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Terry O. Morse
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>
If You Can Fill the Screen, You Can Fill the Theaters
In the brave, bold swashbuckling days when Queen Elizabeth reigned, and waves crashed mightily onto England's Cornish coast, seafaring knight Milton Sills (as Oliver "Noll" Tressilian) courts neighboring pretty Enid Bennett (as Rosamund Godolphin). Ms. Bennett's brother Wallace MacDonald (as Peter Godolphin) doesn't want her to wed Mr. Sills, calling him a "blood-thirsty buccaneer!" Their guardian, Marc McDermott (as John Killigrew), agrees, and swords are raised. Sills is merciful, but likewise handsome young half-brother Lloyd Hughes (as Lionel "Lal" Tressilian) kills Mr. MacDonald in a duel.
Covering for his beloved brother, Sills allows himself to be blamed for Mr. Hughes act. Hughes is anything but grateful, making a deal with dastardly Wallace Beery (as Jasper Leigh) that lands Sills on a slave ship. While using his muscular frame on a ship's galley slave row, Stills gets cozy with partner Albert Prisco (as Yusuf-Ben-Moktar). The brawny men successfully break the chains that bind them, but Mr. Prisco dies in sniper fire. Making his escape, Stills rejects Christianity and converts to the Moslem faith of his deceased friend. Sills changes his name to "Sakr-el-Bahr" ("The Sea Hawk"), and enacts his revenge...
"The Sea Hawk" had audiences coming back for multiple viewings, and was a big hit for First National; it also moved director Frank Lloyd further into the small circle of epic filmmakers. The film boasts big - and big-looking, thanks to Lloyd's incredible use of the picture frame
production values; and, it is beautifully paced. Watch how well Lloyd
fills the screen during the "interrupted wedding" between Hughes and Bennett. Much of the seafaring footage was plundered to insert in later Warner Bros. films - and, it's likely not all of the stolen scenes were returned to the original; witness, for example, Sills' escape from slavery.
Critically acclaimed, as well as popular, "The Sea Hawk" was cited as the year's "Best Picture" by "Motion Picture" magazine. "Photoplay" declared "The Dramatic Life of Abraham Lincoln" the winner, while "Film Daily" had "The Thief of Bagdad" edging out "The Sea Hawk" by one vote. Moreover, the later two immediately began placing high on "all-time" greatest film lists. The heroic Sills may be uncommonly staid; but, in hindsight, this is preferable to the usual overplaying. Hughes performed exceptionally; he rose to #6 in a "Motion Picture" star poll, with Sills behind at #13. Bennett has relatively little to do, but Mr. Berry certainly makes a good impression; soon, he would become the biggest star from the cast, which has a dozen notable actors.
******** The Sea Hawk (6/2/24) Frank Lloyd ~ Milton Sills, Lloyd Hughes, Wallace Beery, Enid Bennett
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