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The Sea Hawk (1940)

Approved | | Action, Adventure, History | 1 July 1940 (USA)
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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Cast

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

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 <jsherma@hubcap.clemson.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Dashing...romantic...Errol Flynn at his thrilling best! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

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Details

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Language:

Release Date:

1 July 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Beggars of the Sea  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,700,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (re-release)

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Color:

| (Sepiatone) (Panama Sequences)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Film debut of Whit Bissell. See more »

Goofs

During the initial battle between the Albatross and the Spanish ambassador's ship, the Spanish captain orders the cannon to be double-shotted. That means to load two balls (shots) into each cannon. While such a tactic was used during battles, typically it was reserved for close-in battles when distance was not a concern - the object was to maximize damage. No wonder the Spanish broadside fell short. Also only one splash per gun can be seen - double-shots would have generated two splashes per gun and while they may have been close together, they would have been distinct. See more »

Quotes

[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?
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Connections

Referenced in Broadway by Light (1958) See more »

Soundtracks

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
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Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Errol at his best
12 February 2006 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

My favorite Errol Flynn movie has always been The Sea Hawk. Flynn made this in 1940 at the height of his career. All it is missing is Flynn's usual screen partner in that period, Olivia DeHavilland.

Errol Flynn plays the fictional privateer Geoffrey Thorpe who with the well known real characters like Drake, Frobisher, and Hawkins, raid the rich Spanish commerce from the New World which is what Europeans of the day were referring to the western hemisphere as. Queen Elizabeth of England gave all knowing wink to their activities and the realm took a cut of their loot.

One day Flynn attacks the ship carrying the Spanish ambassador Claude Rains and his niece Brenda Marshall who's English on her mother's side. That's it for Flynn.

But Queen Elizabeth has some traitors in her midst. The clever Lord Wolfingham played by Henry Daniell is in the Spanish pay. Daniell was one of the best screen villains ever. He was always a cold and calculating individual and had a voice with a built in sneer. He very cleverly deduces Flynn's future plans and lays a trap for him. See the film and find out, but suffice it to say Daniell is no fool.

Jack Warner saw that Flynn's films were always well scored musically. Flynn swashbuckled to some of the best film music ever composed. Here the composer is Erich Wolfgang Korngold, in other films with Warner Brothers, it's Max Steiner. Korngold's score isn't quite on par with the one he did for Robin Hood, but it's one you will not forget.

This was the last film Errol Flynn did with director Michael Curtiz. David Niven in his memoirs made of Curtiz a figure of some fun, he was the guy with the fractured English who uttered the memorable phrase that became Niven's title for his memoirs, 'bring on the empty horses.' Flynn in his memoirs hated him with a passion in that Curtiz put his players in some dangerous situations without regard for safety. After this he refused to work with him. But between them, Curtiz and Flynn did some grand entertainment. Curtiz later won an Oscar for directing Casablanca.

Flora Robson repeats her role as Queen Elizabeth, she had previously portrayed Elizabeth in Fire Over England back in the old country. It's probably the part she's most identified with in her career.

Brenda Marshall who is probably better known for being Mrs. William Holden, pinch hits for Olivia DeHavilland. Olivia was trying to get some better acting roles that she knew she could do and not be a crinolined heroine all the time. Jack Warner refused to see her as anything else for a long time.

Others in the cast who stand out are Alan Hale, Una O'Connor, Gilbert Roland and William Lundigan has a death scene that will haunt you for a long time.

The Sea Hawk is also a film that made use of a film process known as sepia tone. It's probably the film best known for it. The whole sequence of when Flynn sails his ship, the Albatross, to Panama is photographed in sepia tone. It makes the film come out a kind of brackish yellow. Since Warner Brothers didn't want to spring for full technicolor, this process is effective in demonstrating the jungle heat that Flynn and his men and the Spaniards for that matter operate under.

It is also no accident that this film was made in 1940 showing brave England refusing to buckle under to a tyrant from the European continent. Phillip II of Spain, played by Montagu Love, controlled a whole lot of the world's real estate at that point in time and wanted more. The meaning for the audiences of 1940 could not have been more clear.

The Sea Hawk is grand entertainment. In my humble opinion Errol Flynn's best film and one of the best of the swashbuckling genre.


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