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Captain Blood the best


slaytonf
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We have been, and will continue to be, this month, regaled with a cornucopia of pirate movies.  And while many great stars, directors, and other talents, like Lancaster, Power, Curtiz, Laughton, Walsh, and eve Flynn himself, made other attempts at the genre, no onther move quiet achieved the spirit, liveliness, swep, and swashbuckle of this one.  For me, it's the only pirate movie I enjoy watching.  Why?  I can't say.  Maybe people can identify what's in this movie that isn't in others.  Or not in the same amounts. One thing I can say is the story by Rafael Sabatini plays a big part.  He's the best adventure writer I know.

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We have been, and will continue to be, this month, regaled with a cornucopia of pirate movies.  And while many great stars, directors, and other talents, like Lancaster, Power, Curtiz, Laughton, Walsh, and eve Flynn himself, made other attempts at the genre, no onther move quiet achieved the spirit, liveliness, swep, and swashbuckle of this one.  For me, it's the only pirate movie I enjoy watching.  Why?  I can't say.  Maybe people can identify what's in this movie that isn't in others.  Or not in the same amounts. One thing I can say is the story by Rafael Sabatini plays a big part.  He's the best adventure writer I know.

There are a lot of reasons to like Captain Blood. One of them is that Warners grittiness to the production and, in the time honoured tradition of this studio dating back to The Public Enemy and I Am A Fugitive, it adheres to a pattern of sympathizing with the oppressed of society. That even applied to "light" escapist fare of this nature.

 

There's the sweep and dramatic flare that director Curtiz brought to a production of this nature that few other directors ever matched (this would, arguably, be even surpassed by this same director when he was back on the high seas again with Flynn in The Sea Hawk). Speaking of Flynn, neophyte actor that he was when he made this film, he still inhabits the role of a 16th Century pirate in a manner that few other actors could hope to emulate. That, balanced with the remarkable screen chemistry that he had with a young but divinely charming Olivia de Havilland, these two brought a fairy tale aura of romance to this buccaneering tale that has survived the years intact.

 

The music by Korngold, a template for later and even greater orchestrations by this same composer (his work for The Sea Hawk is simply stunning) helped to bring a final finished touch to this memorable adventure tale. It's a film that both children and adults can enjoy in equal measure, I feel, not unlike the best of all movie fairy tales. As I stated at the beginning, however, this is a fairy tale with more grit to it than many, the often expressionistic photography and effects owing much to the masters of German silent cinema.

 

Captain Blood is undoubtedly a gem, but please don't overlook that other Flynn pirate jewel on tonight, The Sea Hawk. As the screen incarnation of romance, elegance and athletic bearing, Errol Flynn was truly at the peak of his career when he made that 1940 effort, as was director Curtiz.

 

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We have been, and will continue to be, this month, regaled with a cornucopia of pirate movies.  And while many great stars, directors, and other talents, like Lancaster, Power, Curtiz, Laughton, Walsh, and eve Flynn himself, made other attempts at the genre, no onther move quiet achieved the spirit, liveliness, swep, and swashbuckle of this one.  For me, it's the only pirate movie I enjoy watching.  Why?  I can't say.  Maybe people can identify what's in this movie that isn't in others.  Or not in the same amounts. One thing I can say is the story by Rafael Sabatini plays a big part.  He's the best adventure writer I know.

I will agree. It's a bit primitive (production-wise) and Errol's acting is not all the way refined yet, but he gives a sincere performance in both CAPTAIN BLOOD and THE SEA HAWK. I watched AGAINST ALL FLAGS earlier, and I really enjoy Maureen's work in it as well as Anthony Quinn's, but I felt that Errol's line readings are too depraved and he's obviously intoxicated and lucky he can remember his dialogue and blocking. I much more prefer his early work at Warners.

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 I watched AGAINST ALL FLAGS earlier, and I really enjoy Maureen's work in it as well as Anthony Quinn's, but I felt that Errol's line readings are too depraved and he's obviously intoxicated and lucky he can remember his dialogue and blocking. I much more prefer his early work at Warners.

 

No doubt.  It was more than twenty years since his work on Captain Blood.  You can certainly se the effects his life had on his body and acting.  Definitely not the same crispness or energy.

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Maureen O'Hara is, indeed, fun to watch in Against All Flags. Her vibrant performance could be considered to be the brightest thing about this run-of-the-mill swashbuckler.

 

Errol Flynn's line delivery is neither depraved (depraved? What kind of over-the-top word is that to use?) nor does he look "obviously intoxicated" in his scenes on screen, as a previous poster said.

 

However, it's apparent by his appearance that his self destructive lifestyle had caught up with him and he gives a tired performance, showing few signs of the sparkling personality that had once so dazzled film audiences.

 

Flynn would, however, get himself into reasonable fighting trim for his very next film, Master of Ballantrae. While his energy level would never again be what it once had been, Flynn gives a more concentrated, satisfactory performance in Master than he had in Flags. Unlike Flags, a soundstage-bound production, Master would further benefit from director William Keighley's brisk pace, some glorious on location photography by Jack Cardiff, and strong character support from Roger Livesey, among others. Flynn (and his stunt double) also participate in three well choreographed screen duels in Master, all adding up to a very flavoursome costume adventure, in my opinion, even if it can't compete with Flynn's most famous genre productions of the past.

 

Errol-Flynn-in-the-1953-f-001.jpg

 

Master of Ballantrae. Flynn's energy and light heartedness was, sadly, gone by this time, but, physically, he got himself into the best on-screen shape in some time, and he was still convincing with a sword in his hand. He gives a good performance in this one.

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Errol Flynn's line delivery is neither depraved (depraved? What kind of over-the-top word is that to use?) nor does he look "obviously intoxicated" in his scenes on screen, as a previous poster said.

 

 

Kindly please stop referencing my posts in such an obnoxious fashion. His delivery is depraved and he is so inebriated in some shots that it looks like he is having a stroke, waiting for his brain to get back up to speed.  It's a painful and embarrassing performance to watch on screen. Fortunately, he looks and acts better in BALLANTRAE.

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His delivery is depraved and he is so inebriated in some shots that it looks like he is having a stroke, waiting for his brain to get back up to speed. It's a painful and embarrassing performance to watch on screen.

 

With rhetoric like that, I guess I have been put completely in my place for suggesting that any comment by that poster could be viewed as over-the-top. Wonderful to see so much objectivity in an appraisal of a screen performance.

 

 

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His delivery is depraved and he is so inebriated in some shots that it looks like he is having a stroke, waiting for his brain to get back up to speed. It's a painful and embarrassing performance to watch on screen.

 

With rhetoric like that, I guess I have been put completely in my place for suggesting that any comment by that poster could be viewed as over-the-top. Wonderful to see so much objectivity in an appraisal of a screen performance.

^Another snarky comment.  Poster needs better manners.

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TomJH:   Keep up the good work!     I welcome you POV.

Thanks, James. I know you're a big fan of Olivia, therefore have seen so much of Flynn's work, as well.

 

They really were a magical pair on screen, and that magic was so apparent in their first venture together, Captain Blood.

 

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.

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I was hoping there would be a post on the back-to-back Flynn pirate fest.  I had seen Against All Flags only once before, as a teen, and was rather turned off by the older and more tired-looking Flynn.  Now that I'm an old broad, I think he looks pretty good, not what he was, but there is still something irresistably watchable about him, and he has good chemistry with Maureen O'Hara.  He still has a way with a line (and there were a number of comic ones and double entendres) that is enviable. The production values are pretty poor.  It's interesting to watch Captain Blood afterwards, where there were also more limited resources in terms of sets, etc., but what a great director like Curtiz can do with lighting, set-up, etc.  Captain Blood is my favorite Flynn pirate movie, although without a doubt, The Sea Hawk is probably a better-made film.  As I watched the early scenes of Captain Blood, all I could think was, "Wow, he was really good."  Even in the courtroom scene, he comes across, and the archaic dialogue trips easily from his tongue.  People alway criticized him as an actor, but what 26-year-old could say some of those lines and be completely believable? Also, Captain Blood is a better story, I think.  It's about a young man's journey from indifference to rebellion and even outlawry, and then back to morality.  What surprised me on this viewing is that he is a fully developed character who changes, makes mistakes (that deal with Levasseur -- and oh, 10 minutes of delightfully hammy Rathbone is worth an hour and a half of Anthony Quinn), sometimes behaves badly (with Olivia), feels compassion, anger, sadness, love.  The deHavilland character is a spoiled brat who also changes, and the chemistry between them is dynamite.  The Sea Hawk is a beautiful film, but it's really just the dashing, handsome hero being noble, serving his queen.  The production values are outstanding, but there's a gritty freshness to Captain Blood that I find infinitely watchable.

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I was hoping there would be a post on the back-to-back Flynn pirate fest.  I had seen Against All Flags only once before, as a teen, and was rather turned off by the older and more tired-looking Flynn.  Now that I'm an old broad, I think he looks pretty good, not what he was, but there is still something irresistably watchable about him, and he has good chemistry with Maureen O'Hara.  He still has a way with a line (and there were a number of comic ones and double entendres) that is enviable. The production values are pretty poor.  It's interesting to watch Captain Blood afterwards, where there were also more limited resources in terms of sets, etc., but what a great director like Curtiz can do with lighting, set-up, etc.  Captain Blood is my favorite Flynn pirate movie, although without a doubt, The Sea Hawk is probably a better-made film.  As I watched the early scenes of Captain Blood, all I could think was, "Wow, he was really good."  Even in the courtroom scene, he comes across, and the archaic dialogue trips easily from his tongue.  People alway criticized him as an actor, but what 26-year-old could say some of those lines and be completely believable? Also, Captain Blood is a better story, I think.  It's about a young man's journey from indifference to rebellion and even outlawry, and then back to morality.  What surprised me on this viewing is that he is a fully developed character who changes, makes mistakes (that deal with Levasseur -- and oh, 10 minutes of delightfully hammy Rathbone is worth an hour and a half of Anthony Quinn), sometimes behaves badly (with Olivia), feels compassion, anger, sadness, love.  The deHavilland character is a spoiled brat who also changes, and the chemistry between them is dynamite.  The Sea Hawk is a beautiful film, but it's really just the dashing, handsome hero being noble, serving his queen.  The production values are outstanding, but there's a gritty freshness to Captain Blood that I find infinitely watchable.

 

Well said!    Captain Blood is also my favorite pirate movie and just maybe my favorite adventure movie (but ask me next week and I might say Robin Hood).

 

Either way,   Errol and Olivia were a great team and with that WB studio system behind them they made magic.

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 As I watched the early scenes of Captain Blood, all I could think was, "Wow, he was really good."  Even in the courtroom scene, he comes across, and the archaic dialogue trips easily from his tongue.  People alway criticized him as an actor, but what 26-year-old could say some of those lines and be completely believable?

 

I was thinking the same thing. He was criticized then and now for not being a good actor, but I don't know what people who say that are talking about. He brings his character to life in CAPTAIN BLOOD and makes that dialogue sound like real speech.

Yes, he is one of the best-looking male movie stars of all-time ---  but in CAPTAIN BLOOD it is not only his good looks that he brings to this performance.  

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I was hoping there would be a post on the back-to-back Flynn pirate fest.  I had seen Against All Flags only once before, as a teen, and was rather turned off by the older and more tired-looking Flynn.  Now that I'm an old broad, I think he looks pretty good, not what he was, but there is still something irresistably watchable about him, and he has good chemistry with Maureen O'Hara.  He still has a way with a line (and there were a number of comic ones and double entendres) that is enviable. The production values are pretty poor.  It's interesting to watch Captain Blood afterwards, where there were also more limited resources in terms of sets, etc., but what a great director like Curtiz can do with lighting, set-up, etc.  Captain Blood is my favorite Flynn pirate movie, although without a doubt, The Sea Hawk is probably a better-made film.  As I watched the early scenes of Captain Blood, all I could think was, "Wow, he was really good."  Even in the courtroom scene, he comes across, and the archaic dialogue trips easily from his tongue.  People alway criticized him as an actor, but what 26-year-old could say some of those lines and be completely believable? Also, Captain Blood is a better story, I think.  It's about a young man's journey from indifference to rebellion and even outlawry, and then back to morality.  What surprised me on this viewing is that he is a fully developed character who changes, makes mistakes (that deal with Levasseur -- and oh, 10 minutes of delightfully hammy Rathbone is worth an hour and a half of Anthony Quinn), sometimes behaves badly (with Olivia), feels compassion, anger, sadness, love.  The deHavilland character is a spoiled brat who also changes, and the chemistry between them is dynamite.  The Sea Hawk is a beautiful film, but it's really just the dashing, handsome hero being noble, serving his queen.  The production values are outstanding, but there's a gritty freshness to Captain Blood that I find infinitely watchable.

Lovely to read your sensitive, intelligent appraisal, rosebette.

 

Keep in mind, too, that Maureen O'Hara became very fond of Flynn while making Against All Flags, as is reflected in her autobiography, even though their initial meeting a decade before or so had been a rocky one. She later regretted the fact that, while on location filming Our Man in Havana she had not followed through on Errol's invitation to join him at his Jamaican home, since the actor would be dead soon afterward.

 

Years ago, when O'Hara appeared on a late night show (I believe it was Tom Snyder) for an interview, when the station opened up for questions to the actress from its viewers, the first question asked of O'Hara was what it had been like to work with Errol Flynn. Not John Wayne, mind you, but Errol Flynn. I can't remember the lady's entire response (she did refer to his drinking at the time) but she spoke of him with obvious affection. A year or two ago, when O'Hara played hostess to a festival in her own name in Ireland, The Adventures of Robin Hood was one of the films that they elected to show of old Hollywood.

 

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Looks like Flynn and O'Hara were having some fun while filming the tide stakes scene in Against All Flags

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 As I watched the early scenes of Captain Blood, all I could think was, "Wow, he was really good."  Even in the courtroom scene, he comes across, and the archaic dialogue trips easily from his tongue.  People alway criticized him as an actor, but what 26-year-old could say some of those lines and be completely believable?

I've always regarded that courtroom scene, ending with Blood's words to the judge, "What a creature must sit on the throne who allows a man like you to deal out his justice for him," as one of Flynn's very best in the entire film.

 

And, for that, I've always had a private thanks to Mike Curtiz for bringing it out in this inexperienced actor. Flynn looks convincingly tense in this scene, probably a reflection of the pressure that the director was placing upon him at the time. Flynn despised Curtiz so much as a man, but I wonder if he ever stopped to think of how much he owed to the son of a b i t c h.

 

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So Tom. Are you implying here that what Errol was probably REALLY thinking when he spouted that classic line of dialogue was:

 

"What a creature Jack Warner must be for him to allow a creature like Michael Curtiz to direct me here!"

 

(...and so perhaps "method acting" DOES go back further than when Brando first hit it big, EH?!) ;)

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So Tom. Are you implying here that what Errol was probably REALLY thinking when he spouted that classic line of dialogue was:

 

"What a creature Jack Warner must be for him to allow a creature like Michael Curtiz to direct me here!"

 

 

Now THAT'S funny, Dargo. (And, quite frankly, pretty darned Flynn insightful too).

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I also watched a good part of it last night (have seen it many times) and have to say the action scenes are still compelling and brilliant- even if they are a piecemeal of footage from 1935 combined with silent film stock- it works. Captain Blood is an example of a really well directed film; and it is notable that Michael Curtiz placed second in the Oscarrace for Best Director in 1935- based completely on write-in votes for him. That never happened before and I don't think it has happened since.

 

For anyone interested, and I admit that it has been years and years since, but I did read the book by Rafael Sabatini that Captain Blood is based on and really liked it quite a bit (maybe even better than the movie.)

 

It's a great summer read and is apparently back in print in a Penguin Edition which can be ordered on amazon, heck, maybe even downloaded on a kindle.

 

Highly recommended.

 

(I'd attach the link to the amazon page but that seems to "freak out" this new message board system.)

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For anyone interested, and I admit that it has been years and years since, but I did read the book by Rafael Sabatini that Captain Blood is based on and really liked it quite a bit (maybe even better than the movie.)

 

It's a great summer read and is apparently back in print in a Penguin Edition which can be ordered on amazon, heck, maybe even downloaded on a kindle.

 

Highly recommended.

 

Thanks for the recommendation, Lorna. I've had the book in my home for years without ever opening its cover. I just found it again now and knocked some dust off it. I think it's time that I introduced myself to Mr. Sabatini.

 

Actually, that's not quite true. Years ago I did read his Scaramouche, which I enjoyed. "He was born with a gift for laughter and a sense that the world was mad" - one of my favourite opening lines of any novel.

 

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This is the cover of the version I have. Ah, soon I shall be reading a swashbuckling tale of oppression and revenge.

 

Note: Errol Flynn was a voracious reader. I wonder if he ever opened the covers of the novel that lead to his becoming a star. I have to think that he probably did.

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I like Flynn's early swashbucklers very much, but I think my favorite Flynn role is in The Sisters. He's billed over Bette Davis, even though it's really her film. And he has no mustache!

::swoon time:: He looks amazing without his mustache.  He's one of the few actors who looks good with or without it.  Some actors, like William Powell, for example, need the mustache.  Captain Blood, while an excellent film and one that I enjoy very much, doesn't quite provide the hunky Errol Flynn factor (for me, anyway.  Don't get me wrong, he's still handsome).  I think he looks best in the scene when Olivia deHavilland is buying him as her slave.  At 10 pounds, she got quite the bargain ;-)  I think it's the wig that doesn't do anything for me. 

 

I think The Sea Hawk is my favorite between Captain Blood and The Sea Hawk.  I haven't watched Against All Flags and Master of Ballantrae yet.  But I recorded them and just settled in for the night to watch my Errol Flynn pirate movie marathon.  First up, Captain Blood.  I was out celebrating my birthday with coworkers last night, so I wasn't able to watch the marathon last night-- so I'm making my own marathon tonight.  Happy Birthday to me!

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