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The Sea Hawk (1940)

Approved  |   |  Action, Adventure, Romance  |  1 July 1940 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 6,706 users  
Reviews: 69 user | 44 critic

Geoffrey Thorpe, a buccaneer, is hired by Queen Elizabeth I to nag the Spanish Armada. The Armada is waiting for the attack on England and Thorpe surprises them with attacks on their galleons where he shows his skills on the sword.



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Nominated for 4 Oscars. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Sir John Burleson
Lord Wolfingham
Miss Latham
Capt. Lopez
William Lundigan ...
Danny Logan
Julien Mitchell ...
Oliver Scott
Montagu Love ...
J.M. Kerrigan ...
Eli Matson
Martin Burke


Geoffrey Thorpe is an adventurous and dashing pirate, who feels that he should pirate the Spanish ships for the good of England. In one such battle, he overtakes a Spanish ship and when he comes aboard he finds Dona Maria, a beautiful Spanish royal. He is overwhelmed by her beauty, but she will have nothing to do with him because of his pirating ways (which include taking her prized jewels). To show his noble side, he suprises her by returning the jewels, and she begins to fall for him. When the ship reaches England, Queen Elizabeth is outraged at the actions of Thorpe and demands that he quit pirating. Because he cannot do this, Thorpe is sent on a mission and in the process becomes a prisoner of the Spaniards. Meanwhile, Dona Maria pines for Thorpe and when he escapes he returns to England to uncover some deadly secrets. Exciting duels follow as Thorpe must expose the evil and win Dona Maria's heart. Written by Julie Sherman <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Never before so many thrills! Never such adventure, such romance! Sail to high adventure with 'The Robin Hood of the Sea.' See more »


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

1 July 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Beggars of the Sea  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$1,700,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (re-release)

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)


(Sepiatone) (South America sequences)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Studio archives contain a number of memos from Hal B. Wallis to Michael Curtiz detailing the production chief's dissatisfaction with the director's handling of many scenes in Captain Blood (1935), The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936), and The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938). Attempting to avoid such conflicts and misunderstandings, he spent several hours with Curtiz going over Howard Koch's script scene-by-scene. However, production delays on Virginia City (1940) pushed back casting tests to January 1940. See more »


When what's left of Captain Thorpe and his men are coming back to their ship after being ambushed by the Spanish, you can see the shadow of a boom mic on the upper right portion of the ship on the screen. See more »


[first lines]
King Philip II: The riches of the New World are limitless, and the New World is ours - with our ships carrying the Spanish flag on seven seas, our armies sweeping over Africa, the Near East, and the Far West; invincible everywhere... but on our own doorstep. Only northern Europe holds out against us; why? Tell me, why?
See more »


Referenced in Family Guy: Long John Peter (2008) See more »


Strike for the Shores of Dover
(1940) (uncredited)
Music by Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Lyrics by Jack Scholl and Howard Koch
Sung by the oarsmen when they take over the ship
Played also in the score
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

A Lot To Like In Yet Another Entertaining Flynn Film
3 January 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This is definitely an Errol Flynn classic, meaning one of his best films and the charismatic star of the mid-'30s to mid-'40s did a number of entertaining ones. He's best known - on screen, that is - as a swordsman from his "Captain Blood" and "Adventures of Robin Hood" days, but he also was terrific as boxer James J. Corbett in "Gentlemen Jim" and as western star "Wade Hatton" in "Dodge City."

He's great here as pirate "Geoffrey Thorpe" and what makes this pirate movie different is that half of the action scenes are on land, not sea. (They on are on island, or back in the castle of Queen Elizabeth). Flynn captains "The Albatross" and is a privateering ship captain for her Majesty the queen in the 1500s. They are battling the Spanish in this story. The real bad guys are some of the turncoats in Elizabeth's court.

The film is interesting even with its length of over two hours. It keeps a good balance of drama, action, romance and suspense, never overdoing any of those.

While it's hard to beat the entertainment duo of Director Michael Curtiz and actor Flynn, Brenda Marshall as "Doria Maria," Thorpe's love interest, doesn't quite cut it. Olivia de Havilland usually played his female interest, and - although that doesn't require she play in every Flynn movie - they could have found someone more attractive and likable than Marshall who, justifiably, had a thin career. Her casting in here is a big mystery to me.

Whatever, Flora Robson was fun to watch as "Queen Elizabeth." Claude Rains and Henry Daniell played their normal bad-guy roles well and Thorpe's crew, led by Flynn's best friend Alan Hale, are all entertaining guys.

I enjoyed the sepia-tone sequence when Flynn and the boys go for the gold on the Panama island. That was a nice, little visual twist to this black-and-white movie..

Not to be left out is the sweeping score, under the direction of Erich Wolfgang Korngold, which is one of the more magnificent ones you'll hear in a classic film.

28 of 30 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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