A Few Words About A few words about... The Sea Hawk (1940)

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Robert Harris, Apr 10, 2005.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Warner's new DVD of Michael Curtiz's remake of The Sea Hawk is another beautifully rendered release.

    One of my personal all-time favorites, the film holds up perfectly to modern viewing, with Mr. Flynn's performance at the very top of his swashbuckling game.

    As with the previous laserdisc release, this is a version which I had never been able to see. The film was cut for re-issue more than two reels, 24 minutes, and the only version available until the restoration, based upon (as I recall, a nitrate print held by the BFI) was the shorter cut as seen non-theatrically and on television for decades.

    The Sea Hawk is part of what I hope will be the first of several Flynn Collections from the studio, with five of his finest films in this initial release.

    As the additional 24 minutes were derived from a full-contrast print, there is an obvious difference between the surviving original element and the reconstructed material. Rather than being disturbing, the difference is just enough to allow those interested to track what was cut as the film progresses. Another point of technical interest is the inclusion of an original sepia toned sequence, as found in the original.

    For those who might be mis-lead by what may appear to be an "old black and white film..."

    Make no mistake.

    The Sea Hawk is not only one of the greatest films of its era and genre, but stands the test of time against modern productions, as one of the greatest adventure films ever produced.

    Do not allow the fact that it can be purchased for slightly more than a glass of nice wine to dissuade from its purchase.

    This is one of the films which must be owned.

    RAH
     
  2. Jaime_Weinman

    Jaime_Weinman Supporting Actor

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    Thank you for the review, Mr. Harris. I love this movie and, as you imply, even people who don't normally respond to "old" movies tend to like this one.

    Another thing I love about it is that it has a very clear, intentional political message; the writers made the story into an allegory about WWII, with Spain as the Nazis (King Philip intends to make fake peace with England to disguise his plan to conquer England and dominate the world). Queen Elizabeth's final speech is just openly a speech about World War II and the need to fight the enemy.
     
  3. Armin Jager

    Armin Jager Stunt Coordinator

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    The long version was shown on German tv some years ago, there are some nice scenes. THE SEA HAWKS shows Michael Curtiz at the absolute height of his power. When I had to make a presentation on Curtiz in university I chose mostly clips from this film to illustrate his visual ingenuity. His fluid camera work is marvellous, e.g the camera shows Flynn in chains goes back through some lattice to underscore his situation, then there's a cut to Brenda Marshall who sings a sad love song during which the camera pans slowly from her over some court ladies to the monkey which is the mascot of the ship which again nicely underscores her feelings.
    It's impossible to make a better swashbuckler, you can merely try equal this gigh level.

    I'm very eager to see CAPTAIN BLOOD in its long version, too.
     
  4. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    RAH,
    Thanks for the review. Again, it's unfortunate that Warner wasn't able to film this movie in the three-strip Technicolor process. Anyhow, I can't wait for my boxset to arrive.





    Crawdaddy
     
  5. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    After seeing TCM's excellent documentary on Flynn, the box set was added to my wish list.

    Also, I caught the first half of Captain Blood (fell asleep not due to the film, but the fact that it aired late [​IMG] ) and it was terrific! I also saw "Dive Bomber" last night, which was a great film, as well (not to mention TCM's print looked great).
     
  6. John Morgan

    John Morgan Supporting Actor

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    Actually the long version of THE SEA HAWK was the version I grew up with on television. When the first laser came out, it was the shorter rerelease version and I was stumped on why it was cut. I guess the long version made it to 16mm way back when....
     
  7. Joe Caps

    Joe Caps Cinematographer

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    I am a little confused by Mr. Harris saying that the long version of Sea Hawk was unavailable for years.
    In the days before videotaping, I used to record films from tv so I could hear my favorite film scores.
    I taped Sea Hawk, which is and always was the long version on television.
    Captain Blood,however was always the short version.
    the Fox laserdisc (and later the mgm/ua laser whcich seemed to be the same master) used the longer British ending with the addtional speech by Queen elizabeth. Do we get that here on the dvd?
     
  8. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    A great film, and I'm very pleased to hear that the "few words" are positive ones regarding the transfer. [​IMG]

    Why? Anti-nazi rhetoric in a film from 1940 is hardly unusual, though this is certainly not blatant like The Great Dictator.
     
  9. Kain_C

    Kain_C Screenwriter

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    Never heard of this one, but of course since I am a young guy.

    I will however add it to my Netflix queue based on the word here on this thread and the fact that I need to see Errol Flynn films.
     
  10. MichaelSloan

    MichaelSloan Stunt Coordinator

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    It's as good as Robert Harris says it is but then does it have any special features?
     
  11. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Joe,
    I'm confused by your comments above. The ending with Queen Elizabeth giving a war morale speech is in "The Sea Hawk" which was filmed in first half of 1940 with Britain at war with Germany. That ending was specifically added for the benefit of British audiances. I read that this film was one of Winston Churchill's favorites. Anyhow, "Captain Blood" was filmed in 1935, prior to when WWII hostilities began in Europe.







    Crawdaddy
     
  12. John Hodson

    John Hodson Producer

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    Not just British audiences [​IMG] It was intended also to draw sympathy from those Americans who were wavering over joining the European conflict. I think it's a great coda, but not quite as spine-tingling as Basil Rathbone's speech at the end of Sherlock Holmes and The Secret Weapon.

    I wish Robert would stop posting these teasers; the anticipation is now so great I may explode... (only joking Robert, keep 'em coming!)
     
  13. Joe Caps

    Joe Caps Cinematographer

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    OOPS - I had changed subjects in midstream. the Longer ending I was talking about was for Sea Hawk. That longer ending had been on the previous laserdiscs and I was wondering if that is what we got here.
     
  14. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    John,
    From what I could remember, I don't think that ending was initially shown to American audiences.






    Crawdaddy
     
  15. John Hodson

    John Hodson Producer

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    Really? I read long ago that that was why it was shot, maybe the isolationists initially had their way (or maybe that was just plain wrong! [​IMG] )
     
  16. Nick Eden

    Nick Eden Stunt Coordinator

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    Let's hope as Robert says this is the first of a number of Flynn boxsets (and Davis, Crawford, Gable, Tracy etc etc).

    Apart from maybe an addition to the ending for The Sea Hawk, I always thought that it was Captain Blood which had been severly truncated. I have had a copy for over 20 years taped from the BBC and this is to the best of my knowledge the full version, but shorter versions did appear to be shown. Perhaps I am wrong on this???????
     
  17. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Both films had been edited before the home video era came upon us.







    Crawdaddy
     
  18. Nick Eden

    Nick Eden Stunt Coordinator

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    Sounds like another resounding success for Warners. Their products just deliver every time!
     
  19. ArthurMy

    ArthurMy Supporting Actor

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    I just finished with The Sea Hawk, which is indeed a wonderful film in every respect. Mr. Harris notes that a good twenty-four minutes of the transfer is from a full-contrast print, and that that should not disturb anyone. It sure would disturb people if it came from Universal or Columbia. [​IMG]

    Most of the transfer is incredible - rich, sharp, with beautiful contrast. The twenty-four minutes look awful - muddy, soft and worn. Should we take Warners to task? No, couldn't be helped, in the same way it can't be helped that Columbia lost many of its negatives in a flood. One only wishes that Mr. Harris would choose to post in those threads wherein people lambast that studio when they issue transfers of films which have less-than-optimal elements. Certainly he knows all about the flood, and because people have such respect for him, it would stop all that carping in a minute.

    I'm looking forward to the other films in the set.
     
  20. John Hodson

    John Hodson Producer

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    Is there any way, any way at all Arthur, to stop you carping about people carping? Or will you just carp about me carping about you carping over those carping carpers? [​IMG]
     

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