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Captain Blood or the Sea Hawk


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Okay this is kind of a silly post but I can't decide between these two movies and I wanted to see what others felt. :)

 

You see it is easy for me to love Adventures of Robin Hood best because it has Olivia, Claude Rains, & Basil Rathbone plus a lot of other great character actors.

 

But The Sea Hawk and Captain Blood are both missing some of these elements

 

Captain Blood has Olivia & Basil but is missing Claude Rains

The Sea Hawk has Claude Rains but is missing Olivia and Basil

 

How do I decide between them? Everything else about the movies are pretty much equal to me.

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To further compilcate things, "Sea Hawk" also has Alan Hale , Henry Daniell, and Donald Crisp. But in the all important female lead Olivia beats Brenda Marshall in a landslide. And Basil Rathbone in a duel beats any substitute. I gotta' go with Captain Blood.

 

Edited by: mrroberts on Jan 25, 2011 2:57 PM

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> {quote:title=Kinokima wrote:}{quote}

> Okay this is kind of a silly post but I can't decide between these two movies and I wanted to see what others felt. :)

>

> How do I decide between them? Everything else about the movies are pretty much equal to me.

>

I one HAD TO choose only one, I'd go with "Captain Blood" but fortunately you can see both. So my recommendation is:

See them both!

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Errol?s acting is much better in The Sea Hawk. He really grew in his craft and confidence in the five years between the films. The ending swordfight was longer that in Captain Blood but I agree Basil Rathbone was a much more exciting opponent. I missed seeing him tumble off the stairway as he did in Robin Hood.

 

Plot wise, I also like The Sea Hawk better. Both are in my Flynn collection and get watched.

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I enjoy *The Sea Hawk* (it might be the music) more than *Captain Blood* though both are entertaining to watch.

 

Just don't watch them back to back or you will see the same stock footage of the ship battles in both films.

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CAPTAIN BLOOD has a stronger story, but THE SEA HAWK is the better, more polished film.

 

It can even be argued that THE SEA HAWK is a better film than THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, but ROBIN HOOD is far more heart-felt: it engages the emotions to an extent that THE SEA HAWK does not (it also helps that the earlier film is, frankly, the perfect fairy-tale, one that Hollywood has never bettered). This also holds true of Erich Wolfgang Korngold's scores for the two films: THE SEA HAWK is more virtuosic, perhaps Korngold's crowning cinematic achievement, but less touching.

 

A more interesting comparison is between CAPTAIN BLOOD and THE SEA HAWK and Fox's THE BLACK SWAN (all nominally adapted from novels by Rafael Sabatini, though THE SEA HAWK was from a largely original story, "Beggars of the Sea," by Warner's staff writer Howard Koch).

 

Like ROBIN HOOD, CAPTAIN BLOOD and THE SEA HAWK are, at their core, about what most Warner Bros. swashbucklers are about: fights against tyranny. It's what makes them involving and timeless, always available as allegories for modern political situations and struggles. By contrast, THE BLACK SWAN is about....(no, not ballerinas) pirates being pirates. For all its technical polish and pretty Technicolor, it concerns nothing bigger than a bunch of loutish, self-indulgent men trying to get rich. It doesn't even have the right villain. The film isn't as well remembered as its Warner's counterparts, and doesn't deserve to be, but it does point to the proclivities and priorities of two different studios at their height of their powers.

 

What is hard to fathom is how Fox, a studio that invested heavily in socially-conscious filmmaking with movies like THE GRAPES OF WRATH, THE OX-BOW INCIDENT, HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY, THE SNAKE PIT and PINKY, could fail to find the deeper underpinnings in swashbucklers that was seemingly in Warner's very DNA.

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Although I can acknowledge that The Sea Hawk is the technically superior film, I have a special affection for Captain Blood, and even think that those aspects that are somewhat cruder in production values give it some of its charm. I find the opening and plot exposition scenes in The Sea Hawk a bit boring and the jungle sequence overlong, although beautifully shot. Nevertheless, The Sea Hawk is a great example of Warners' at its best in production values, casting, and direction.

 

I really miss Olivia in The Sea Hawk. There's nothing like the chemistry of two actors who are obviously attracted to each other in a star-making performance, which is what we get between Errol and Olivia in Captain Blood. Rathbone in Captain Blood with his campy fake French accent and excellent swordsmanship is a better villain than smarmy Henry Daniell. Hate to go to the sex appeal thing, but Captain Blood is a sexier story, maybe on the edge of the old precode days -- two guys duking it out over a woman's virtue? A handsome guy being bought by a spoiled and lovely rich girl at a slave auction? How can I resist?

 

But The Adventures of Robin Hood beats them both -- a perfect cast, perfect score, well-told version of a familiar story, gorgeous technicolor. You can't beat that cast -- Rathbone, Rains, Hale, Knowles, Palette, O'Connor, all the way down to little Herbert Mundin. I have to watch this one at least once a year or I feel depressed. Robin Hood is also economical film-making. There isn't a wasted scene or bit of dialogue -- fast-moving, witty, and socially conscious. All the action scenes are brilliant. And the chemistry between Errol and Olivia -- wow! That kissing scene could have gone on another 10 minutes as far as I'm concerned.

 

BTW, I see Captain Blood as a forerunner to Robin Hood, since Blood ends up working for rebellion against the English government. Blood's "pirate code" ends up as a kind of an early union offering employees benefits -- taking care of wounded and disabled crew members financially, splitting up the spoils in an equitable fashion, etc. Blood doesn't repent and return until the government changes. It's a real Depression film, just in costume. In The Sea Hawk, the pirates, who are really privateers, are basically working for the English government under Queen Elizabeth. It's more a defense of patriotism against tyranny, which is even more obvious in the uncut versions with the patriotic speeches at the end.

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> {quote:title=rosebette wrote:}{quote}

>Rathbone in Captain Blood with his campy fake French accent and excellent swordsmanship is a better villain than smarmy Henry Daniell. Hate to go to the sex appeal thing, but Captain Blood is a sexier story, maybe on the edge of the old precode days -- two guys duking it out over a woman's virtue? A handsome guy being bought by a spoiled and lovely rich girl at a slave auction? How can I resist?

 

You must remember that Rathbone's Capitaine Levasseur isn't the villain of the piece, but only one more obstacle -- albeit a serious, life-threatening one -- standing between Peter Blood and Arabella Bishop's finding happiness together. The real villain is the British Crown under James I, as represented by his loyal subject, Arabella's uncle, Col. Bishop.

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So true, but Rathbone is just one more element to add spice to the story. And your point certainly supports that the theme of Captain Blood is rebellion, like Robin Hood. The theme of the The Sea Hawk is about patriotism and bravery against a foreign enemy, more fitting to the early WWII era.

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> {quote:title=Kinokima wrote:}{quote}

> Okay this is kind of a silly post but I can't decide between these two movies and I wanted to see what others felt. :)

 

How about making a 3-hour version by splicing different parts of these films together? We can intermix scenes from one with scenes from the other. He would have two girlfriends in the resulting ?epic?.

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SEA HAWK is my favorite adventure film. The plot, direct and simple, has all the time honored elements. Hero mistaken for outlaw (Spider-man! Spider-man!), captivity and escape, final confrontation. It's exceptionally well written, even better than "Robin Hood." The characters of Geoffrey Thorpe and his men are fun and clearly defined. Thorpe's relationship with the queen, believable or not, is cute and intriguing.

 

I like CAPTAIN BLOOD. Like "Robin Hood" and the Curtiz/Flynn westerns. But this practically perfect swashbuckler beats them all.

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I find Brenda Marshall in The Sea Hawk beautiful, but a bit wooden, lacking the warmth and chemistry of Olivia. I think The Sea Hawk works well in B&W, though, probably one of the better examples of black and white cinematography of the era. Isn't there some tinting in the jungle scenes?

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> {quote:title=Kinokima wrote:}{quote}

> Captain Blood has Olivia & Basil but is missing Claude Rains

> The Sea Hawk has Claude Rains but is missing Olivia and Basil

>

> How do I decide between them? Everything else about the movies are pretty much equal to me.

 

*Captain Blood* is my favorite Flynn film, and my favorite swashbuckler, period. Flynn seems so fresh and energetic. It has loads of great character actors, like J. Carrol Naish, Guy Kibbie, Ross Alexander, Robert Barrat, and many more.

 

I love many elements of the film, like the fact that Dr. Blood is suspected of being a revolutionary, and isn't, but becomes one, because of his treatment.

 

I love his 'trial," where he is not allowed to produce witnesses, even though it is a capital case. To prove he is a doctor, he diagnoses the Lord who sits in judgment of him, thus making the judge a witness!

 

I love the pirate compact, with its payments for the loss of various body parts.

 

I love the two slave buying scenes, one where Blood is bought, and one where Arabella is 'bought,' and the sword fight that follows.

 

I love the ubiquitous Rev. Ogle who regularly interjects bits of scripture, as a timely warning.

 

I love the scene where Col. Bishop comes aboard the pirate ship, after Blood and his men have taken it.

 

I could go on and on, but you get the idea. *Captain Blood* is so alive, and so much fun, and has sort of a seat-of-the-pants feel to it.

 

*The Sea Hawk* is a fine film, but to me, pales by comparison. More of a historical epic, less fun.

 

*The Adventures of Robin Hood* is doubtless one of the best swashbucklers of all time, and I love it, too. But, it is a lavish color spectacle, very produced, while *Captain Blood* is gritty, which I prefer. But, hey, there is no reason at all not to see all three. And, add *The Adventures of Don Juan*. Even though it isn't as great as the other three, it's still an enjoyable Flynn swashbuckler.

 

Edited by: ValentineXavier on Jan 30, 2011 1:18 AM

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I just want to say I have seen all 3. As I said this was a silly post and I really wanted to hear what people liked better Sea Hawk or Captain Blood. I am still not 100% sure myself (although I am leaning a little towards Captain Blood at the moment) but I loved reading everyone's responses so far.

 

One thing that I will say that I like about Sea Hawk is I expected Rains' character to be the straight bad guy at first but there is definitely much more to his character. If only Rains was in Captain Blood then my decision would be easy. :)

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Maybe this is a silly post, but as a New Englander, pleasant thoughts of Errol, adventure, and romance are one way to beat the winter blues! If TCM ran a marathon of those flicks right now, I'd be happily in my PJs with a pile of snacks under a down comforter, parked in front of the set.

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> {quote:title=rosebette wrote:}{quote}

> Maybe this is a silly post, but as a New Englander, pleasant thoughts of Errol, adventure, and romance are one way to beat the winter blues! If TCM ran a marathon of those flicks right now, I'd be happily in my PJs with a pile of snacks under a down comforter, parked in front of the set.

 

 

I definitely wouldn't be opposed to that :)

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I agree with you 100% about Captain Blood. This is my favorite adventure movie and the one that made me fall in love with Olivia. I often go to the spot where Flynn kills Basil right here in Laguna Beach.

 

The movie has everything. Of course those other movies are very good also but they don't hit me like Captain Blood does.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Yes there is some sepia coloring in the Panamanian jungle, possibly to denote the heat and humidity of the area. I find CAPTAIN BLOOD to be the better actioner. The film is a bit shorter, consequently the story and action is very tight. Curtiz was a very fine and economic director.THE SEA HAWK is a longer, more complicated film and denotes an era somewhat earlier than that of CAPTAIN BLOOD, but that is beside the point.Brenda Marshall is no Olivia DeHavilland. Flora Robson is a great Queen Elizabeth. I have the somewhat longer British version with Robson rallying the troops as it were, reminding all that England was at war while this film was being shot. It's an interesting addendum but not crucial to the appreciation of the film.Best, BG.

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The Flynn version of THE SEAHAWK is not the first filmed version..A silent was shot around the transition to sound and some of the battle scenes in the Flynn film were culled from the earlier work, thereby saving some money for some other purposes, possibly to stay in the bank. This economy does not detract from a very enjoyable film. The novel, by Rafael Sabatini, is quite different from the Warner film. Completely different script etc.Interestingly(for myself at least) I bought a copy of the SEAHAWK at a flea market some years ago and was surprised to discover it had many black and white photographs from the oriiginal silent film starring Warner Baxter. Best,BG.

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I think that as far as which one is better (not a good word to use because it's so subjective) from a technical standpoint I would go with The Sea Hawk...

 

Speaking from an artistic standpoint I have to go with Captain Blood...

 

However neither of them come close to the technical and artistic quality of The Adventures of Robin Hood...

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