Radio Free Europe in Bulgaria but they were very much pirate operations.

    • In a similar vein, avclub.com has a bit today about John R. Brinkley, who set up a station just over the Mexican border that blasted at 1 Million watts, 20x the legal limit in the US.

      He was also notorious for being a quack doctor who implanted goat testicles in humans as a treatment for impotency.

      Supposedly there were two movies based on him in the works, one with Richard Linklater starring Robert Downey Jr., and another starring Matt Damon.

    • …think it was Loveshaq with the link to the thing that referenced radio caroline (farscythe mentioned radio veronica) but I always wondered why they went with this sort of not-quite-fiction-but-also-not-non-fiction set up for the film?

      I think it might have been better received in the UK if it had either played the non-fiction thing harder & actually been about radio caroline (maybe more in the tone of the film about the fifth beatle…or even given it the spinal tap treatment) or if it had been fictional but done a better job at trying to get across what it was that the station meant to people at the time than it actually did?

      …always kind of suspected that somewhere in development hell someone who had been on board as their connection to the radio caroline thing didn’t like the way they were going & pulled out while taking their based-on-a-true-story ball home with them so they stuck with what they had & kind of fell between two stools?

      …nothing to really base that on other than some folks I know to whom radio caroline was kind of a big deal & who were notably unhappy about pretty much everything to do with the movie except for the cast, though

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