The Sea Hawk (1940)

Errol Flynn may not have gotten his most famous co-star, Olivia de Havilland, for the final clinch in this historical swashbuckler, but he (or rather, his stunt double), did get to cross swords with Henry Daniell, share scenes with Flora Robson and deliver a timely message at the start of World War II. In search of new material for their top male star, Warner Bros. borrowed the title from a Rafael Sabatini novel they had filmed in 1924, but took their story from “Beggars of the Sea,” Seton I. Miller’s fictionalized account of Sir Frances Drake’s raids on the Spanish fleet during the reign of Elizabeth I. Howard Koch, an ardent anti-fascist, wrote the final script and drew parallels between the King of Spain, who plans to invade England, and Adolf Hitler. He even penned a fervent speech for Elizabeth (Robson) that served as a rallying cry for the Allied nations. Originally, Warner’s assigned the female lead to de Havilland but she was tiring of being Flynn’s damsel in distress so the part went to newcomer Brenda Marshall. There was no problem getting Michael Curtiz to direct. Although he and Flynn disliked each other, they had scored a hit with their first swashbuckler together, Captain Blood (1935), and they delivered again with this film, one many consider the definitive Flynn vehicle.

(d. Michael Curtiz, 127m, 35mm) 

In attendance: Rory Flynn