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George Loane Tucker
Joseph J. Dowling
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 <email@example.com>
This particular adaption of Rafael Sabatini's swashbuckling novel remains faithful to the original story. For those of us who are fans of the Errol Flynn version of The Sea Hawk and I consider it his best film, it has no resemblance to this silent film whatsoever.
In a way that's good because both versions can truly stand on their own merits. Milton Sills is the lead in this version, playing Sir Oliver Tressilian, prosperous landowner in Cornwall. He's looking to wed Enid Bennett who is the daughter of an adjacent estate, but Sills has two problems, her brother Wallace McDonald who doesn't think Sills's family is good enough and Sills's half brother Lloyd Hughes who wants Bennett for himself.
After this The Sea Hawk becomes a mixed version of The Master of Ballantrae and Ben-Hur. Sills is framed for McDonald's murder and captured by pirates who sell him to the Spaniards as a galley slave and then he gets rescued by the Moors.
When Sills gets rescued by the Moors it's his good fortune that the Pasha of Algiers takes a liking to him and he becomes their top pirate with the fearsome name of Sakr El-Bahr, The Sea Hawk.
The rest of the film follows a similar path of Sabatini's other work Captain Blood.
Warner Brothers when they remade The Sea Hawk though they didn't use the story certainly did retain several of the battle scenes which the viewer will immediately recognize. This version is every bit as grand and grandiose as the better known sound film. Sills and Bennett do indeed remind one of Errol Flynn and Brenda Marshall. And Sills in treading on territory that Douglas Fairbanks staked out delivers a fine performance, though without the flair for dramatics that Fairbanks had.
I'm definitely glad this silent classic is not lost.
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