File:Jack Sparrow In Pirates of the Caribbean- At World's End.JPG

Captain Jack Sparrow is a fictional character from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise who is portrayed by Johnny Depp. He was introduced in the film Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), and appeared in the back-to-back sequels, Dead Man's Chest (2006) and At World's End (2007), as well as the newest film, On Stranger Tides (2011). He is also the subject of a children's book series, Pirates of the Caribbean: Jack Sparrow, which chronicles his teenage years, and the character's image was introduced into the theme park ride that inspired the films when it was revamped in 2006. The character has also appeared in numerous video games.

Sparrow is the Pirate Lord of the Caribbean Sea and can be treacherous, surviving mostly by using wit and negotiation rather than weapons and force; although he will fight if necessary, he tries to flee most dangerous situations. Sparrow is introduced seeking to regain his ship the Black Pearl from his mutinous first mate Hector Barbossa in the first film, and in the sequels, attempts to escape his blood debt to the legendary Davy Jones while battling the East India Trading Co.


Film trilogyEdit

Jack Sparrow first appears in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), where he arrives in Port Royal looking to commandeer a ship. Despite rescuing Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley), the daughter of Governor Weatherby Swann (Jonathan Pryce) from drowning, he is jailed for piracy. That night, a ghost ship, the Black Pearl attacks Port Royal, capturing Elizabeth in the process. Its Captain, Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), is trying desperately to break an ancient Aztec curse that he and the crew are under. Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), a blacksmith who loves Elizabeth, frees Sparrow to aid him in rescuing her. They steal the HMS Interceptor and acquire a crew in Tortuga before heading to Isla de Muerta, where Elizabeth is being held captive. They are quickly captured, and Barbossa maroons Sparrow and Elizabeth on a deserted island.

The pair are rescued by the British Royal Navy. In order to escape hanging, Sparrow cuts a deal to deliver them the Black Pearl. During the film's final battle at Isla de Muerta, Sparrow steals a cursed coin, making himself immortal so he can fight Barbossa. He shoots his rival with the same bullet he has carried for ten years just as Will breaks the curse, killing Barbossa. Sparrow is captured and later sentenced to death. And at the hanging, Will tells Elizabeth that he has always loved her. At his scheduled execution in Port Royal, Will comes to his rescue, but they are quickly caught. Governor Swann and Commodore Norrington are reluctant to resume the hanging, however, and Will is pardoned, while Sparrow escapes by falling off the sea wall. He is rescued by the Black Pearl crew, and made captain once more. Apparently impressed by the clever pirate, Commodore James Norrington (Jack Davenport) allows him one day's head start before giving chase.[1]

In the sequel, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006), Sparrow searches for the Dead Man's Chest, which will help him to "control" the seas and save himself: thirteen years earlier, Sparrow bartered his soul to Captain Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) in return for Jones raising the sunken Black Pearl and making Sparrow captain. In the film, Sparrow must either serve for one hundred years aboard the Flying Dutchman, or be taken by the Kraken to Davy Jones’s Locker. The Dead Man's Chest contains Jones’s heart, which Sparrow can use as leverage against Jones and end his debt. Adding to Sparrow's woes, Lord Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander) of the East India Trading Company wants to settle his own debt with Sparrow and forces Will Turner to search for him. Will finds Sparrow and his crew hiding from the Kraken on Pelegosto where they have been captured by cannibals. They escape, but Sparrow betrays Will to Davy Jones as part of a new deal to deliver 100 souls in exchange for his own. Sparrow recruits sailors in Tortuga where he unexpectedly encounters Elizabeth and the disgraced James Norrington. Convincing Elizabeth she can free Will by finding the Chest, they head for Isla Cruces after she pinpoints its location with Jack's magic compass. Will also arrives, having escaped Jones’s ship after stealing the key to the Chest. Will wants to stab the heart and free his father who is in Jones’s service, while Norrington- who has discovered Lord Cutler Beckett desires the heart in order to control Davy Jones and the seas- hopes to regain his career by delivering the heart to Beckett. Sparrow fears if Jones is dead, the Kraken will continue hunting him. Jones’s crew arrives, and during the ensuing battle, Norrington steals the heart. Jones summons the Kraken to attack the Black Pearl. Realizing that the Kraken only wants Sparrow, Elizabeth tricks him by giving him a passionate kiss while chaining him to the mast to save the crew; Sparrow and the ship are dragged down to Davy Jones’s Locker.[2]

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (2007), opens with Davy Jones’s heart now in Beckett's possession, and the nine pirate lords of the Brethren Court are summoned to convene at Shipwreck Cove to combat the combined threat of Beckett and Jones. Though taken to Davy Jones's Locker at the end of the previous film, Sparrow, who is the Pirate Lord of the Caribbean, must attend the meeting, as he failed to bequeath his "piece of eight", a pirate lord's identification marker, to an heir. The collective "pieces of eight" can free the sea goddess Calypso. A resurrected Barbossa leads Sparrow's crew to Davy Jones's Locker using the Singaporean pirate lord Sao Feng (Chow Yun-Fat)'s navigational charts. There Sparrow has been hallucinating an entire crew of himself, each member representing a facet of his personality. After Barbossa and the crew find him, Sparrow deciphers a clue on the charts that indicates they must capsize the Black Pearl to escape the Locker; at sunset, the ship upturns back into the living world. Sparrow and Barbossa journey to the Brethren Court where they encounter Elizabeth, who was traded to Sao Feng, and was made a Pirate Lord by him just before he died. At the Brethren Court, she is elected "Pirate King" after Sparrow breaks a stalemate (in all previous meetings, Pirate Lords had always voted for themselves). During parley, he is traded for Will, who was captured by Jones and Beckett after Jack sent him overboard on the Black Pearl. The Black Pearl and the Flying Dutchman face off in battle during a maelstrom created by Calypso, Sparrow steals Davy Jones’s heart to become immortal, but when Jones mortally wounds Will, Sparrow instead helps Will stab the heart, killing Jones and making Will the Flying Dutchman's new captain. Together, the Black Pearl and the Flying Dutchman destroy Beckett's ship. At the end of the film Barbossa again commandeers the Black Pearl and Feng's charts, stranding Sparrow in Tortuga. Fortunately, Sparrow has already removed the chart's center, and he sets sail in a dinghy, using his compass and the chart to guide him to the Fountain of Youth.[3]


Outside films, Jack Sparrow first appeared as a companion character in the 2005 video game Kingdom Hearts II, where he was voiced by James Arnold Taylor in the English version and Hiroaki Hirata in the Japanese version. Sparrow has since appeared in other video games, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Legend of Jack Sparrow where he was voiced by Johnny Depp, the adaptation of Dead Man's Chest and various game versions of At World's End, where he was voiced by Jared Butler with motion capture movements provided by Johnny Paton. The character was also voiced by Jared Butler in Pirates of the Caribbean Online, which takes place before the films.

Sparrow's backstory in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Complete Visual Guide indicates he was born on a pirate ship during a typhoon in the Indian Ocean, and that he was trained to fence by an Italian.[4] Rob Kidd wrote an ongoing book series entitled Pirates of the Caribbean: Jack Sparrow, following a teenage Sparrow and his crew on the Barnacle as they battle sirens, mermaids and adult pirates while looking for various treasures. The first book, The Coming Storm, was published on June 1, 2006. On the website for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, it is explained that Sparrow once worked for the East India Trading Company and captained the Wicked Wench. When he refused to transport slaves, he was branded a pirate and his ship was ordered sunk by Lord Cutler Beckett, a company agent. Sparrow then bargained with Davy Jones to raise his ship, which he rechristened the Black Pearl.[5]

Concept and creationEdit

Character creationEdit

When writing the screenplay for Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio envisioned Jack Sparrow as a supporting character, citing Bugs Bunny and Groucho Marx as influences.[6] The producers saw him as a young Burt Lancaster.[7] Director Gore Verbinski admitted, "The first film was a movie, and then Jack was put into it almost. He doesn't have the obligations of the plot in the same ways that the other characters have. He meanders his way through, and he kind of affects everybody else."[8] Sparrow represents an ethical pirate, with Captain Barbossa as his corrupt foil.[6] His true motives usually remain masked, and whether he is honorable or evil depends on the audience's perspective.[9] This acts as part of Will Turner's arc, in which Sparrow tells him a pirate can be a good man, like his father.[6]

Following the success of The Curse of the Black Pearl, the challenge to creating a sequel was, according to Verbinski, "You don't want just the Jack Sparrow movie. It's like having a garlic milkshake. He's the spice and you need a lot of straight men....Let's not give them too much Jack. It's like too much dessert or too much of a good thing."[8] Although Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest's was written to propel the trilogy's plot,[10] Sparrow's state-of-mind as he is pursued by Davy Jones becomes increasingly edgy, and the writers concocted the cannibal sequence to show that he was in danger whether on land or at sea. Sparrow is also perplexed over his attraction to Elizabeth Swann, and attempts to justify it throughout the film.[11]

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End was meant to return it tonally to a character piece. Sparrow, in particular, is tinged with madness after extended solitary confinement in Davy Jones’s Locker,[10] and now desires immortality.[12] Sparrow struggles with what it takes to be a moral person,[13] after his honest streak caused his doom in the second film.[14] By the end of At World's End Sparrow is sailing to the Fountain of Youth, an early concept for the second film.[15] Rossio has said they may write the screenplay for a fourth film,[16] and producer Jerry Bruckheimer has expressed interest in a spin-off.[17] Gore Verbinski concurred that "all of the stories set in motion by the first film have been resolved. If there ever were another Pirates of the Caribbean film, I would start fresh and focus on the further adventures of Captain Jack Sparrow."[18]

Johnny DeppEdit

Johnny Depp was looking to do a family film in 2001, and was visiting Walt Disney Studios when he heard there were plans to adapt the Pirates of the Caribbean ride into a film. Depp was excited by the possibility of reviving an old Hollywood genre,[7] and was further delighted that the script met his quirky sensibilities: the crew of the Black Pearl were not searching for treasure, but were instead trying to return it to lift their curse. In addition, the traditional mutiny had already occurred.[19] Depp was cast on June 10, 2002.[20] Producer Jerry Bruckheimer felt Depp was "an edgy actor who will kind of counter the Disney Country Bears soft quality and tell an audience that an adult and teenager can go see this and have a good time with it."[21]

At the first read-through, Depp surprised the cast and crew by portraying the character in an off-kilter manner.[22] After researching 18th century pirates, Depp compared them to modern rock stars and decided to base his performance on Keith Richards.[21] Verbinski and Bruckheimer had confidence in Depp, partly because Orlando Bloom would be playing the traditional Errol Flynn-type character.[19] Depp also improvised the film's final line, "Now, bring me that horizon.", which is the writer's favorite line.[22] Disney executives were initially confused by Depp's performance, asking him whether the character was drunk or gay. Michael Eisner even proclaimed while watching rushes, "He's ruining the film!"[22] Depp responded, "Look, these are the choices I made. You know my work. So either trust me or give me the boot."[21] Many industry insiders also questioned Depp's casting, as he was an unconventional actor not known for working within the traditional studio system.[23]

Depp's performance was highly acclaimed by film critics. Alan Morrison found it "Gloriously over-the-top... In terms of physical precision and verbal delivery, it's a master-class in comedy acting."[24] Roger Ebert also found his performance "original in its every atom. There has never been a pirate, or for that matter a human being, like this in any other movie....his behavior shows a lifetime of rehearsal." Ebert also praised Depp for drawing away from the way the character was written.[25] Although he disliked the film, critic Kenneth Turan enjoyed Depp's performance,[26] but Mark Kermode wrote it was some of Depp's "worst work to date... under [director Gore Verbinski]'s slack direction Depp defaults to an untrammelled showiness not seen since the sub-Buster Keaton antics of Benny & Joon."[27] Depp won a Screen Actor's Guild award for his performance, and was also nominated for a Golden Globe[28] and an Academy Award, the first in his career.[29] Film School Rejects argued that because of the film, Depp became as much a movie star as he was a character actor.[30]


Johnny Depp returned as Jack Sparrow in 2006's Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, the first time the actor ever made a sequel.[22] Drew McWeeny noted, "Remember how cool Han Solo was in Star Wars the first time you saw it? And then remember how much cooler he seemed when Empire came out? This is that big a jump."[31] Yet, Eric Vespe felt that "In the first movie he was playing a fool that was hiding a great pirate on the inside and in this one he's a great pirate hiding a cowardly fool."[32] By At World's End, Peter Travers felt it proved "there can indeed be too much of a good thing."[33] Nonetheless, Depp received an MTV Movie Award[34] and a Teen Choice Award for Dead Man's Chest, and was also nominated for a Golden Globe.[35] For his performance in At World's End, Depp won a People's Choice Award and a Kids' Choice Award. He has signed on to reprise the role another time.[36]

Make-up and costumesEdit

Johnny Depp wore a wig to portray Sparrow's dreadlocks, an aesthetic influenced by Depp's rock n' roll approach to pirates.[37] In addition to a red bandana Sparrow wears numerous objects in his hair, influenced by Keith Richards' habit of collecting souvenirs from his travels;[38] Sparrow's decorations include his "piece of eight".[3] Sparrow wears kohl around his eyes, which was inspired by Depp's study of nomads, whom he compared to pirates,[39] and Depp also wore contacts that acted as sunglasses.[40] Sparrow has several gold teeth, two of which belong to Depp,[41] although they were applied during filming. Depp forgot to have them removed after shooting The Curse of the Black Pearl,[42] and decided to keep them throughout shooting of the sequels.[7] Like all aspects of Depp's performance, Disney initially expressed great concern over Depp's teeth.[11] Sparrow wears his goatee in two braids. Initially wire was used in them, but they were abandoned because they stuck up when Depp lay down.[43] Sparrow also has numerous tattoos,[3] and has been branded a pirate on his right arm by Cutler Beckett,[2] underneath a tattoo of a sparrow.[1] In At World's End, one of the "Jack" incarnations is working stripped to the waist, and a full body tattoo of the poem The Desiderata is clearly seen; Since the "Jacks" are all aspects of the original it is safe to assume the character has the tattoo throughout the series.

Depp collaborated with costume designer Penny Rose on his character's appearance, handpicking the tricorne as Sparrow's signature leather hat: the other characters in the series could not wear leather hats, to make Sparrow's unique. For the scene when it floats on water in Dead Man's Chest, a rubber version was used.[44] Depp liked to stick to one costume, wearing one lightweight silk tweed frock coat throughout the series,[45] and he had to be coaxed out of wearing his boots for a version without a sole or heel in beach scenes.[46] None of the costumes from The Curse of the Black Pearl survived, which allowed the opportunity to create tougher linen shirts for stunts.[47] It was a nightmare for Rose to track down the same makers of Sparrow's sash in Turkey. Rose did not want to silkscreen it, as the homewoven piece had the correct worn feel.[48] Sparrow wears an additional belt in the sequels, because Depp liked a new buckle which did not fit with the original piece.[49]

Sparrow's weapons are genuine 18th century pieces: his sword dates to the 1740s, while his pistol is from the 1760s. Both were made in London.[40][50] Depp used two pistols on set, one being rubber. Both props survived after production of the first film.[51] Sparrow's magic compass also survived into the sequels, though director Gore Verbinski had a red arrow added to the dial as it became a more prominent prop. As it does not act like a normal compass, a magnet was used to make it spin.[52] Sparrow wears four rings, two of which belong to Depp. Depp bought the green ring in 1989, and the gold ring is a replica of a 2400-year old ring Depp gave to the crew, though the original was later stolen. The other two are props which Depp gave backstories to: the gold-and-black ring is stolen from a Spanish widow Sparrow seduced, and the green dragon ring recalls his adventures in the Far East.[53] Among Depp's additional ideas was the necklace made of human toes that Sparrow wears as the Pelegosto prepare to eat him,[54] and the scepter was based on one a friend of Depp's owned.[55]

During the course of the trilogy, Sparrow undergoes physical transformations. In The Curse of the Black Pearl Sparrow curses himself to battle the undead Barbossa. Like all the actors playing the Black Pearl crew, Depp had to shoot scenes in costume as a reference for the animators, and his shots as a skeleton were shot again without him. Depp reprised the scene again on a motion capture stage.[40] In At World's End, Sparrow hallucinates a version of himself as a member of Davy Jones’s crew, adhered to a wall and encrusted with barnacles. Director Gore Verbinski oversaw that the design retained Sparrow's iconic look,[56] and rejected initial designs which portrayed him as over 100 years old.[57]


"Me, I'm dishonest. And a dishonest man you can always trust to be dishonest. Honestly, it's the honest ones you want to watch out for, because you can never predict when they're going to do something incredibly stupid."
— The unpredictable Sparrow betrays Barbossa[1]

According to screenwriters Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, Sparrow is a trickster who uses wit and deceit to attain his goals, being a lesser swordsman compared to the other characters.[58] He walks with a slightly drunken swagger and has slurred speech and flailing hand gestures.[6] Will Turner initially believes Sparrow suffers from heatstroke, but notes later that Sparrow's actions are often preplanned.[1] His tactics earned an admiring comment from the character of Lieutenant Groves (Greg Ellis), who asks Cutler Beckett: "Do you think he plans it all out, or just makes it up as he goes along?"[3] Sparrow usually prefers the strategies of non-violent negotiations and turning his enemies against each other as his swords skills are outclassed by other characters.[6] He explains, "Why fight when you can negotiate? All one needs is the proper leverage."[2] He will invoke parley and tempt his enemies away from their murderous intentions, encouraging them to see the bigger picture, as he does when he persuades Hector Barbossa to delay returning to mortal form so he can battle the British Royal Navy.[1] He often uses complex wordplay and vocabulary to confound his enemies,[1][2] and it is suggested that his pacifism may be one reason Barbossa and the Black Pearl crew mutinied; Barbossa says in the first film, "That's the attitude that cost you the Pearl."[1] His pacifism is further indicated by the tattoo of the Desiderata on his back.

The character is portrayed as having created, or at least contributed to, his own reputation. When Gibbs tells Will that Sparrow escaped from a desert island by strapping two sea turtles together, Sparrow embellishes the story by claiming the rope was made from hair from his own back. The video game Pirates of the Caribbean: The Legend of Jack Sparrow bases itself around these tall tales, including the sacking of Nassau port without firing a single shot.[1] In a script draft of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest Will's guide says that he heard Sparrow escaped execution in Port Royal by grabbing two parrots and flying away.[11] Johnny Depp has said pirates were like rock stars in that their fame preceded them, which suggests a reason for the portrayal of Sparrow as having an enormous ego.[58] Sparrow also insists on being addressed as "Captain" Jack Sparrow[1] and often gives the farewell, "You will always remember this as the day you almost caught Captain Jack Sparrow," which is sometimes humorously cut off.[1][2] When accused by Norrington as being the worst pirate he has ever heard of, Sparrow replies, "But you have heard of me."[1] In a deleted scene from The Curse of the Black Pearl Sparrow ponders being "the immortal Captain Jack Sparrow",[59] and during the third film he seeks immortality, although his father, Captain Teague, warns it can be a terrible curse. Sparrow also ponders being "Captain Jack Sparrow, the last pirate," as the East India Trading Company purges piracy.[3]

Despite his many heroics, Sparrow is a pirate and a morally ambiguous character.[13] When agreeing to trade 100 souls, including Will, to Davy Jones in exchange for his freedom, Jones asks Sparrow whether he can, "condemn an innocent man—a friend—to a lifetime of servitude in your name while you roam free?" After a hesitation Sparrow merrily replies, "Yep! I'm good with it!"[2] He carelessly runs up debts with Anamaria,[1] Davy Jones, and the other pirate lords.[3] Sao Feng (Chow Yun-Fat), pirate lord of Singapore, is particularly hateful towards him.[3] In a cowardly moment, Sparrow abandons his crew during the Kraken's attack, but underlying loyalty and morality compel him to return and save them.[60] Sparrow claims to be a man of his word,[1] and expresses surprise that people doubt his truthfulness.[2] His morality is revealed in his official backstory in which he refused to transport slaves,[5] nor is there murder or rape on his criminal record.[61][1]

Depp partly based the character on Pepé Le Pew, a womanizing skunk from Looney Tunes.[7] Sparrow claims to have a "tremendous intuitive sense of the female creature",[2] although his conquests are often left with a sour memory of him. Former flames, Scarlett and Giselle, usually slap him[1] or anyone looking for him.[2] His witty charm easily attracts women, and even has Elizabeth Swann questioning her feelings.[2] Director Gore Verbinski noted phallic connotations in Sparrow's relationship with his vessel, as he grips the steering wheel.[19] The Black Pearl is described as "the only ship which can outrun the Flying Dutchman".[3] The Freudian overtones continue in the third film when Sparrow and Barbossa battle for captaincy of the Black Pearl, showing off the length of their telescopes, and in a deleted scene, they fight over the steering wheel.[62] Sparrow claims his "first and only love is the sea,"[2] and describes his ship as representing freedom.[1] Davy Jones’s Locker is represented as a desert, symbolising his personal hell.[11]

Sparrow also has bad personal hygiene, a trait of Pepé Le Pew. Verbinski described Sparrow's breath as "a donkey's ass".[19] Sparrow knocks Will off his ship simply by huffing at him.[3] Lastly, Sparrow has an insatiable thirst for rum, which can confuse his magic compass as to what he wants most.[2][3] According to his criminal record on the At World's End website, he even sacked a shipment of rum to quench his thirst.[61]

Sparrow's catchphrase is an ending question, "Savvy?", in place of the phrase "Get it?"[63]


When Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest grossed over $1 billion worldwide, Ian Nathan attributed this to Sparrow's popularity: "Pirates, the franchise, only had to turn up. There was a powerful holdover from the cheeky delights of its debut, something we hadn't felt since the Clone Wars called it a day."[64] Empire declared Johnny Depp's performance to be the seventy-fourth "thing that rocked our world" in 2006 when celebrating 200 issues.[65] A survey of more than 3,000 people showed Jack Sparrow was the most popular Halloween costume of 2006,[66] and a 2007 poll held by the Internet Movie Database showed Sparrow to be the second most popular live action hero, after Indiana Jones.[67] In a 2007 Pearl & Dean poll, Jack Sparrow is Depp's most popular performance.[68]

Emanuel Levy feels the character is the only iconic film character of the 2000s,[58] while Todd Gilchrist feels Sparrow is the only element of the films that will remain timeless.[69] According to Sharon Eberson, the character's popularity can be attributed to being a "scoundrel whose occasional bouts of conscience allow viewers to go with the flaws because, as played to the larger-than-life hilt by Depp, he owns every scene he is in."[70] Film history professor at UCLA Jonathan Kuntz also attributed his popularity to the increased questioning of masculinity in the 21st century, and Sparrow's personality contrasts with action-adventure heroes in cinema. Leonard Maltin concurs that Sparrow has a carefree attitude and does not take himself seriously.[71] Mark Fox also noted Sparrow is an escapist fantasy figure for women, free from much of the responsibility of most heroes.[72] Sparrow is listed by IGN as one of their ten favorite film outlaws, as he "lives for himself and the freedom to do whatever it is that he damn well pleases. Precious few film characters have epitomized what makes the outlaw such a romantic figure for audiences as Captain Jack Sparrow has."[73]


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  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 Gore Verbinski (director) (2006) (Film). Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. Walt Disney Pictures. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 3.9 Gore Verbinski (director) (2007) (Film). Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. Walt Disney Pictures. 
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  46. (DVD) Jack's Boots. Buena Vista. 2006. 
  47. (DVD) Jack's Shirt. Buena Vista. 2006. 
  48. (DVD) Jack's Sash. Buena Vista. 2006. 
  49. (DVD) Jack's Belt. Buena Vista. 2006. 
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