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“Show them how to lower those colors!” March 17, 2007

Posted by Jeff in 1929 through WWII, Movies.
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For St. Patrick’s Day, a swashbuckling dose of my favorite Irish movie star.

Poster of <i>The Sea Hawk</i>The Sea Hawk (1940) gives us Errol Flynn at his best, directed by Michael Curtiz, with a script by Howard Koch and Seton I. Miller that owes its title (and almost nothing else) to the novel by Rafael Sabatini, who also wrote Captain Blood.

Sabatini’s novel of The Sea Hawk was about a Cornish landholder betrayed by his brother, kidnapped by pirates, captured by Spaniards, and sold as a slave to the Moors (and all in the first fifty pages). It was much more faithfully filmed as a silent in 1924, starring Milton Sills. This version can occasionally be caught on Turner Classic Movies and is well worth a look. Koch and Miller’s script completely ignores Sabatini’s novel, ending up as a knockoff of Captain Blood combined with a sprinkling of Francis Drake’s history.

Brenda MarshallThe Sea Hawk marked one of the few notable movie appearances of Brenda Marshall (right), otherwise best remembered for being married to William Holden for thirty years. She was (of course) Flynn’s love interest, the daughter of the duplicitous Spanish ambassador portrayed by Claude Rains. Henry Daniell was the traitorous Lord Wolfingham, every shot of whose climactic sword duel had to be painstakingly doubled since Daniell was such an incompetent fencer that he couldn’t even convincingly pretend to keep up with Flynn.

The nine-minute segment below is the first major sea battle of the film. Music by Erich Wolfgang Korngold, cinematography by Sol Polito, editing by George Amy, stunts by Fred Cavens and Ralph Faulkner, and featuring the ubiquitous Alan Hale as Mr. Pitt, J. M. Kerrigan as the undisciplined Mr. Matson, and Pedro de Cordoba as the Spanish captain … Hollywood action movies don’t get any better than this.


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Comments»

1. Julia - March 17, 2007

Gotta love Errol Flynn duelling in tight pants… We’ve been reading a bunch of Sabatini lately; we hadn’t even realized that this “Sea Hawk” was supposed to be the same one as Sabatini’s novel. Since, as you say, they bear no resemblance to one another.

Happy St. Patrick’s day!

2. Jeff - March 17, 2007

There was a time when putting the title of a Sabatini novel on your movie would guarantee a boost to your box office … no doubt it helped the returns on the Captain Blood movie, which is much closer to Sabatini.

3. Thaddeus - March 25, 2007

I of course, have long been a fan of Flynn. No doubt due to you giving me copies of the Adventures of Robin Hood, the Sea Hawk, and Captain Blood when I was just a kid.
They remain three of my all time favorite movies and those old VHS tapes have become worn out from all those viewings.

One comment on Flynn though, my understang was that he was not Irish, but rather Tasmanian.

4. Jeff - March 25, 2007

Tasmanian? The devil you say!

Well, yes, he was born and raised in Australia, but he was definitely of Irish ancestry and he tended to identify himself as such.

And besides, I was posting on St Patrick’s Day, when everyone is Irish.

5. sumon - August 29, 2007

Gotta love Errol Flynn duelling in tight pants… We’ve been reading a bunch of Sabatini lately; we hadn’t even realized that this “Sea Hawk” was supposed to be the same one as Sabatini’s novel. Since, as you say, they bear no resemblance to one another.


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