87 user 51 critic

The Sea Hawk (1940)

Approved | | Action, Adventure, History | 31 August 1940 (USA)
2:23 | Trailer
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.


Michael Curtiz


Howard Koch (screen play), Seton I. Miller (screen play)
Nominated for 4 Oscars. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Errol Flynn ... Geoffrey Thorpe
Brenda Marshall ... Doña Maria
Claude Rains ... Don José Alvarez de Cordoba
Donald Crisp ... Sir John Burleson
Flora Robson ... Queen Elizabeth
Alan Hale ... Carl Pitt
Henry Daniell ... Lord Wolfingham
Una O'Connor ... Miss Latham
James Stephenson ... Abbott
Gilbert Roland ... Captain Lopez
William Lundigan ... Danny Logan
Julien Mitchell Julien Mitchell ... Oliver Scott
Montagu Love ... King Phillip II
J.M. Kerrigan ... Eli Matson
David Bruce ... Martin Burke


Geoffrey Thorpe (Errol Flynn) 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 Doña Maria (Brenda Marshall), 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 I (Dame Flora Robson) 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, Doña 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 Doña Maria's heart. Written by Julie Sherman <jsherma@hubcap.clemson.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


By this point, Errol Flynn was the studio's top male star, bringing in more at the box-office than any others on the roster, but he felt that he was not given the same deferential treatment as some of his colleagues. Flynn always felt ill-treated by the studio and was at frequent loggerheads with Jack L. Warner, who ran the West Coast operation. Warner, in turn, was tired of the constant problems he had with his star. Attempting to scare him into line, the studio screentested contract player Dennis Morgan for the role, but it was never really going to be anyone else's movie but Flynn's - and he knew it. See more »


At the beginning of the movie during King Phillip's monologue, the map on the wall shows western and northern parts of the North American continent which were not known at the time. 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 »

Alternate Versions

Also shown in computer-colored version. See more »


Featured in The Goonies (1985) 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
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User Reviews

AHOY! an adventure classic
3 December 2004 | by orsino44See all my reviews

What a year for swashbucklers 1940 was!

Fox made THE MARK OF ZORRO with Power, Rathbone, and Cavens, and

Warners made THE SEA HAWK with Flynn, Daniell and Ralph Faulkner.

The Sea Hawk offers much to delight the audience -- most of the team from the

Adventures of Robin Hood are here again in top form.

Most notable, of course, is Errol Flynn. Appearing here in a more mature

incarnation than Captain Blood or Robin Hood and before the dissipation

of his later years set in, this is THE Errol Flynn.

Based on the exploits of Sir Francis Drake, The Sea Hawk unfurls its flag

against the backdrop of England's struggle against the Spanish armada, (and

more pointedly, the Allies' struggle against the Axis, as evidenced by Elizabeth's

final speech). Superb BW cinematography, Korngold's magnificent score, lavish

sets and costumes, and the intrigue-laden script make this a perfect film for a

popcorn night on the sofa with your significant other, all punctuated by great

battle sequences and that blinding final rapier duel between Thorpe and

Wolfingham. If at all possible find the restored British print with 18 additional

minutes and the Panama sequence in sepia tone.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

31 August 1940 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Beggars of the Sea See more »

Filming Locations:

Laguna Beach, California, USA See more »


Box Office


$1,700,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (re-release)

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)


Black and White | Black and White (Sepiatone) (Panama Sequences)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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