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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 6,713 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


Dashing...romantic...Errol Flynn at his thrilling best! 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?


Finnish censorship visa # 23684 delivered on 4-8-2005 (DVD) See more »


After coming out of the jungle of Panama, Thorpe drops his sword. When he is in on the ship however, he is carrying the same sword. 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 »


Edited into The Extraordinary Seaman (1969) See more »


Old Spanish Song
Music by Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Lyrics by Howard Koch
Sung by Brenda Marshall (dubbed by Sally Sweetland)
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Some minor flaws, but major assets
17 September 1998 | by (Bettendorf, IA) – See all my reviews

There a only a couple of things that make this fall short of classic status, and they are not enough to keep it off of anyone's list of favorite/best adventure films.

The film is somewhat overproduced. The settings are too opulent, the costumes too magnificent, and the score is almost too rousing. This is particularly true when Flynn and his entire crew start singing, backed up none too discreetly by the entire Warners chorus and orchestra. Who sings while climbing riggings, anyway?

The other shortfall is the absence of color. Warners was known for their cost-consciousness, but it is ironic to note that a bit of trimming in the costuming and settings department would have probably allowed them to use the tri-color process, which was used to such spectacular effect in The Adventures of Robin Hood.

That said, the Sea Hawk possesses an embarrassment of riches. The semi-historic story line is strong, as are the performances of a truly stellar cast. Flora Robson, Claude Rains are tremendous, and Henry Daniell darn near out-sneers Basil Rathbone as the duplicitous villain. Brenda Marshall is no Olivia de Havilland, but she doesn't have do be; its nice to see Errol flirting with another comely wench.

Errol himself is also a treat. This was 1940, before his rape trial and before he got tired of movie making. He is obviously engaged in the production, and is at his most dashing self in pushing it along. Perrenial sidekick (on and off screen) Alan Hale is outstanding as well in his portrayal of...Well, Alan Hale.

Best of all is the score, composed by gool old erich Wolfgang Korngold. It is no coincidence that his music is at the heart of Flynn's best movies. It matches the action scene for scene in a manner again reminiscent of Robin Hood.

Although I cannot rank this as Flynn's best vehicle, there is a solid minority of Flynnatics who do. A compelling argument can be made for it.

18 of 26 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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