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Friday Film Review: Captain Blood

Captain Blood (1935)
Captain Blood (DVD 2005 Turner Entertainment Co and Warner Bros Entertainment)
Grade A-
Genre: Romance/Swashbuckling/Pirate

I had so much fun doing my last Friday Film review that I decided to comb through my DVD collection and see what else might be suitable. Captain Blood is one of the epic pirate movies which set the standard for Hollywood historical action films for years to come. I first saw this as a teenager. I loved it! And then I discovered it was an adaptation from a book so I hunted that down and, wait a minute!, the author, Rafael Sabatini, wrote lots of similarly styled books. I was in heaven then. So not only did I fall in love with the movie but I ended up getting years of reading enjoyment out of it. Not a bad bargain.

Peter Blood, bachelor of medicine, is caught up against his will in the attempt to overthrow King James II (boo hiss). Called out to tend to a wounded rebel, Blood cares little for the man’s politics until he too is swept up by the King’s soldiers and sent to jail to await trial with the rest of the rebels. There he’s condemned and faces death until the King decides to make use of this free labor by sending the traitors to be sold as plantation slaves in Jamaica.

There Peter Blood is bought by a pretty young woman, Arabella Bishop, when Blood’s pride almost condemns him to be bought by the worst slaver on the island. Not long after that, the town is attacked by the Spanish and, in a turn of fate, Blood and his fellow slaves take the chance to capture the Spanish galleon and head to sea, thus becoming outlaws. With no other choice open to them, the former slaves are forced into piracy. In Blood, they’ve found the perfect leader for he had once sailed under a famous Naval captain and many of his crew were in the English Navy.

But Blood sails with a heavy heart since he now believes that Arabella is forever lost to him while she is saddened to learn of what he’s done with his chance of freedom. Three years later, fate throws them together again after Arabella, returning from England with the new English envoy to the islands, is captured by one of Blood’s associates. Just as he was once bought, now he buys her from the wicked Captain Levasseur only to end up in a duel to the death to claim her.

Arabella’s cutting comment to Peter that he’s now a “thief and a pirate” is so true to her character. She tells it like she sees it. But secretly, she has been in love with Peter all along and when she imagines what he’s done over the years, she’s heartbroken at this waste of such a good man. It’s not until they’ve spent a little more time together, and she sees what danger he’s willing to put himself in for her sake and for England, that she sees how much he’s restrained himself over the years, and all for her memory.

As Peter then tells Arabella, he senses that his long journey is finally near its end. But will he be able to claim her heart, which almost everyone but he can easily see is already his, or will a final sea battle be the end of Captain Blood?

Olivia de Havilland is a her luminous, lovely best. She’s one of those wonderful mercurial actresses who can play beautiful or plain (watch her in “The Heiress”). Here she’s a fresh faced young woman who is intelligent, has a sense of humor and can handle herself in a crisis. It’s no wonder Peter Blood finds himself attracted to her, against his will, before he finally gives in and puts his heart on his sleeve, though his men think it’s just his ironical sense of humor, by naming his captured ship after her.

Errol Flynn rocketed to stardom because of this film and it would have been unbelievable if he hadn’t. This is Flynn at his charismatic best. The camera loves him, he’s got the starring role, great lines, a fantastic swashbuckling fight scene – how could he have missed? Even yelling lines that weren’t in the script due to the fever he was suffering from during the filming, he captures the eye of the viewer and dominates his scenes.

Flynn and de Havilland start their long partnership here and together they shine. They can play the adversaries who we know will fall in love and they play them well. It’s easy to see why each falls for the other and why, three years later when they finally meet again, each has, unconsciously, waited for the other. Their last scene, when they finally admit the truth of their hearts, is wonderful.

Another actor who begins a relationship with Flynn and de Havilland is Basil Rathbone. He’s the evil Capitaine Levasseur and the one who duels with Peter Blood for the fair Arabella across surf drenched beach and up and down rocks. When I say I want swashbuckling in my pirate books, THIS is what I mean. Rathbone was known as one of the best fencers in Hollywood and Flynn’s natural athletic ability allowed him to put on a good show. No, it’s probably not technically that difficult a fight but it’s filmed well, filled with signature close ups and fun to watch.

Michael Curtiz directs and managed to coach Flynn past his initial nerves and into the position of Hollywood superstar. Watch for his signature use of shadows and camera angles. The film has a fantastic, rousing score which opens the movie and plays behind the fight scenes. But Korngold, who managed to score the film in only three weeks, also includes a tender refrain for Peter and Arabella’s delayed love. From the first drumroll and fanfare, it sweeps the scenes along and helps convey all the emotions the director wants us to feel.

The movie is a pared down version of the book but given the amount of fun stuff Sabatini gives Blood to do and accomplish, there would be no way to include it all short of a many episode miniseries. But I don’t think anything major was left out and as it is, the movie is a bit more romantic than the book since a lot of the intervening years, when Peter and Arabella are separated, is cut down.

Lots of the secondary characters from the book are here including Jeremy Pitt, Hagthorpe, Ogle, Wolverstone, the incompetent doctors, the dread Baron Jeffreys of the Bloody Assizes and of course Colonel Bishop. Though filmed in California, and with only scale sized ships, it has the appearance of being in the Caribbean and under full sail.

The region 1 DVD I have is black and white, features spoken dialogue in English and French and comes with English, French and Spanish subtitles. There’s a nice “making of” featurette which goes into a lot about the period in which the film was made, the casting, the direction, the music and the dueling, among other things. I believe there is also a region 2 version.

While maybe not their best film pairing, Captain Blood is the first real American glimpse of Flynn and de Havilland and it’s a delightful one. This is the film which showed Warner Bros it had two new stars and which caused the studio to feature them together several more times. And over 70 years later, it still holds up beautifully and still charms me whenever I watch it. A-

~Jayne

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

66 Comments

  1. DS
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 05:55:41

    I was trying to tell someone about this film about a week ago! I also loved the book (and its sequels). Our library’s only copy when I was a kid was a tattered photoplay volume with stills from the movie as illustrations. A friend of my recently grabbed Scaramouche from my bookshelf to read and I ended up reminiscing to her about the various books by Rafael Sabatini I had read and enjoyed– and how they shaped my love of certain historical periods (pirates! and condottiere!) way before Disney.

    Glad you reviewed this movie.

  2. Jayne
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 06:10:02

    I love how Sabatini puts his characters in what you think will be in impossible situation to get out of — and then gets them out of it in a believable way. I wish more of his books had been made into movies – or at least movies that remotely resembled the books which “The Black Swan” and “The Seahawk,” though I enjoy them both, don’t.

    I was reading viewer comments on “Captain Blood’ at IMDB and one person, who loves the movie, said he had heard people saying it was boring. I sat there, goggled eyed. (o-O) Boring? WTF? It’s much better than *those other* recent pirate movies, IMO.

  3. Toddson
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 06:44:26

    Scaramouche has one of the BEST opening lines ever – “He was born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad.”

  4. Kathleen MacIver
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 06:45:00

    One of my favorites! My mom raised me on the old movies, and I loved this one, the Robin Hood they did, the old Prisoner of Zenda, Scarecrow, and another one that I can remember very clearly, but can’t remember the name of it or any of the actor’s names.

    This movie I can’t remember had two heroes and two heroines, and it was set in Medieval England. I’m thinking the actor that played the first hero was Tony something or other. He was a shorter guy (for an actor), I think, with dark hair. The woman he loved had blond hair…her name might have been Janet something or other. Anyway, it was set in the war of the Roses, or something like that, because I think the word Rose was in the movie’s title. But the two men fell in love with women they weren’t supposed to, and I remember this one scene where they sneaked over the walls into the garden to see the women. They used huge vines that clung to the walls. They surprised the women, who quickly sent the servants away. I can hear her voice as she did it, I can see the whole garden, I can remember the kissing scenes…the two couples in different sections of the garden going at it at once. (Obviously I was at that age.) But I can’t find it for my kids to enjoy! They’ve watched the Eroll Flynn and Olivia de Haviland Robin Hood eight times this week (it’s nice to hand them an adventure movie without things I consider them too young to watch)…and they’d like this one too.

    Anyone know what movie I’m talking about?

  5. Jayne
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 06:47:42

    Tony Curtis was the dark haired hero and the title is “The Black Shield of Falworth.”

  6. Jayne
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 06:49:59

    Wait, more info. Janet Leigh was his heroine and here’s the imbd link.

  7. Jayne
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 06:55:16

    Toddson, that’s a fabulous opening line. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen that movie and I can’t remember how close it is to the book. Stuart Granger was great and it looks like Janet Leigh was in that one too. Boy, she was everywhere that decade.

  8. Kathleen MacIver
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 07:06:18

    Yes, yes, yes, Jayne!!! Thank you!!!! (So much for Rose in the name.)

  9. Louisa Edwards
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 07:11:06

    How much do I love you for this? SO MUCH. Errol Flynn, womanizing scumbag though he might have been in real life, is the essence of swashbuckling awesomeness. Have you seen Against All Flags? My favorite, I think, because of Maureen O’Hara as spirited lady pirate. She actually goes by “Spitfire”. Win!

  10. Jayne
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 07:12:47

    LOL, glad to help a sister out.

  11. Jayne
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 07:17:43

    How much do I love you for this? SO MUCH. Errol Flynn, womanizing scumbag though he might have been in real life, is the essence of swashbuckling awesomeness. Have you seen Against All Flags? My favorite, I think, because of Maureen O'Hara as spirited lady pirate. She actually goes by “Spitfire”. Win!

    Yeah, he was pretty much a scumbag in real life though I did discover that he didn’t dodge military service in WWII but in truth was turned down by every branch of the military due to his health conditions.

    I enjoy “Against All Flags” but in all honesty, he was starting to show his indulgences by then. Still, Maureen O’Hara was great here. Have you seen her in “The Spanish Main?” Another little seen golden oldie pirate movie with Paul Henreid. And of course she’s great in “The Black Swan” with Tyrone Power.

  12. Aoife
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 07:21:01

    I haven’t read Captain Blood, or seen the movie in years, but this review does a great job of describing everything I used to love about both versions. My favorite Sabatini used to be Scaramouche, and you’ve inspired me to chase down a copy to see if I still love it as much as I did 40+ years ago.

    I love looking at the stills of Flynn in his early movies, before his lifestyle caught up with him!

  13. Kathleen MacIver
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 07:21:40

    Ooooh! I’d forgotten about Against All Flags. And Seahawk. And The Black Swan ::scribbles down list:: I remember loving Tyrone Powers’ old Zorro, too, though it’s been so long since I saw it, that I don’t really remember how well it was or was not done.

    (And seriously, Jayne, I have been trying to remember the title of that movie for three years!)

  14. Jayne
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 07:24:53

    I love looking at the stills of Flynn in his early movies, before his lifestyle caught up with him!

    That was a damn shame how he went to pot but the man did enjoy his life.

    I hope that “Scaramouche” holds up for you.

  15. Jayne
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 07:28:48

    Kathleen, I can easily remember the garden scene you described. I think I first saw “Falworth” when I was about 13 years old – and if I remember correctly – I was reading “Captain Blood” for the first time the same summer. Ahhh, great memories.

  16. BevBB
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 07:49:36

    I so feel a swashbuckler binge coming on. Too bad I have too much to do today. Maybe this weekend. ;)

  17. Jayne
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 08:01:42

    I remember loving Tyrone Powers' old Zorro, too, though it's been so long since I saw it, that I don't really remember how well it was or was not done.

    Oh yes. Great movie with Linda Darnell. Alain Delon also did a nice Zorro in 1975.

  18. Cathy
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 08:13:52

    Thanks for reviewing this wonderful classic. Must remember to add it to my Netflix queue.

    This reminds me of something funny from the documentaries on the Lord of the Rings DVDs. One of the stunt people is talking to the camera about how excited she was to work with Bob Anderson, the swordmaster. The woman recounts the story of how she went up to Anderson and said how neat it was that he was the guy in Darth Vader’s suit during the fight with Obi Wan Kenobi in epsiode IV. Anderson said yes, that was neat, but he was more proud of being the fighting double for Errol Flynn in Captain Blood. The stuntwoman said she agreed with him and continued the conversation, and then when she went home that night, called her mom and said “Ma, who’s Errol Flynn?”

  19. KA Mitchell
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 08:54:01

    Is The Black Shield of Falworth the “Yonder is the castle of my fadder” one?

    As much as I love Errol Flynn’s movies, I want to throw in Frenchman’s Creek and Forever Amber and for books on the swashbuckling binge Valerie Sherwood’s pirate books from the seventies and eighties. All of these books and movies are the foundation of my love of romance. If you haven’t ever read Sherwood’s Lovesong, Windsong, Nightsong trilogy go and do that right now. But you can’t have my copies.

  20. Kalen Hughes
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 08:55:54

    This is Flynn at his charismatic best. The camera loves him, he's got the starring role, great lines, a fantastic swashbuckling fight scene – how could he have missed?

    He had the most amazing smile I’ve ever seen. I can watch this film over and over . . .

    If you haven’t read Captian Blood, it’s avaible free on Project Gutenberg (as are most of Sabatini’s other books).

  21. Meljean
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 09:15:39

    Oh, this is one of my favorites. The first time I watched it I was in my teens, and expected to be bored all the way through (despite having read and enjoyed the novel). The movie made me an Errol Flynn fangirl instead.

  22. Jane O
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 09:37:08

    How can you leave out Burt Lancaster -‘ The Crimson Pirate and The Flame and the Arrow?

    The Prisoner of Zenda has to be the Ronald Colman/Douglas Fairbanks Jr. version. They are perfect.

    And while I’m on Fairbanks, his Sinbad the Sailor has a special place in my heart, being the first movie I ever saw as a child without my parents.

  23. Kathleen MacIver
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 09:54:50

    Hmmm… I didn’t know there were several versions of The Prisoner of Zenda. I went looking, and the one I saw over and over again was the 1952. Reviewers say that the 1937 one was better, so I guess I’ll have to see if I can dig that up somewhere…

  24. Karen
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 10:11:01

    I’ve always LOVED Captain Blood. Errol Flynn’s smile is glorious, the scene in Blood’s shipboard cabin when he and Arabella snipe at each other is perfect, and the beach duel is great. I remember lying on the couch on a lazy summer afternoon when I was about ten, watching this movie and being thoroughly drawn into it.

  25. Aoife
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 10:12:01

    I started thinking about other old romantic swashbucklers: does anyone else remember Richard Greene as Robin Hood? He was also in a film called Captain Scarlett, about which I can remember nothing except it seemed very Captain Blood-ish. About the same time there was a TV series called The Buccaneers, which featured Robert Shaw, and which reminds me of a cross between Captain Blood and Pirates of the Caribbean.

    Wow. Am I really showing my age or what!

  26. Kathleen MacIver
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 10:38:18

    Yep, we watched and loved that Robin Hood, too. I had my favorite parts in both versions…and quite frankly, I still enjoy both of these old versions better than Kevin Costner’s! (And I don’t know that you’re showing your age. I’m 32, and I grew up watching these.)

    Three more movies we watched over and over again:

    -The old Greer Garson and Sir Lawrence Olivier version Pride & Prejudice, which has terribly inaccurate costuming and took liberties with the plot, but I STILL think Greer portrayed Elizabeth better than either of the newer actor did.
    -The Scarlet Pimpernel (The one with Jane Seymour, Anthony Andrews, and Ian McClellen. Good swordfight at the end of that one, too, on top of an amazingly well-done plotline. And this one isn’t so old…I think it was done when I was a teen.)
    -The Swamp Fox TV series, recorded on VHS, with a young Leslie Nealson before he turned to comedy. (Not so old, either.)

  27. Susan/DC
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 10:38:56

    Be still my beating heart — Pirates! Swordfights! Damsels in distress! Miscarriages of justice! Smart women and beautiful men! I discovered “Captain Blood” when my boys were young and I was looking for something for them to watch on a rainy weekend. The whole family loved it. I then recommended it to a friend and her whole family loved it. How could a movie loved by both genders and various ages, which garnered five exclamation marks, be boring? So much for putting faith in Amazon reviewers.

  28. Kalen Hughes
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 11:04:53

    So much for putting faith in Amazon reviewers.

    I had a friend in college who announced that I wasn’t allowed to pick out movies anymore because I always chose the “boring black and white ones”. *sigh* She wasn’t a good friend, but still . . . somehow the fact that it wasn't in colour simply = “boring” to her, regardless of how great the film was.

  29. ReacherFan
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 11:18:28

    He also starred in the remake of another Sabatini book, The Sea Hawk but it was the athletic Stewart Granger that took the lead in Scaramouche. (for those who care this one is in color)

    It’s funny, but my favorite pirate film (I’ll ignore Johnny Depp here, which is amazing hard to do) is The Crimson Pirate (also in color) with Burt Reynolds. He’s shirtless much of the time and did almost all his own stunts. But him in drag at a party to grab his lady love is a moment to remember.

    You really must do a reviews of more of the buckle and swash films. :-)

  30. ReacherFan
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 11:22:55

    Oh yes – and never forget Yul Brenner as none other than John Lafitte in The Buccaneer!!!!!!! and yes, that’s Charlton Heston done up with gray hair to be Andrew Jackson.

  31. CupK8
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 11:41:23

    See, now I am going to go to the used bookstore and hunt down some Sabatini. And probably find the DVD as well. I love me some swashbuckling!

  32. Jane O
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 11:45:38

    It's funny, but my favorite pirate film (I'll ignore Johnny Depp here, which is amazing hard to do) is The Crimson Pirate (also in color) with Burt Reynolds. He's shirtless much of the time and did almost all his own stunts. But him in drag at a party to grab his lady love is a moment to remember.

    Burt LANCASTER! Burt LANCASTER!
    (He starred in my favorite movies.)

  33. Caz
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 12:01:01

    Another fantastic film choice – you’re picking my favourites (!)

    Last weekend was the 100th anniversary of Flynn’s birth – I was disappointed that there wasn’t a day of his films on; but TCM here did show “The Adventures of Robin Hood”, which is probably my favourite, not least because of Korngold’s amazing score.

    I love old movies, and I’m bringing up my kids (who are 9 and 6) to love them, too. I get so annoyed with people who won’t even consider watching a film because it’s in black and white.

  34. Claudia Dain
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 13:03:54

    I love this film! Errol Flynn had a magnetic quality. Star power, was the old word for it.

    My kids grew up watching old movies, thanks to me. (Taking a bow.) When my college aged son went with a gang of his friends to see Wall-E, which is a lovely movie, the whole opening sequence with the robot watching the romantic movie clip…well, my son knew what movie that was from and NO ONE else did. They missed a cultural reference! Can you believe it?

    As my son said when he told me, “London…Paris…Yonkers.” Hello, Dolly!

  35. ReacherFan
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 13:10:22

    LOL – Burt Lancaster! What can I say, my mind wanders on its own at times. I had Burt – complete with stripped pants and bare chest and amazing smile that was his alone – in my head and completely forgot myself.

    Never been a fan of Burt Reynolds.

    And damn, those books are GOOD!

  36. Angelia Sparrow
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 16:34:09

    Naomi and I have been on a Flynn binge for about a year and a half. We’ve seen most of his filmography, read a few books both about and by him (including his romance novel, Showdown). And Captain Blood was what started it.

    I only saw Captain Blood four years ago, And Robin Hood in 2007. Before that as a child, I used to watch Looney Tunes cartoons obsessively, waiting for Rabbit Hood and that tiny glimpse of “the real Robin” at the end.

    For those who want them, the Sabatini books are available in e-book from Project Gutenburg.

    Robin Hood is one of my favorites, and the special features make the disc even better. The Big Boodle can be safely skipped. The Sun Also Rises is nearly painful to watch, as he fits the part of an alcoholic bankrupt so well.

    @Caz, we’re right there with you on the crankiness about the 100th going unmarked. But it’s typical of the studio disrespect.

    Olivia DeHavilland is always brilliant. I don’t think I’ve seen her turn in a bad performance. And Rathbone took up fencing as a sport after Captain Blood, since it fascinated him. He once told Flynn, “You may have to win on screen, but I can kill you any time I want. Watch yourself.”

  37. Jayne
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 17:34:40

    How can you leave out Burt Lancaster -‘ The Crimson Pirate and The Flame and the Arrow?

    How could I?! My only excuse is early morning tiredness. I totally agree that Lancaster is fantastic in both films. I had no idea he did most – or was it all? – of his own stunts in the films until years after I first saw them.

  38. Jayne
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 17:37:37

    the scene in Blood's shipboard cabin when he and Arabella snipe at each other is perfect, and the beach duel is great. I remember lying on the couch on a lazy summer afternoon when I was about ten, watching this movie and being thoroughly drawn into it.

    And didn’t you love the size of those shipboard cabins? Those things are the size of a delux suite! It wasn’t until later that I discovered how small they normally are.

  39. Jayne
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 17:44:03

    Olivia DeHavilland is always brilliant. I don't think I've seen her turn in a bad performance. And Rathbone took up fencing as a sport after Captain Blood, since it fascinated him. He once told Flynn, “You may have to win on screen, but I can kill you any time I want. Watch yourself.”

    LOL, too funny! I love the Flynn/de Havilland version of Robin Hood too – and need to check out the DVD and it’s extras – but they’re also fantastic in “Dodge City” if anyone likes old westerns.

  40. Jayne
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 17:49:13

    For those who’ve been inspired to check out Sabatini’s books, be aware that he wrote in an older, more dense – shall I say? – style and it might take a little while to get into his novels. I would start with Captain Blood, The Seahawk, or The Black Swan first then move into the others. The romance is understated and you usually have to wait until near the end for the payoff but the moments are worth the wait, IMO.

  41. Cristiane
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 18:02:36

    Oh, God, Errol Flynn and Olivia De Havilland were two of the most unbelievably beautiful people EVER on film. (Only perhaps surpassed by Paul Newman and Ava Gardner.) Captain Blood is one of my favorite Flynn/De Havilland movies, second only to Robin Hood. And I cannot agree more with those people who posted before about the 1937 Prisoner of Zenda – the 1952 version is almost completely a shot-for-shot remake. Ronald Colman and Madeleine Carroll were also gorgeous, and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. was no slouch either. I adored the Zenda books – real swashbuckling fun, although the sequel to Prisoner, Rupert of Hentzau, has a very sad ending. I also LOVE the 1935 Scarlet Pimpernel, which starred one of my all time favorite actors, Leslie Howard. He also did a WWII take on the same kind of character, Pimpernel Smith – great fun.

  42. Jayne
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 19:00:37

    Is The Black Shield of Falworth the “Yonder is the castle of my fadder” one?

    Oh, dearie. I’d forgotten this line. ;) Another wonderful pairing of Curtis and Leigh is the (contemporary for its time) “The Perfect Furlough.”

  43. Moth
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 19:29:43

    I was going to bring up Tyrone Power’s Mark of Zorro but I see others already have. I love that movie, personally. I think it’s clever and funny. (My favorite part is the priest cracking skulls during the fight scene: “*bonk* God forgive me. *bonk* God forgive me! *bonk*”

    I’m a really big old movie junkie, tho. I grew up with AMC on in the background all the time. Discovered some great movies that way.

    I love Flynn’s Robin Hood too. The romance with Marian is so cute in that movie.

    And this might earn me recriminations but I actually really liked the first Pirates of the Caribbean. (We won’t talk about the sequels or the blasphemy they perpetrated on my favorite ride EVER! But the movie is good.).

    Crimson Pirate was good too. Although it’s been a couple years since I watched it.

    @Kathleen MacIver

    -The Scarlet Pimpernel (The one with Jane Seymour, Anthony Andrews, and Ian McClellen. Good swordfight at the end of that one, too, on top of an amazingly well-done plotline. And this one isn't so old…I think it was done when I was a teen.)

    This actually holds up really well. It’s out on DVD right now and me and my boyfriend watch it occasionally when we’re having movie night. In fact, I liked this movie more than D’Orczy’s book.

    -The Swamp Fox TV series, recorded on VHS, with a young Leslie Nealson before he turned to comedy. (Not so old, either.)

    OMG! My mom got me into this show one summer. I used to stay up really late and I discovered it was playing on the Disney channel at 5am so I recorded all the old episodes and we watched them together. She still tortures me sometimes with the theme song: “Swamp Fox, Swamp Fox, tail on his hat. Nobody know where the swamp fox at!” I think my favorite episode was when they killed Young Gabe. Man that kid used to piss me off. And Leslie Nielson was BEAUTIFUL when he was younger.

    I was thinking we should have a sword and sandal movie next (if Jayne felt so inclined and was still on an old movie binge). Unfortunately, all the old ones I can think of usually end up in uber-preachy land and/or end with all the main characters getting crucified. Demetrius and the Gladiators has a happy ending but the romance in that is very understated, and actually, who would go for the sweet slavegirl when you’ve got hotty Messalina throwing herself at you? Quo Vadis has a mostly happy ending. Spartacus and The Robe have great romances but pretty much everybody’s dead by the end…And I can’t think of any other good sword and sandals.

    Has anyone else ever seen The Last Days of Pompeii TV mini-series from the 70s? Lydon the Gladiator. Mm mm. That man was a stone cold fox… Sorry, what were we talking about? :)

  44. BevBB
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 19:50:22

    Been out all day and couldn’t post earlier so just let me say I pretty much like all the ones talked about. Give me an old swashbuckler and I’m happy.

    As to new ones, I have a special fondness for Cutthroat Island. I don’t care how crazy it is, I still love watching that movie.

  45. Keziah Hill
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 20:38:16

    Very good timing! This month is the centenary of Errol Flynn’s birth and down in Tasmania they’re having a festival for one of their favorite sons.
    http://www.flynncentenarycelebration.com.au/film-festival.htm

  46. Cora
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 20:50:26

    I love Flynn’s swashbuckling output as well. As a matter of fact, I watched Captain Blood last weekend, when it was on TV along with The Adventures of Robin Hood in honour of his centennial. A pity Flynn didn’t make more swashbucklers while he was still young and healthy enough.

    People who think movies that are black and white and/or silent and/or more than ten years old are automatically boring are one of my pet peeves.

    I was thinking we should have a sword and sandal movie next (if Jayne felt so inclined and was still on an old movie binge). Unfortunately, all the old ones I can think of usually end up in uber-preachy land and/or end with all the main characters getting crucified. Demetrius and the Gladiators has a happy ending but the romance in that is very understated, and actually, who would go for the sweet slavegirl when you've got hotty Messalina throwing herself at you? Quo Vadis has a mostly happy ending. Spartacus and The Robe have great romances but pretty much everybody's dead by the end…And I can't think of any other good sword and sandals.

    The Italian sword and sandal epics are the best. They have all the good stuff – attractive muscular men clad in little more than a loincloth, lovely women, adventure, romance, swordfights, threats of horrifying death – minus the preachiness that makes the Hollywood epics so dull. Plus, the heroes and heroines in the Italian made sword and sandal epics are usually saved in the nick of time from whatever grisly execution awaits them and survive. Ursus in the Valley of Lions is a really good one with the requisite handsome hero, lovely heroine, sweet romance, grisly public execution thwarted at the last second and amazing animal scenes featuring tamed lions and elephants.

  47. Moth
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 21:36:07

    @Cora
    My problem with all the Italian sword and sandals I tried to sit through was the bad dubbing. I couldn’t get over it. I will be the first to admit, though, I did not watch too many of these films so perhaps there are some where this is not such an issue.

  48. Edie
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 23:20:26

    OMG I love this movie!

    And Errol.. can not get a better example of the stereotypical Aussie bloke.. right down to the self destruction. :(
    He certainly had “something” on the screen.

    And it is soo not an aging thing, I am clinging to my twenties, and watched a lot of the movies mentioned here, as well as all the atrocious musicals ever made, with my nan as a kid. A lot of the movies from then remain my favourites today inc. Captain Blood.
    Errol and Jimmy Stewart also remain as my two favourite male actors.

    Thank-you so much for this review!
    And for introducing me to Sabatini – will definitely have to give some of his work a shot.

  49. Aoife
    Jun 27, 2009 @ 07:52:28

    @Moth

    Has anyone else ever seen The Last Days of Pompeii TV mini-series from the 70s? Lydon the Gladiator. Mm mm. That man was a stone cold fox… Sorry, what were we talking about? :)

    Oh, yes, yes yes! I was telling my daughters about this when they were compulsively watching Rome on HBO. Is it out on DVD? Must look for it.

    @ Kathleen MacIver and Moth

    The Swamp Fox TV series, recorded on VHS, with a young Leslie Nealson before he turned to comedy. (Not so old, either.)

    Funny you should mention this, because I woke up this morning with the Swamp Fox theme running through my head. Talk about ear-worms. Swamp Fox, Swamp Fox, riding through the glen….. I had forgotten that it was Leslie Nielson, not exactly a good physical match for the real Francis Marion!

    @ ReacherFan

    Oh yes – and never forget Yul Brenner as none other than John Lafitte in The Buccaneer!!!!!!! and yes, that's Charlton Heston done up with gray hair to be Andrew Jackson.

    You mentioned the awesomness that was Charlton Heston, but failed to mention that this movie is worth watching just to see Yul Brynner in a wig, a truly memorable sight.

    And, speaking of Charlton Heston, how about El Cid for Medieval romance with the gorgeous Sophia Loren? Tragic ending, but still.

  50. Aoife
    Jun 27, 2009 @ 08:30:01

    Has anyone else ever seen The Last Days of Pompeii TV mini-series from the 70s? Lydon the Gladiator. Mm mm. That man was a stone cold fox… Sorry, what were we talking about? :)

    To bring things full circle:

    The actor who played Lydon was Duncan Regehr, who also was cast as Errol Flynn in the mid-eighties in My Wicked, Wicked Ways, a film based on Flynn’s life.

  51. Jayne
    Jun 27, 2009 @ 09:05:52

    You really must do a reviews of more of the buckle and swash films. :-)

    <

    I plan to. I had no idea I’d get this kind of response to this film!

  52. Moth
    Jun 27, 2009 @ 12:40:50

    @Aoife

    Is it out on DVD? Must look for it.

    Not that me and my mom have been able to discover. We found some bootlegs kicking around the internets but you have to dig for them. It should be, though, dammit!

  53. Angelia Sparrow
    Jun 27, 2009 @ 18:15:55

    @Moth,

    Try Jason and the Argonauts.

    Except for a bad case of stupid in the last 10 minutes, it’s very very good. Ray Harryhausen is in top form. The actors are all passable. The story isn’t too mangled.

    True, Jason does just stand and stare at the skeleton army coming out of the ground when he should run. But the fight scene that follows is completely amazing.

  54. Moth
    Jun 27, 2009 @ 20:16:33

    @Angelia Sparrow

    Try Jason and the Argonauts.

    Oh, I have. Not too bad, but not one of my favorites. And it bugs me that they don’t actually resolve any of the stuff they’re supposed to from the beginning. Jason doesn’t face off his uncle, etc. I mean, I get why, the myth does go way downhill after they get the fleece, but it was old skool Hollywood, why didn’t they just re-write it for the happy ending?

  55. Maili
    Jun 28, 2009 @ 08:19:24

    @Reacherfan

    You really must do a reviews of more of the buckle and swash films. :-)

    Agreed! Jayne did an awesome job.

    I don’t feel affectionate towards almost all films mentioned in this thread as many do, because my aunt, our regular babysitter, was a film fanatic. We watched her favourite types of films too many times.

    I think we watched The King and I at least twenty times. I’m too traumatised to remember how many times we watched Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Ben Hur, Samson and Delilah, Doctor Zhivago (when I hear Lara’s Theme, I feel suicidal), The Greatest Story Ever Told, Roman Holiday, Summer Holiday (Cliff Richard), Calamity Jane and swashbucklers.

    The only films that survived the hell of repeated viewings are The Ugly Dachshund and a couple of Fred Astaire films. I can watch these without my eye twitching like crazy.

    Because of that, I still avoid and dislike westerns (apart from A Duel in the Sun), epics, war drama (show me Reach for the Sky or The Best Years of Our Lives one more time, I’ll slap you silly), and films like My Friend Flicka (“Flicka! Look! It’s Flicka! Oh, Flicka! OH, FLICKA! FLICKA! FLICKA!FLICKA!FLICKA!) with thousands of burning stars.

    Her devotion also gave me somewhat an allergy to Hollywood/British/Indian song-and-dance films, and any musical films that feature Deanna Durbin, Mario Lanza, Gene Kelly, Judy Garland or Irene Dunne(my aunt was a huge fan of these stars).

    But it wasn’t all bad; I’m grateful to her for introducing me to screwball-like comedies, such as My Man Godfrey, It Happened One Night, His Girl Friday, The Lady Eve, some Doris Day films, and directors like Thorold Dickinson, Alexander Mackendrick, Preston Sturges, and Powell & Pressburger.

    Regarding old films, I’m tend to be drawn to drama (Crossfire, The Gentleman’s Agreement, Sweet Smell of Success and Yield to the Night); mystery/noir (Strangers on the Train, The Lady Vanishes, and Gaslight); black comedy (The Horse’s Mouth, Passport to Pimicio, One of Our Dinosaurs is Missing, and some Ealing comedies), and foreign films.

    With that in mind, my taste can be dull and predictable that can cause me to avoid swashbucklers and the like, which is why I’m very grateful for Jayne’s fantastic reviews.

    Thank you, Jayne. :)

  56. Jayne
    Jun 28, 2009 @ 08:44:30

    Woot! And here I was trying to dig up my video copy of “It Started with Eve” to do a musical review. Hmmm, must come up with something else that won’t make Maili twitch…..

  57. Jayne
    Jun 28, 2009 @ 08:46:20

    With that in mind, my taste can be dull and predictable

    HA! This from the woman who gave us half of the “Slither” review.

  58. Maili
    Jun 28, 2009 @ 08:55:44

    And here I was trying to dig up my video copy of “It Started with Eve” to do a musical review. Hmmm, must come up with something else that won't make Maili twitch…..

    Noooo! (clings) Please review it. That way I don’t have to review musicals. I was hoping to leave that sort to you. The other week, I tried to write a review of Singin’ in the Rain (I admitted not seen this film and had no desire to try, and Jane & the others on Twitter threatened to disown me, so I watched it), but I ended up ranting about musicals.

    I will review any film of your choice if you’re willing to review musicals, epics, westerns, swashbucklers, and your favourites.

  59. Jayne
    Jun 28, 2009 @ 09:00:51

    The other week, I tried to write a review of Singin' in the Rain (I admitted not seen this film and had no desire to try, and Jane & the others on Twitter threatened to disown me, so I watched it), but I ended up ranting about musicals.

    I’ve never seen this one either. Debby Reynolds is just too perky for me. Makes my teeth hurt.

    I will review any film of your choice if you're willing to review musicals, epics, westerns and your favourites.

    Deal. How about another film that wouldn’t initially be thought of as a romance? You seem to have a knack for unearthing these.

  60. BevBB
    Jun 28, 2009 @ 09:23:49

    Woot! And here I was trying to dig up my video copy of “It Started with Eve” to do a musical review. Hmmm, must come up with something else that won't make Maili twitch…..

    Okay, but really, am I the only one who thinks making Maili twitch is kinda fun?

    Um, there are Scottish themed movies . . . .

  61. Moth
    Jun 28, 2009 @ 15:15:01

    I like It Started With Eve. That movie’s cute.

    I like the part when she bites him. :)

    This is wildly off-topic but can I recommend Outlander with Jim Caviezel for a

    film that wouldn't initially be thought of as a romance

    ? It’s Histrocial SF, with Vikings and a man-eating space monster. The romance is understated but I think it’s sweet. I just watched it for the first time this weekend and I really enjoyed it.

    Caveat: altho the gore was a little over the top for me at certain points.

  62. Cora
    Jun 30, 2009 @ 19:49:35

    @Moth:

    I live in a country where the vast majority of films are dubbed, so dubbing doesn’t bother me.

  63. Terry
    Jul 08, 2009 @ 22:26:28

    It’s so much fun reading about other people who have enjoyed Captain Blood, and all the other great movies mentioned here. I used to watch all these movies in our basement, in a house in the suburbs. These movies were a great way to escape the junior high and high school cliques. The snotty girls who didn’t talk to me didn’t mean so much after I had seen Captain Blood, etc. I knew there were other worlds to sail to.
    Regarding Olivia de Havilland, one of her great roles is now being played on the internet: that of Rachel Ashley, in Daphne du Maurier’s My Cousin Rachel, with Richard Burton.
    Regarding Olivia’s sister, Joan Fontaine, she also starred in two du Maurier stories, playing a shy girl in Rebecca, and playing a spirited lady of the court in Frenchman’s Creek.
    This last movie was costing $100 for a video copy, and thankfully is now on DVD.
    The movie has its flaws, with Joan being urged to make the movie by David Selznick. (sp?). Some of the parts of the movie in the second half seem contrived.
    But many parts of the movie are great. There is especially a scene where Joan, as Dona St. Columb who is married to a drunk and a gambler, has met a charming pirate, and offering him dinner. While Arturo de Cordova might lose in a vote with Errol Flynn, de Cordova certainly held his own in this film. When Dona and the pirate are discussing the institution of marriage, Dona wistfully notes, “Sometimes country women find their husbands rather dull,” the pirate answers, “They should teach their husbands better manners.”
    The costumes are great, and Dona has to deal with the jealous Basil Rathbone, in a chilling attack that realistically showed domestic violence, and the effect on children.
    Thanks again for reviewing Captain Blood. As a college English teacher, I showed these films, or sections of them, to English 101 students. I was worried that the students would find the films boring, but was gratified to see them respond to the same magic that continues to enchant so many people.

  64. Jayne
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 03:01:38

    Regarding Olivia's sister, Joan Fontaine, she also starred in two du Maurier stories, playing a shy girl in Rebecca, and playing a spirited lady of the court in Frenchman's Creek.

    I love most of this movie. Until the end. I’ll admit that I want to see a HEA which we’re just not going to get with this book or film. Bummer.

    This last movie was costing $100 for a video copy, and thankfully is now on DVD.

    And is there someone in the know who can ‘splain to me why some of these classics or even more recent movies aren’t out on DVD?

  65. medumb
    Aug 04, 2009 @ 02:20:28

    oi! Meljean Brook posted a link to this on twitter:
    http://www.cinematical.com/2009/08/01/captain-blood-remake-heads-for-outer-space/
    a remake in space?

  66. Jayne
    Aug 04, 2009 @ 03:50:34

    Whoa! Captain Blood in outerspaaaaace! That could be srsly cool. But please, enough with Johnny Depp.

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