A few words about…™ The Sea Hawk — in Blu-ray

Those who have never seen the film, should be thrilled. 4 Stars

Initially meant as a form of follow-up to his 1935 Captain Blood, which gave Errol Flynn his first major role, The Sea Hawk, had to wait half a decade, and come from another source entirely to make it to the screen.

But when it did, with Mr. Flynn one of Hollywood’s consummate stars, it arrived via a huge budget, a great cast, and quality galore.

There are only about a dozen major Flynn films, and finally receiving Sea Hawk on Blu-ray, is a cause of celebration.

The majority of the film, which made up the cut version (18 minutes had been lost) is drop dead gorgeous, while the inserts for the excised material is less so.

But the difference between the two, similar to the situation with Hawks’ The Thing, allows us to see, and understand the various cutting decisions at work.

One of the great adventure for not only of the 1940s, but for any era.

Those who have never seen the film, should be thrilled.

The sepia toned sequence, also looks superb in HD.

I could offer a list of the Flynn films that fans would love to purchase on Blu-ray, like so many others have requested, but the studio is aware, and acting as funds allow to do proper restoration work.

Image – 5/3 (cut sequences)

Audio – 5

Pass / Fail – Pass

Upgrade from DVD – Absolutely

Very Highly Recommended

RAH

Published by

Robert Harris

editor,member

64 Comments

  1. Robert Harris

    Initially meant as a form of follow-up to his 1935 Captain Blood, which gave Errol Flynn his first major role, The Sea Hawk, had to wait half a decade, and come from another source entirely to make it to the screen.

    But when it did, with Mr. Flynn one of Hollywood's consummate stars, it arrived via a huge budget, a great cast, and quality galore.

    There are only about a dozen major Flynn films, and finally receiving Sea Hawk on Blu-ray, is a cause of celebration.

    The majority of the film, which made up the cut version (18 minutes had been lost) is drop dead gorgeous, while the inserts for the excised material is less so.

    But the difference between the two, similar to the situation with Hawks' The Thing, allows us to see, and understand the various cutting decisions at work.

    One of the great adventure for not only of the 1940s, but for any era.

    Those who have never seen the film, should be thrilled.

    The sepia toned sequence, also looks superb in HD.

    I could offer a list of the Flynn films that fans would love to purchase on Blu-ray, like so many others have requested, but the studio is aware, and acting as funds allow to do proper restoration work.

    Image – 5/3 (cut sequences)

    Audio – 5

    Pass / Fail – Pass

    Upgrade from DVD – Absolutely

    Very Highly Recommended

    RAH

    As for potential BD buyers, I'd pay serious money for his entire filmography on BD. But that's just me

  2. atfree

    As for potential BD buyers, I'd pay serious money for his entire filmography on BD. But that's just me

    TCM has been showing more and more of the lesser known Flynn's in HD— Last Thursday, GREEN LIGHT, and this coming Monday, ANOTHER DAWN in Hi-Def. Both released in 1937.

  3. Mark McSherry

    TCM has been showing more and more of the lesser known Flynn's in HD— Last Thursday, GREEN LIGHT, and this coming Monday, ANOTHER DAWN in Hi-Def. Both released in 1937.

    I at the least like to see Objective Burma, Kim, and Virginia City(also of note including a mustached Bogart) on BluRay.

  4. Robert…I see you give a 5 to the audio but can you comment on the actual sound quality? Being able to hear
    Korngold's score with the requisite power is an important element for me. On the Laser Disc and DVD release
    the typical Warner Bros sound with a full mid range and a punchy low end was missing. It was there on the VHS
    release but after that seemed to have gone through a digital scrubbing that bleached the sound rendering it thin
    and anemic with a peaked top end that made it hard to crank up the volume to provide the auditory punch that
    does so much to drive the show along. Hopefully this has been restored too. Incidentally, I recreated a suite
    of music from The Sea Hawk using the best MIDI technology recently…It is up on my site at
    http://johnmaxwelltaylor.com/movie-scores/ for those who would like a listen.
    P.S. Trivia note: my fencing teacher was Ralph Faulkner who doubled for Henry Daniell in the climactic duel along with
    Fred Cavan's for Flynn

  5. 70 Millman

    Robert…I see you give a 5 to the audio but can you comment on the actual sound quality? Being able to hear
    Korngold's score with the requisite power is an important element for me. On the Laser Disc and DVD release
    the typical Warner Bros sound with a full mid range and a punchy low end was missing. It was there on the VHS
    release but after that seemed to have gone through a digital scrubbing that bleached the sound rendering it thin
    and anemic with a peaked top end that made it hard to crank up the volume to provide the auditory punch that
    does so much to drive the show along. Hopefully this has been restored too. Incidentally, I recreated a suite
    of music from The Sea Hawk using the best MIDI technology recently…It is up on my site at
    http://johnmaxwelltaylor.com/movie-scores/ for those who would like a listen.
    P.S. Trivia note: my fencing teacher was Ralph Faulkner who doubled for Henry Daniell in the climactic duel along with
    Fred Cavan's for Flynn

    Not having a comparison, it sounded fine to me, with what I perceive to be the proper Academy cut-off.

    Zero complaints on the entire package.

  6. Robert Harris

    Initially meant as a form of follow-up to his 1935 Captain Blood, which gave Errol Flynn his first major role, The Sea Hawk, had to wait half a decade, and come from another source entirely to make it to the screen.

    But when it did, with Mr. Flynn one of Hollywood's consummate stars, it arrived via a huge budget, a great cast, and quality galore.

    There are only about a dozen major Flynn films, and finally receiving Sea Hawk on Blu-ray, is a cause of celebration.

    The majority of the film, which made up the cut version (18 minutes had been lost) is drop dead gorgeous, while the inserts for the excised material is less so.

    But the difference between the two, similar to the situation with Hawks' The Thing, allows us to see, and understand the various cutting decisions at work.

    One of the great adventure for not only of the 1940s, but for any era.

    Those who have never seen the film, should be thrilled.

    The sepia toned sequence, also looks superb in HD.

    I could offer a list of the Flynn films that fans would love to purchase on Blu-ray, like so many others have requested, but the studio is aware, and acting as funds allow to do proper restoration work.

    Image – 5/3 (cut sequences)

    Audio – 5

    Pass / Fail – Pass

    Upgrade from DVD – Absolutely

    Very Highly Recommended

    RAH

    you said …only about a dozen major films …….to me that is a lot of movies and honestly compared to today's movie stars such as Tom Cruise Johnny Depp George Clooney Leonardo DiCaprio and so on none of who will ever have attain that number of major movies as Errol Flynn

  7. I've of course pre-ordered this, it's been on every one of my Warner wants lists for years, a childhood favourite. I looked at the DVD a short while ago, & could see the quality drop on the restated scenes, but that's life, it's not perfect. This is one of my top five releases of the year, & I hope there's more Flynn's to follow.

  8. A fun movie, although I prefer Adventures of Robin Hood.

    Of all the novels ever put on film, The Sea Hawk is probably the one least close to the book. It's really an original screenplay, with no connection aside from the title and being officially based on the book.

    The novel is a lot of fun. So is the movie, so it's good to have both.

    btw, there was a silent version that stuck reasonably close to the book.

  9. LincolnSpector

    A fun movie, although I prefer Adventures of Robin Hood.

    btw, there was a silent version that stuck reasonably close to the book.

    I believe some of the footage from the 1924 THE SEA HAWK was reused for the Flynn film, short bits during the rousing sea battle that the 1940 version opens with. Warner Archive did release the silent version on DVD ten years ago with a running time of 124m and tinted sequences.

  10. When WAC started releasing Bogart movies, they came thick & fast, so I'm hoping it'll be the same with Flynny. I'd think an easy one would be They Died With Their Boots On, as I thought it was the best looking film in the Errol Flynn box. A tougher job would be Elizabeth & Essex, all those misaligned colours.

  11. Yes, Elizabeth and Essex is atrocious on DVD. I would implore WAC to commit to one of their ultra-hi-def restorations a la Dodge City, pretty please. I love The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex. Reportedly, the scene where Essex turns to leave the Queen, Bette Davis hauled off and slapped Flynn with such resolve, her jewel-encrusted ring left a welt on his cheek. You can see his reaction in the movie – total shock, immediately followed by thorough disgust. It's no secret, the two absolutely hated each other on the set. Davis never considered Flynn much of an actor. But years later, mid-sixties I believe, as a postscript, Davis took co-star, Olivia De Havilland to the Warner back lot for old-time's sake to run the picture and afterward reportedly turned to De Havilland, adding, "I was wrong about him. He's marvelous." High praise, too late for Flynn's ears. He died in 1959.

  12. Nick*Z

    Yes, Elizabeth and Essex is atrocious on DVD. I would implore WAC to commit to one of their ultra-hi-def restorations a la Dodge City, pretty please. I love The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex. Reportedly, the scene where Essex turns to leave the Queen, Bette Davis hauled off and slapped Flynn with such resolve, her jewel-encrusted ring left a welt on his cheek. You can see his reaction in the movie – total shock, immediately followed by thorough disgust. It's no secret, the two absolutely hated each other on the set. Davis never considered Flynn much of an actor. But years later, mid-sixties I believe, as a postscript, Davis took co-star, Olivia De Havilland to the Warner back lot for old-time's sake to run the picture and afterward reportedly turned to De Havilland, adding, "I was wrong about him. He's marvelous." High praise, too late for Flynn's ears. He died in 1959.

    Good story. I hope its true.

    I remember a similar one. In the late 50s, De Havilland took her children to see a revival of Adventures of Robin Hood. By this time, De Havilland was a respected actress, and Flynn was an unrespected, alcoholic, has-been. As she watched the movie, should couldn't help noticing how good Flynn was. She told herself she should call him and tell him how impressed she was at his performance.

    And then, as so often happens, she procrastinated. He died before she called him.

  13. LincolnSpector

    Good story. I hope its true.

    I remember a similar one. In the late 50s, De Havilland took her children to see a revival of Adventures of Robin Hood. By this time, De Havilland was a respected actress, and Flynn was an unrespected, alcoholic, has-been. As she watched the movie, should couldn't help noticing how good Flynn was. She told herself she should call him and tell him how impressed she was at his performance.

    And then, as so often happens, she procrastinated. He died before she called him.

    I remember Ms. De Havilland telling that story, I can't remember if it was on TCM with Robert Osborne or some other bonus material for a disc release. Another story I heard is that there was some other tension between Davis and Flynn and that it was sexual tension between the two stars. Flynn apparently loved her walk.

  14. Robert Crawford

    Another story I heard is that there was some other tension between Davis and Flynn and that it was sexual tension between the two stars. Flynn apparently loved her walk.

    While Bette Davis did not exactly respect Erroll Flynn's acting skills, and she was VERY upset that one of the proposed titles for ELIZABETH & ESSEX was THE KNIGHT AND HIS LADY (which gave Essex precedence over Elizabeth and HIS box office prowess over HERS) I think the stories of them "loathing" each other are apocryphal. She found him dazzlingly attractive (who wouldn't?) and they certainly don't seem to be anything but chummy in this famous blooper from THE SISTERS (at 1:51)

  15. Yes, Errol got top billing over Bette in The Sisters, and in Mother Goddam, Bette mentioned she was very grateful to be in The Sisters because Errol was a big box-office star, and being in a film of his couldn't do her anything but good.

    By 1939, Bette had two Oscars and had become a box-office draw herself, thus her billing over him. At the end of the year, she landed in 6th place at the polls. Errol was 8th.

  16. Good to read this review – I have the disc on pre-order here in the UK so assume it will not arrive until 2019.

    The release is timely: I recently decided to watch my 2005 DVD again, but played the dsc in my Blu-ray player. What a shocking disappointment. The fllm played like a patchwork quilt. Every print source was obvious as the quality changed sometimes from shot to shot.

    The greater visual scrutiny of a bluray laser revealed all the cuts and blemishes. It was painful.

    So, I am greatly looking forward to this new issue and even if the 18 minutes that were cut in 1947 are obvious, I will settle for the rest being wonderful!

    Now what really needs to happen is for ELISABETH & ESSEX to be properly restored. I know that WB has original nitrate technicolor prints for this title, so a digital frame by frame scrub up and scan (like was done for DODGE CITY) should be possible and is so desperatelt needed. DODGE was a revelation – ESSEX would be transcendent.

    PLEASE WB????

  17. Brendan G Carroll

    Now what really needs to happen is for ELISABETH & ESSEX to be properly restored.

    Next year marks the 80th anniversary of 1939, and I'm hoping Warner Bros. will release another wave of films from what is often considered Hollywood's greatest year, and The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (and Goodbye, Mr. Chips, Wuthering Heights, Gunga Din, etc.) will be among them.

    I've never seen The Sea Hawk and am really looking forward to it.

  18. Robert Crawford

    I remember Ms. De Havilland telling that story, I can't remember if it was on TCM with Robert Osborne or some other bonus material for a disc release. Another story I heard is that there was some other tension between Davis and Flynn and that it was sexual tension between the two stars. Flynn apparently loved her walk.

    I am pretty sure that was originally on the commentary track for the Criterion laserdisc (which was a gorgeous disc in its day). Not sure if that commentary is on the blu, however.

  19. The latest Warner Archive Podcast with George Feltenstein. It has a date of December 11th, but it didn't show up on my iTunes until today. Feltenstein and group talks about "The Sea Hawk".

    By the way, George Feltenstein stated that he needs sales on this title to be good enough so he can release other Errol Flynn films. He wants to release more Flynn films on Blu-ray, but the number of sold units on "The Sea Hawk" needs to be enough to justify the cost of releasing those other Flynn titles onto Blu-ray. People need to support that effort.

    https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/warner-archive-collection-podcast

  20. BobO’Link

    ^That's all well and good… but just how many units is "good enough?" I'll be purchasing this title as it's a favorite, but vague statements like that just sound like marketing speak to me. Give us hard numbers and a place we can track them to see if our efforts (i.e. purchases) are truly making a difference.

    You'll know if your purchases are making a difference when other Flynn titles are released on Blu-ray.

  21. Robert Crawford

    […]By the way, George Feltenstein stated that he needs sales on this title to be good enough so he can release other Errol Flynn films. He wants to release more Flynn films on Blu-ray, but the number of sold units on "The Sea Hawk" needs to be enough to justify the cost of releasing those other Flynn titles onto Blu-ray. People need to support that effort.

    https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/warner-archive-collection-podcast

    Thanks for posting, Robert. It's always good to know where we can help.
    I will now make certain that "The Sea Hawk" becomes inclusive of my next purchase.

  22. I've been away from the forum the last two hours or so because my mailman came with this Blu-ray title. Wow! What a great looking disc compared to prior video releases of this fine film. The optical shots look as such and you can tell where they substituted from lesser film elements the previous cut sequences. Other than that, it looks great and I'm very happy with this BD release.

  23. One more thing I forgot to add as I was leaving to catch the 5:00 p.m. showing of "Aquaman". The musical score of "The Sea Hawk" is one of my favorites and I consider it one of the best from that era. Another thing, impressive camera work on this film with some outstanding shots.

  24. dpippel

    I watched this last night and was amazed at just how wonderful it looks. BEAUTIFUL job by Warner!!

    Exactly my experience…..and I would only add my delight at how great it sounded, and how much I enjoyed taking in the whole "Warner Night at the Movies" (and seeing the cartoon "PORKY'S POOR FISH" in High-Def!). Definitely one of the best Blu-rays of the year for me!

  25. I first saw The Sea Hawk televised in the late 50s. I was about 12 years old and I just loved it. Of course, at that time, facts on films were hard to come by, such as edited (shortened) releases of certain films for reissues. Years later when video came in and I bought The Sea Hawk, I was surprised at how many scenes from my youth were missing…especially the night scene where Doña Maria is racing to the pier in the carriage to catch Geoffrey Thorpe before his ship leaves – only to arrive too late. It wasn’t until years later that I found out the 16 mm prints were the full 127 minute film and hadn’t been edited to correspond with the theatrical 35mm rerelease.

  26. Conrad_SSS

    I enjoyed taking in the whole "Warner Night at the Movies" (and seeing the cartoon "PORKY'S POOR FISH" in High-Def!). Definitely one of the best Blu-rays of the year for me!

    It's interesting in that Warner seems to have relaxed their self imposed "special features in SD" mandate. Unless I'm not remembering correctly (which is highly possible) all earlier special features have been in SD. PORKY'S POOR FISH is, indeed, in glorious HD on this disc, while the other elements of the "night at the movies" are still in SD (and interlaced!)

    I'm finally sitting down to watch the whole thing now, can't wait!

  27. Will Krupp

    It's interesting in that Warner seems to have relaxed their self imposed "special features in SD" mandate. Unless I'm not remembering correctly (which is highly possible) all earlier special features have been in SD. PORKY'S POOR FISH is, indeed, in glorious HD on this disc, while the other elements of the "night at the movies" are still in SD (and interlaced!)

    Of the ones I have, The Maltese Falcon has the Porky Pig Meet John Doughboy in HD, and The Adventures of Robin Hood has Katnip Kollege, Rabbit Hood and Robin Hood Daffy in HD.

  28. Paul Penna

    Of the ones I have, The Maltese Falcon has the Porky Pig Meet John Doughboy in HD, and The Adventures of Robin Hood has Katnip Kollege, Rabbit Hood and Robin Hood Daffy in HD.

    See, I TOLD You it was highly possible 🙂

  29. Will Krupp

    It's interesting in that Warner seems to have relaxed their self imposed "special features in SD" mandate. Unless I'm not remembering correctly (which is highly possible) all earlier special features have been in SD. PORKY'S POOR FISH is, indeed, in glorious HD on this disc, while the other elements of the "night at the movies" are still in SD (and interlaced!)

    I'm finally sitting down to watch the whole thing now, can't wait!

    It wasn’t so much as a mandate as just what was available at the time. They weren’t budgeting anything towards restoring the special features. So most of the currently available WNATM extras were SD. However a few of the cartoons had been remastered in HD in the interim and were used for Blu-ray. That said, they have taken to remastering trailers in HD in recent years.

  30. Mark-P

    It wasn’t so much as a mandate as just what was available at the time. They weren’t budgeting anything towards restoring the special features. So most of the currently available WNATM extras were SD. However a few of the cartoons had been remastered in HD in the interim and were used for Blu-ray. That said, they have taken to remastering trailers in HD in recent years.

    Thanks, Mark!! That makes sense! 🙂

  31. I took another look at this earlier today.

    It proves what a superb image can be harvested and released as a tiny Blu-ray Disc.

    An amazingly gorgeous representation of film.

    For those who desire more Flynn, the message is clear.

  32. Back in the day, I paid around $300 for a nice 16mm of Sea Hawk. Beautiful original quality, but nowhere near Blu-ray.

    I don’t believe that the public has any idea how much it costs to create. Fair price on this should be $35.

  33. I watched this for the third time in two weeks last night with my wife, who'd never seen it and isn't nearly as much of a movie fan as I. She loved it. This film is so well staged, well shot, and well acted that it just sweeps you up never really lets go until the end title card. I've heard someone describe it as "the Star Wars of its day", and I can certainly see that as a valid comparison. This Blu-ray is absolutely revelatory!

    By the way, IMO Flora Robson absolutely steals every single scene she's in as Elizabeth. What a performance!! I love that woman.

  34. dpippel

    By the way, IMO Flora Robson effortlessly steals every single scene she's in as Elizabeth. What a performance!! I love that woman.

    She pretty much does the same in Fire Over England … 😉

  35. dpippel

    By the way, IMO Flora Robson effortlessly steals every single scene she's in as Elizabeth. What a performance!! I love that woman.

    She pretty much does the same in Fire Over England … 😉

  36. File under: you learn something new every day.

    From IMDb

    Biography
    Brenda wanted to be a film actress, all right; it's just that she didn't want to be Brenda Marshall. Throughout her years in Hollywood, she insisted that her friends and coworkers address her not by her studio-fabricated cognomen, but by her given name of Ardis Ankerson (with the addition of the surname of her first husband, Gaines). A Warner Bros. contractee of the early 1940s, Ankerson/Marshall did her best work opposite Errol Flynn in The Sea Hawk and Footsteps in the Dark. From 1941 through 1973, Brenda Marshall was married to actor William Holden, a curious union that evidently soured early on (Holden's friends blamed Marshall, and vice versa), and was distinguished by extended separations and numerous extracurricular romances.

  37. I pre-purchased and did hope I'd receive it this year. Seems not, since post delivery times on this last day of the year cease around now. Hopefully early in the New Year! At least I've done my bit and hoping Warners reciprocate with a Blu ray release of Captain Blood.

  38. Robert Harris

    File under: you learn something new every day.

    She came to Warner Brothers just as America's Brenda Frazier obsession was its height and she bore more than a passing resemblance to the most famous debutante in the world. I've often wondered if that's the reason Warner gave her the stage name of Brenda in the first place. Ironically enough, Ardis Ankerson always struck me as a synthetic "Hollywood" type name.

    View attachment 53783

  39. I always liked Brenda Marshall in "Strange Impersonation" (1946). Such a wild little b-film, with a far-flung plotline that manages to skirt odds, and wind up more endearing than exasperating. Marshall is great in it.

  40. bujaki

    The Sea Hawk shows what a great director Michael Curtiz was.

    He certainly was, as he was underrated during this directorial career in comparison to the other well regarded directors, but I think film historians have since recognized that he was indeed a great director, no matter the film genre.

  41. Robert Crawford

    He certainly was, as he was underrated during this directorial career in comparison to the other well regarded directors, but I think film historians have since recognized that he was indeed a great director, no matter the film genre.

    Read Alan K. Rode's book on Curtiz. It's fascinating, and places him right where he belongs in film history He fought Jack Warner for all the small (and large) touches that make the films stand out from the studio product.

  42. After reading comments about this film yesterday, I decided to watch it again with friends last night. Even though I had watched the feature when the disc arrived before the holidays, and I was blown away by the quality of the BD on every level, I had not taken the time to watch it as designed as the “moment you’ve been waiting for” by watching it with my guests in the full “Warner Night at the Movies” format. How much fun we all had, and the film itself was even more thrilling to watch this second time. Gorgeous! Given how awful this looks on DVD and in HD on TCM, you really appreciate the work that went into this restoration.

    This is my 2nd favorite Flynn film after Robin Hood, and I think this is easily one of the best Blus of 2018. Warner really knocked it out of the park for me this year, between this, SEVEN BRIDES, GUN CRAZY, POPEYE and THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD, they’ve taken half my “top ten” this year.

  43. What a magnificent movie and blu-ray presentation! I've been among those who have been requesting WAC to put out some Errol Flynn titles for some time, and WAC has delivered and exceeded all of my expectations. The picture and sound quality are stunning beyond belief. I don't recall the DVD being all that bad, but if the clips in the accompanying documentary (which was produced for the DVD release in 2005) are of any indication, we have come a long way. WAC is to be commended, and I hope sales are brisk and plentiful enough to encourage WAC to make 2019 the year of Flynn! 🙂

    On a side note, fans of classic television should keep their eyes peeled for early appearances by Herbert Anderson (Dennis the Menace), Edgar Buchanan (Petticoat Junction), and Frank Wilcox (The Beverly Hillbillies, The Untouchables, etc.).

  44. Arthur Powell

    […]and I hope sales are brisk and plentiful enough to encourage WAC to make 2019 the year of Flynn! 🙂

    I most heartily concur; along with The Flynn Man, After the Flynn Man, Another Flynn Man, etc…;)

    BTW, Happy 2019 to HTF.:cheers:

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