HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Annette
Shepherd
Dying to Divorce
Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn
Trouble with Being Born, The
Last Matinee, The
Strings, The
Free Hand for a Tough Cop
People Just Do Nothing: Big in Japan
Dear Future Children
Accidental Luxuriance of the Translucent Watery Rebus
Swallow
Thin Red Line, The
Petite Maman
Fast & Furious 9
Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat
Sweet Thing
Maelstrom
Father, The
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Night House, The
Father of Flies
80,000 Years Old
Dead & Beautiful
Bull
Censor
Sleep
Freaky
Nightbooks
Whisker Away, A
Wild Indian
Whale Island
Chuck Steel: Night of the Trampires
Don't Breathe 2
Closing Time
Cryptozoo
Weathering with You
Rim of the World
Love & Basketball
JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time
   
 
Newest Articles
The Punk Rock Movie: Out of the Blue on Blu-ray
Yeah, Too Quiet: The Great Silence on Blu-ray
Vestron Double Bill: Dementia 13 and The Wraith
Farewell Dean Stockwell: His Years of Weirdness
Kung Fu Craft: Cinematic Vengeance! on Blu-ray
999 Letsbe Avenue: Gideon's Way on Blu-ray
Hungary for Cartoons: Hungarian Animations on MUBI
You Have No Choice: Invasion of the Body Snatchers on Blu-ray
You Can't Tame What's Meant to Be Wild: The Howling on Blu-ray
Commendably Brief: Short Sharp Shocks Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Super Silents: Early Universal Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Fable Fear: The Singing Ringing Tree on Blu-ray
Gunsight Eyes: The Sabata Trilogy on Blu-ray
Bloody Bastard Baby: The Monster/I Don't Want to Be Born on Blu-ray
Night of the Animated Dead: Director Jason Axinn Interview
The ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt - Interview with Director/Star Ian Boldsworth
On the Right Track: Best of British Transport Films Vol. 2
The Guns of Nutty Joan: Johnny Guitar on Blu-ray
Intercourse Between Two Worlds: Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me/The Missing Pieces on Blu-ray
Enjoy the Silents: Early Universal Vol. 1 on Blu-ray
Masterful: The Servant on Blu-ray
70s Sitcom Dads: Bless This House and Father Dear Father on Blu-ray
Going Under: Deep Cover on Blu-ray
Child's Play: Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 3 on DVD
Poetry and Motion: Great Noises That Fill the Air on DVD
   
 
  Sea Hawk, The No-one expected the Spanish Inquisition, except Geoffrey
Year: 1940
Director: Michael Curtiz
Stars: Errol Flynn, Brenda Marshall, Claude Rains, Donald Crisp, Flora Robson, Alan Hale, Henry Daniell, Una O'Connor, James Stephenson, Gilbert Roland, William Lundigan, Julien Mitchell, Montagu Love, J.M. Kerrigan, David Bruce
Genre: Historical, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 2 votes)
Review: English slaves imprisoned aboard a Spanish galleon rejoice when dashing pirate captain Geoffrey Thorpe (Errol Flynn) sails to their rescue. Spanish aristocrat Don José Alvarez de Cordoba (Claude Rains) is less impressed when Thorpe and his men help themselves to Spanish treasure. Yet the Don's beautiful niece, Dona Maria (Brenda Marshall) stirs passion in Thorpe's heart. As a show of gallantry he returns her precious jewels and she falls in love with him. Upon returning to England, Thorpe charms his way back into the good graces of Queen Elizabeth I (Flora Robson). Nevertheless, on the advice of Lord Wolfingham (Henry Daniell), the Queen looks to forge an alliance with King Philip II of Spain promising an end to all piracy. At her majesty's request Thorpe embarks on a secret mission unaware his enemies have lain a deadly trap that will have dire consequences for England.

In the years before the USA entered the Second World War many exiled European filmmakers active in Hollywood did their part to alert American filmgoers to the plight of those facing the Nazi threat. None more so than Hungarian émigré Michael Curtiz whose masterpiece Casablanca (1942) quite literally saved lives. His swashbuckling historical adventure romps with superstar Errol Flynn proved just as valuable as propaganda. The Sea Hawk marked their tenth collaboration despite star and director mutually loathing each other. Adapting the well-regarded 1915 novel by Rafael Sabatini, which first reached the screen in a more faithful silent film version in 1924, screenwriters Seton I. Miller and Howard Koch threw out most of the plot and drew inspiration instead from the sea-faring exploits of Sir Francis Drake. The film draws parallels between the Spanish Inquisition and the Nazis whilst reinforcing the notion of England as a bastion of freedom, decency and courage exemplified through the nation standing alone against tyranny. In doing so the film glosses over Thorpe's piracy as he gently reminds Maria her jewels were stolen from foreign lands in the first place.

When the King of Spain (Montagu Love) talks of redrafting the map of the world till it resembles a map of Spain, it is not hard to see Curtiz is alluding to another would-be conqueror active in Europe in 1940. The main thrust of the plot concerns Thorpe's efforts to rouse Elizabeth I to the fact Spain is already at war with the world, much as the world in 1940 proved slow to awaken to the threat of Adolf Hitler. By painting Lord Wolfingham as a self-serving weasel the film stands as a riposte to those that favoured appeasement. Curtiz paints on a broad canvas but finds space for small moments of poetry (e.g. the scene with Maria at the docks gazing forlornly as Thorpe's ship sails away while he somehow senses her presence) and whimsical comedy including the antics of a lovable monkey that likely inspired the more sinister one in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). The set-pieces are grandiose and hugely exciting with flawless set design and miniature work along with a thundering score from the great Erich Wolfgang Korngold. However, Curtiz adds some welcome grit to the fanciful swashbuckler genre when Thorpe and his men are trapped in a sweltering swamp and drop dead one by one, only to end up as galley slaves aboard a Spanish ship.

In support of Flynn, Curtiz assembled the usual rogues gallery with Alan Hale and Claude Rains back on comedy sidekick and smarmy villain duties respectively. The one notable absentee was Flynn's regular leading lady Olivia de Havilland who rejected the role of Dona Maria. Brenda Marshall may not sparkle quite as brightly as de Havilland but is neither the weak link critics often make her out to be. She and Flynn make an attractive screen pairing and it is quite amusing to see his rakish hero melt into a knock-kneed schoolboy in her presence. While the script lifts a lot of motifs familiar from past Flynn-Curtiz swashbucklers it presents them with panache, wit and energy. The formula had yet to grow stale while Flynn's gleaming charisma burned brightly still. He is great fun here, whether crossing blades with the enemy or trading banter with Flora Robson's formidable Elizabeth I. Naturally he saves the day though the film stops short of having him single-handedly foil the entire Spanish armada. He could probably do it, though.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 2758 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
Jason Cook
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
   

 

Last Updated: