Now for the first part of a seafaring double-feature, we have the 1940 film The Sea Hawk, starring Errol Flynn.
King Phillip II (Montagu Love) of Spain has ambitions to rule the world, but England stands in his way. He sends the Spanish ambassador (Claude Rains) and his niece (Brenda Marshall) to England in a gesture of friendship while he builds the Spanish armada. However, on the trip over, they run into English privateer Captain Geoffrey Thorpe (Errol Flynn), who destroys their ship in self-defense. He gives them passage to England. In public, Queen Elizabeth (Flora Robson) reprimands him, but in private, he convinces her to let him and his crew go to Panama to steal a shipment of gold intended for the Spanish. The Spanish ambassador and the traitorous Lord Wolfingham (Henry Daniell) get wind of this, and send some men ahead of him. In Panama, Captain Thorpe and his men are either captured or killed. The survivors are sentenced to be galley slaves on Spanish ships. When they find plans for the Spanish armada, they must escape and get those plans to the queen.
I think that this is a fun pirate movie. Admittedly, not a traditional “pirate” movie, as there is nobody with eye patches or peg legs, nobody says “aargh” or other well-known pirate phrases. However, we do have a good ship battle to start the movie off (no CGI here)! One thing I should mention is that this is a mostly black and white movie, with the Panama section done in sepia (like the non-color sections of The Wizard Of Oz), apparently to help suggest how hot it was supposed to be there. However you want to look at it, this is a movie that I enjoyed very much and would eagerly recommend it as one of the best pirate movies!
Originally released in 1940, the movie proved quite successful. The movie was reissued again in 1947 as part of a double-feature with the similarly titled (and also directed by Michael Curtiz) The Sea Wolf. However, due to length, both films were shortened, mainly from the original camera negatives, leaving only the shortened versions of either film available for the longest time. In the 1980s, Warner Brothers was able to restore the missing sections to The Sea Hawk. The restored sections were apparently from lesser elements, so they don’t look quite as good as the rest of the movie. The recent release on Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection has done a marvelous job of restoring the movie. I’m not familiar enough with the movie to know what moments were cut, but I can see some moments that don’t look quite as good. However, I think that they look as good as they can, and I consider this release to be one of the best classic film restorations to come out on disc in 2018 (personally, I would give the edge to Warner Archive Collection’s June release of Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, but this one ranks up there, just the same)! So, yes, I do highly recommend this movie!
This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Archive Collection and is two hours, seven minutes in length.
My Rating: 10/10
*ranked #2 on Top 10 Disc Releases of 2018
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