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Great film as long as you realize that it is all fiction. History is much more interesting and intriguing than this film, but real life events would have been impossible to film -- hundreds of people, decades of action, and the eventual arrival of the Spanish Armada.
This is good fiction for 1940 and Flynn does his usual good job. Robson as Queen Elizabeth is a stand out, especially compared to the then-recent performance of Bette Davis as Queen Elizabeth, put out by the same studio -- Warners.
A meandering swashbuckler.
The Sea Hawk (1940) is Michael Curtiz's masterfully shot swashbuckling adventure film starring Errol Flynn. Curtiz creates excellent atmosphere and suspense in his high seas pirate adventure.
The sword fighting and ship combat is thrilling, while the romance is tender and interesting. The political drama is very slow, but intriguing enough.
Unfortunately, The Sea Hawk goes from blistering start to a dull middle, into a fierce finale. The uncut version adds over 20 unnecessary minutes to the middle of the film in oddly sepia toned jungle trekking. This is extremely strange as the majority of The Sea Hawk is in black and white. If you can, just watch the theatrical version as it is far superior to the extended edition of The Sea Hawk. All the action and enjoyment is already there in the original version of The Sea Hawk.
The score from Erich Wolfgang Korngold is beautiful and boisterous. Korngold allows for gentle romance in his dramatic sections and fiery excitement in his action scoring. The melodies are fast paced and add a sense of wonder to The Sea Hawk.
Errol Flynn is remarkable at captivating you with his charm, wit, and skill. He was better in Curtiz' better films Captain Blood and The Adventures of Robin Hood, but The Sea Hawk is cool and entertaining in its own fashion.
Claude Rains and Henry Daniell are excellent as their stuffy English lords under Elizabeth's court. They perfectly fit their characters. Flora Robson is gripping as Queen Elizabeth I. She commands respect and authority with her undeniable presence.
Brenda Marshall is a pretty love interest for Flynn, but her character is fairly flat. She is unhappy with Flynn, then suddenly madly in love with him. It's a bit ridiculous. At least, Brenda Marshall has adequate chemistry with Errol Flynn. Their romance on screen is sweet.
Sol Polito's cinematography is fascinating and highlights suspenseful moments and endearing ones alike. From reflections in a goblet of wine revealing mutineers to an opening wide shot of a vast garden to introduce Flynn's budding romance.
In short, The Sea Hawk is just too long. The opening sea combat is great as is the initial political scenes, but the slave sequences take forever to get back to anything interesting to watch. Captain Blood did this type of swashbuckling story better with Errol Flynn years earlier. Some of the writing has aged poorly and feels silly, but most audiences should find enjoyment for the nicer qualities The Sea Hawk has to offer.
The best thrilling movie ever made! With the best movie character ever portrayed: Errol Flynn as Geoffrey Thorpe! And the best movie score ever composed!
The neverendign battle for British Freedom !
A fantastic Errol Flynn movie.
Errol Flynn is a ridiculously charming protagonist, and any of these swashbuckling adventures that he stars in are instantly going to be a treat. One of the problems with The Sea Hawk, though, is that it is frontloaded with one of the most impressive fight sequences I’ve seen. The big ships colliding, the leaping and swinging around from one ship to the next, and the sword-fighting is all remarkable. I can’t imagine the amount of effort that went into that one sequence. While there are a few enjoyable fights after this one, none of them are quite as awe-inspiring. The Sea Hawk is a story that I thought I was going to be able to predict after the first few scenes. It seemed pretty obvious which way things were going, but it was nice to see that they were able to surprise me. The sequence in Central America was unexpected, and I love that they used some different filters on the black-and-white image to make it look distinct from everything else. There were probably a few too many scenes of people just talking about their plans, which I feel could have been trimmed down, but the action was exciting enough to make it worth the wait. I am glad I’ve seen The Sea Hawk, but it’s not one of the best in a genre that contains some of my favorite films.
Another rousing swashbuckler from director Michael Curtiz and starring Errol Flynn. This time Flynn is a pirate captain working for Queen Elizabeth I, plundering Spanish ships and freeing the galley slaves that have been entrapped by the Inquisition. At his side is Alan Hale and others who may be familiar from earlier similar pictures. However, The Sea Hawk is a slight notch down from Captain Blood (1935) or especially Robin Hood (1938) because Brenda Marshall makes a duller love interest than Olivia de Havilland (Flynn's usual starring partner) and Henry Daniell is wicked but not quite as wicked as Basil Rathbone. Both of these stellar co-stars turned this picture down to seek different horizons. Claude Rains is here but with little to do. Still there is no denying the thrilling adventure scenes, often shot in the giant Maritime soundstage at Warner Brothers where giant sailing ships battle each other and men leap from one to the other cutlasses drawn. Erich Wolfgang Korngold's score undoubtedly adds to the effect.
The Sea Hawk is a fabulous spectacle of a Curtiz/Flynn swashbuckling picture that stays rousing and fun through its whole duration. It's the kind of film that makes you wish the studio system was still a thing.
A good all around action romantic Flynn flick.
Movies made the way we or I would like them to be now.