"The Sea Hawk is, perhaps, my favorite Errol Flynn film, with it's rousing sea battles, incredible swordplay, chaste romance, and political intrigue, as well as a brilliant Korngold score, and Michael Curtis' sharp direction. As a video, it has had almost as circuitous a journey as Captain Thorpe had, returning to England from Panama!When CBS/Fox first released the film to VHS, in the 80's, the only existing prints had been edited, both for theatrical rereleases in the late 40s, and for television. This was the 'accepted' version of the film, even though it was widely known that The Sea Hawk was several minutes longer back in 1940.Then, a copy of the ORIGINAL print was found, in England, and CBS/Fox quickly repackaged it, and released it as UNCUT. This is the version we see today, right down to the 'British Board of Censors' Approval, at the start of the film. The best known additions to the film were Queen Elizabeth's stirring speech (written as a slap at the Nazis); a brief, almost leering scene, as Thorpe prepares to have a lovers' rendevous; and, most importantly, a sepia-tinted version of the Panama scenes, that captures the sweltering heat of the jungle!The additions make The Sea Hawk even MORE enjoyable for both film buffs and Flynn fans! If you haven't seen it, yet, you're in for a treat!"
Classic Romantic Adventure
Mark Wylie | Spokane, WA United States | 04/28/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the sort of romantic adventure that Hollywood doesn't make much anymore--the sort of movie that has been superseded, lamentably, by the speical effects-laden action movies of today. "The Sea Hawk" is one of the finest of the genre.In one of his finest performances, Errol Flynn is Captain Geoffrey Thorpe, an English privateer modeled after Sir Francis Drake. War looms between Elizabethan England and Spain. We meet Captain Thorpe when he captures a Spanish ship carrying the new Ambassador, Don Alvarez, and his half-English niece, Donna Maria (played by a radiant Brenda Marshall). As Thorpe conveys the ambassador to England, sparks fly between him and Donna Maria, of the sort that let us know that they're made for each other.At Queen Elizabeth's court, Thorpe's fellow "sea hawks" press the queen to build up a fleet, while her counselor Lord Wolfingham opposes them. Thorpe, with the queen's completely unofficial sanction, plans a blow against the Spanish, while his romance with Maria blossoms. But wait, why is Lord Wolfingham spending all that time with the Spanish Ambassador...Besides Flynn and Marshall, the film boasts standout performances from Flora Robson as Queen Elizabeth, Claude Rains as Don Alvarez (surprisingly sympathetic towards his niece and her love for Thorpe), and Henry Daniell as the sinister, well-named Wolfingham. Farther down the cast you have solid performances from the likes of Alan Hale, Una O'Connor and Donald Crisp.The jewel in "The Sea Hawk's" crown is Erich Wolfgang Korngold's score. Korngold was the John Williams of his day, the master of the rich orchestral film score. Why he didn't win an Oscar for this, his finest score of all, is one of Hollywood's many mysteries. But of course, so is the question of why Hollywood doesn't make movies like this anymore."
Stunning Errol Flynn Adventure On The High Seas
Simon Davis | 09/25/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
""The Sea Hawk" is the definitive swashbuckling tale and captures legendary actor Errol Flynn at his most dynamic. He was an actor born for these type of romantic action roles as seen in the earlier classics "Captain Blood", and "The Adventures of Robin Hood". This film reveals Flynn in a tailor made role when he was at the peak of his physical fitness, and athletic prowess and he brings a new maturity and depth to his character here after 5 years of top stardom at Warner Brothers. "The Sea Hawk", is everything a good high seas adventure should be with eye filling adventure, exotic locations, romance, dashes of intrigue and superb swordplay.With the the huge box office returns Warner's got for "Captain Blood", it was certain that Errol Flynn would be the natural choice to head any future productions of lavish pirate tales being filmed by the studio. That encore came along in another adventure story written by Rafael Sabatini "The Sea Hawk",which Warner's planned as one of their most lavish productions for 1940. Discarding most of the original novel writers Koch and Miller fashioned an exciting and beautiful screenplay that worked wonderfully on screen. "The Sea Hawk", tells the story of British Privateer Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe (Errol Flynn), who with secret backing from Queen Elizabeth (Flora Robson), sets out on many voyages designed to harrass the Spanish Empire while enriching the British treasury with plunder from the Spanish Galleons that Thorpe raids on their way back from the New World. An adventure of a different sort confronts Thorpe when he inadvertently captures a Spanish ship that happens to be carrying the new Spanish Ambassador Don Jose Alvarez de Cordoba (Claude Rains),and his niece Dona Maria (Brenda Marshall) to England. What initially starts out as outrage at the injustice done to her by Dona Maria slowly turns to love as she sees Thorpe's humane side in rescueing the unfortunate slaves from the Spanish ship's galleys and in seeing to her comfort on the journey to England. Once in England after a superficial reprimand from the secretly pleased queen for the benefit of her Spanish guests, Thorpe and the other Sea Hawks press her about the seriousness of King Phillip of Spain's threat to England's security with the mighty Armada he is planning. Capt. Thorpe plans to attack the Spanish before they are ready to sail and with the Queen Elizabeth's un-official blessing secretly plans a voyage to the Carribean to raid more Spanish vessels to get more gold to help build England's defense fleet. He however doesn't count on English spy Lord Wolfingham who by underhanded means finds out about the voyage and warns the Spanish Ambassador of Thorpe's intent. Once the privateers are in Panama they are ambushed by the Spanish in a trap and sentenced to life imprisonment as galley slaves. All seems lost until Thorpe and his men orchestrate an escape plan which sees them get back to England. Aware that the Queen has been forced to put an arrest order on all Sea Hawks in England, Capt. Thorpe literally fights his way room by room to get to the Queen along the way duelling to the death with his enemy the traitorous Lord Wolfingham. Pardoned by the Queen the preparations to defend England from the growing threat of the Armada are put into place beginning with a rousing speech by the Queen about the need for the nation to be united as one in times of adversity."The Sea Hawk", is a stunning "A" class production despite it's strange absence of colour photography. It contains great work by Errol Flynn who is in turn rogueish and athletic on the high seas and then refined and subdued in the romantic and court scenes. The supporting cast is headed by "Flynn regular", Alan Hale in the role of Thorpe's offsider in adventure Mr. Pitt, and the lovely Brenda Marshall as Dona Maria who has just the right dark icy beauty to be perfect as the upright noblewoman who is melted by love for Capt. Thorpe. Claude Rains lends his usual excellent suport to the role of the Spanish Ambassador and Henry Daniell steals ever scene he is in as the traitor Lord Wolfingham. Flora Robson in a great performance also lends impressive support in the smaller role of Queen Elizabeth and delivers a totally convincing and balanced interpretation of this famous woman, at times stern and authoritian and at others almost playful and very human in her dealings with Thorpe. The "Sea Hawk", production christened the huge new sound stage at Warner's built to accomodate this huge production and two full sized galleons were constructed for the sea bound action scenes. With a huge budget of almost 2 million dollars the costumes, sets, and attention to historical detail are unsurpassed. Erich Wolfgang Korngold's sweeping Academy Award nominated musical score is one of the best in his distinguished career and really enhances the overall impact of the story. The recently restored "Sepia " sequence is also a highlight during the Panama scenes and it's murky quality really lends atmosphere to the hot swamp scenes when the men are being pursued by the Spainards and are dying of fatigue.For all lovers of swashbuckling adventures you need go no further than the Michael Curtiz directed pirate classic "The Sea Hawk". This film is certainly what the legend of Errol Flynn is all about and his obvious appeal to movie goers is very evident in his powerful screen charisma here. Many copies of "The Sea Hawk", have been made but none come close to it in great story telling, lively performances and beautiful production values. "The Sea Hawk", is classic Hollywood at its very best and is esential viewing for all classic movie lovers."
Best of the Flynn Swashbucklers
John A Lee III | San Antonio, TX | 11/27/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This was the last of the Errol Flynn swashbucklers that began with CAPTAIN BLOOD. In my mind, it is also the best of them.
Flynn plays captain Geoffrey Thorpe, an English privateer under the reign of Elizabeth I. His mission is the liberate Spanish treasure and English prisoners held as slaves on Spanish galleys and galleases. It anyone's guess which he prefers but the whole situation is sticky since England and Spain are not at war. The Armada is still a few years in the future. Many English seaman are sure that it is coming but are having trouble making Her Majesty believe it really will be used against England.
Court intrigue plays its part. One of the Queen's ministers is a traitor in the service of Spain. He is doing everything he can to thwart the work of the Sea Hawks, the privateers that serve in place of a navy. Claude Raines plays the Spanish ambassador and does a great job of playing something other than a one dimensional villain. He has his good points as well. One of these is his niece, played by Brenda Marshall. She is Flynn's love interest and is a nice replacement for Olivia DeHaviland. Alan Hale plays the sidekick as is obligatory in any Flynn movie.
All of the supporting cast is, however, just support. This film is a vehicle for Flynn to show off, be daring, get the girl and play the hero. He never takes himself too seriously and that just lends to the air of fun. He is a rakish and roguish character that everyone can appreciate.
One of the nice things about this one is that by the time it was made, Flynn had learned how to fence. The action sequences are some of the best he ever shot and the cinematography of them is splendid as well. The image of the two swordsmen slashing their way across the throne room as their shadows engage in the same but larger than life duel on the wall is one of the great scenes out of Hollywood.
This DVD has some nice extra features on it. It contains the original newsreel, cartoon and short subject that the original film were released with. It also has a nice restrospective of the SEA HAWK. It's a nice package all around. "
Strike for the shores!
Trevor Willsmer | London, England | 07/19/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Sea Hawk is the only picture to give The Adventures of Robin Hood a run for its money in the greatest adventure film of all time stakes. Sharing only the title with Warners enjoyable silent film and reusing the sets and costumes from The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex, it's a great example of the genius of the studio system in the days before packaging became a dirty word. Errol Flynn is at his very best here, whether he's capturing Spanish galleons in the English Channel, wooing Brenda Marshall or fighting off a quartet of palace guards to warn Queen Elizabeth of the impending Armada - he's the kind of guy every man wants to be and every woman just wants. And he's backed up by a strong array of talent - villainous Claude Rains and eternally snide and condescending Henry Daniell, sidekick Alan Hale, Flora Robson's haughty but playful Elizabeth, reliably decent Donald Crisp and a slew of other familiar faces all the way down to J.M. Kerrigan's shifty spy. Even the eternally irritating Una O'Connor is on her best behavior here.
And there's real talent behind the cameras too - Howard Koch and Seton I. Miller's unashamedly stirring screenplay, Sol Polito's great black and white photography, where every swordfight casts giant shadows, Anton Grot's far from grotty art direction, Michael Curtiz's vivid direction and, of course, Erich Wolfgang Korngold's greatest score (not to mention that song!). Warner's recent DVD release is a fine package, boasting the fully restored version (the obvious anti-Nazi parallels were removed for post-war reissues, reducing Donald Crisp's role to a mere extra) and the sepia tint to the Panama sequences.
Extras are good, although it is a shame that the terrific - and very different - silent version was not included as well."