The adventures of Oliver Tressilian, who goes from English gentry to galley slave to captain of a Moorish fighting ship, all the while trying to regain his lady love. Follows the novel, ... See full summary »
The adventures of Oliver Tressilian, who goes from English gentry to galley slave to captain of a Moorish fighting ship, all the while trying to regain his lady love. Follows the novel, unlike the 1940 movie of the same name. Written by
Robert Tonsing <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A brave English knight, betrayed by his brother, kidnapped by pirates, and captured by Spaniards, takes up a new identity under the Moors as 'Sakr-el-Bahr,' -the Sea Hawk - to become the scourge & terror of the Spanish navy near Gibraltar.
Although sadly neglected for years, this is a splendid swashbuckler, full of action & romance, which should please the fans of silent cinema adventure. Much more faithful to Rafael Sabatini's original novel than the Errol Flynn 1940 version, this is a film which can stand on its own worthy merits. Given excellent production values by First National, the rousing sea battle sequences are especially worthy of mention. Using full scale ships, they possess an aura of authenticity not possible with models. Indeed, some of these nautical scenes were extracted for years for use in other films.
Milton Sills gives a grand performance as the hero. Although lacking in bravura athletic skills, he becomes almost Fairbankian by the film's conclusion. (He even resembles Fairbanks in the shipboard scenes, surely no mere accident.) Appearing in movies since 1914, this was the film which made Sills a major star, and he would be given other popular, courageous roles before his career - and life - were ended by a heart attack in 1930, at the age of 48. Although he had appeared in 85 films, Milton Sills is all but forgotten today.
Beefy Wallace Beery, blustering & bullying as usual, steals all his scenes as a pirate captain who becomes Sills' toady. Enid Bennett is beautiful as the young Cornish woman beloved by the Sea Hawk. Lloyd Hughes gives a good performance as Sills' faithless half-brother. Wallace MacDonald is the very picture of a violent young bully. Lionel Belmore appears briefly as a friendly magistrate. Elderly Frank Currier & young William Collier Jr. both do well in roles that exude Moorish duplicity. Quick eyed movie mavens may spot George O'Brien as a galley slave.
Although the film has been tinted & toned, notice the nice extra touch during the 3 shots of the Basha's nighttime visit to the Sea Hawk, in which the flickering torches have been hand colored a theatric yellow.
Composer Robert Israel has given the film's restored print a very fine organ score which interpolates familiar melodies from as far afield as Gilbert & Sullivan.
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