Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Sea Hawk (1924)

Director: Frank Lloyd

Starring: Milton Sills, Enid Bennett, Lloyd Hughes, Wallace Beery

More info: IMDb

Plot: The adventures of Oliver Tressilian, who goes from English gentry to galley slave to captain of a Moorish fighting ship, all the while trying to regain his lady love.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again? Maybe, but not before I see the Errol Flynn version a few more times first.

I've loved everything pirates ever since I can remember. Like a lot of children, I wanted to be a pirate, swashbuckling my way across the seven seas, plundering all I could see. Raping hadn't entered the picture...cause...I was a kid. That aspect never really took but I would use some serious charm to win the ladies over to my side. Anyway, my love of the romanticized world of pirates never faded. Years ago I even went so far as to get a tattoo of a Jolly Roger (skull and crossed swords) below the waistline (true story). Here's what it looks like...

Impressive, ain't it? The tattoo, that is.

So with the impending 4th PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN flick coming out next week I thought I'd start watching a bootyload of pirate flicks from way back when. For what it's worth, I LOVED the first PotC movie and hated the 2nd and 3rd. The reviews for the 4th are dreadful. The only reason I'd like to see it is for Ian McShane as Blackbeard. He's a badass but with having been burned by PotC 2 and 3 AND most people hating the 4th, I'll give it a pass at the theater. I can't support overblown shit like that. So, instead, I turned to the oldest pirate movie I've got. 1924's THE SEA HAWK.

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the 1940 Errol Flynn film. I've seen it many, many times. Although they're both based on the Rafael Sabatini novel, the 1940 version has very little to do with Sabatini's story while the 1924 film remains faithful to it. So what you get are two different movies, each with something to offer. I do prefer the Flynn flick for several reasons which I'll get to when I watch that one soon. I did like the silent film, however, it takes about a half hour of melodramatic he loves her, his brother betrays him and someone doesn't want a certain someone to marry his daughter, blah, blah, blah, but once Sir Oliver finds his way as a galley slave aboard a ship, it's smooth sailing for the next hour and a half. That's right, this flick is 122 minutes long so if you've never seen a silent film before, this probably isn't the one to start with. The only sound you get is a might fine organ score.

There's plenty of swashbuckling, ship battles and action to fill out the picture. You also get lots of tinted scenes - blue for night, sepia for day, etc which add to the color (no pun intended) of the film. And for a silent picture, there's not as much over the top acting as you sometimes get. You know, the back of the hand thrusting on the forehead when someone is distressed. To really enjoy a silent film you often have to put yourself in that time period; otherwise you'll think it's just a silly outdated form of storytelling. I've seen quite a few but they've been limited to comedy, action, adventure and horror. THE SEA HAWK is quite entertaining but my love of all things Errol Flynn and the 1940 version dampen it just a little. Now take Erich Korngold's score from 1940 and put it with the 1924 one and you've got yourself one helluva picture. That'd make any movie better...even the PotC flicks!

THE SEA HAWK (1924) is now available from the Warner Bros. Archive Collection.

More info on silent films: The Silent Film Still Archive and Strictly Vintage Hollywood.

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