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

25 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.

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