Wednesday, December 26, 2018

CONSENSUS: 91. The Sea Hawk (1940)

SYNOPSIS:  "The Sea Hawk" is the tale of an English privateer played by Errol Flynn. The film is set pre-Spanish Armada. Queen Elizabeth I is attempting to juggle diplomacy with covert support for raids on Spanish shipping. Flynn's Thorpe is doing the raiding and has some swash-buckling adventures and chaste romancing to do before the obligatory sword fight.

BACK-GROUND:  The Sea Hawk was a remake of the 1924 silent classic, but while the original was loosely based on the novel by Rafael Sabatini, the 1940 version was inspired by the adventures of Sir Francis Drake.  It was directed by Michael Curtiz (“Casablanca”).  The movie had a huge budget of $1.75 million and was a box office success. Part of the money went into building a sound stage that had a water tank that could hold two full-size ships (which were built for the film). The movie was nominated for four Academy Awards: Art Direction, Music, Sound Recording, and Special Effects. In an interesting decision, The Sea Hawk was filmed in black and white whereas the earlier Adventures of Robin Hood was in Technicolor.

TRIVIA:  Wikipedia, imdb
1.  This was the tenth collaboration between director Michael Curtiz and Errol Flynn.  Their other movies included “The Adventures of Robin Hood” and “Captain Blood”.   They made a total of twelve although they despised each other.
2.  The movie was originally intended to be an adaptation of Rafael Sabatini’s novel, but it actually has little to do with the book and is more based on the adventures of Sir Francis Drake.
3.  Queen Elizabeth’s rousing speech was aimed at the British audience that was in WWII when the movie came out.  The line about the world not belonging to one man was a reference to Hitler.  However, the studio insisted that dialogue aimed at American intervention be toned down or removed.
4.  The costumes were reused from the previous year’s “The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex”.
5.  A huge sound stage was constructed that included a large water tank that held two full-sized sailing ships in twelve feet of water.
6.  Flora Robson also played Elizabeth in “Fire Over England”.
7.  One of Churchill’s favorite films.
8.  The costumes were reused from the Curtiz/Flynn The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Exeter.

Belle and Blade  =  N/A
Brassey’s              =  3
Video Hound       =  N/A
War Movies         =  N/A
Military History  =  48
Channel 4             =  not on list
Film Site                =  yes
101 War Movies  =  no

OPINION:    This is a fun movie. It is classic action/adventure and holds up surprisingly well. There are no sour notes. It is consistently strong across the board (acting, cinematography, music).  It is one of the greatest swashbucklers, but also fits comfortably in the war movie genre.  Along with the entertainment value, there is a tasty morsel of history in it.

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