March 27, 2011

Captain Blood (1935)

This is easily my favorite movie that we've watched thus far.  HIGHLY entertaining, well acted (mostly - but more on that later), well paced, good action, etc.  I honestly have next to no complaints about this film.  I was very interested to see how influential Errol Flynn is though.  Amazingly enough, this is the first Errol Flynn movie I have ever seen (and yes, I do have a bit of a crush on him...or at least on his character of Peter Blood. What a FOX.)

I'm a big fan of the "Pirates of Penzance" (although to be honest I'm a bit more of a fan of the 1982 spoof of it starring Kristi McNichol, Christopher Atkins, and Ted Hamilton) and it's clear that both of these draw heavily from Errol Flynn and Captain Blood.  Ted Hamilton, for example, plays the Pirate King and looks very similar to Captain Blood with the way he wore his hair and clothing, and even just his mannerisms and way of speaking.  It was also very obvious that Cary Elwes drew inspiration from Flynn in both "The Princess Bride" and "Robin Hood: Men in Tights".  I swear Flynn made faces and pronounced words/phrases exactly the same way Elwes does.  I did a double take a couple of times because I'm so familiar with these two roles of Elwes that seeing these mannerisms performed by someone else 50 years before the films I know so well was a little weird.  Cool, but weird.

Here's Ted Hamilton as the Pirate King (because I always had a bit of a crush on him growing up, and now I realize it's because he was channeling Errol Flynn):


Here's a couple more videos, because it's really fun to include them.  The first is the duel scene from "Captain Blood" and the second is the duel scene from "The Princess Bride".  Except for some minor differences they are remarkably similar.  "The Princess Bride" is clearly an homage, which I find pretty cool.  Unfortunately I can't embed either one because the original posters are selfish and don't want to share - jerks.

Actually, now that I've just rewatched both of these clips I see another very clear homage that I missed before.  Inigo Montoya looks almost exactly like Basil Rathbone in "Captain Blood", with the facial hair, long curly hair, and even the scar on his face.  The resemblance there seems to me a bit more obvious even than Cary Elwes to Errol Flynn.  Interesting!

Okay, getting back to the actual review..."Captain Blood" takes place in 1685-1687.  The title cards were very clear about that.  So imagine my surprise when they at one point reference King Philip of Spain.  I'm going to wax history geek here - Philip (or Felipe) did not become king of Spain until 1700.  He was the first of the Bourbon line that is still ruling Spain today.  The Bourbons came to power following a crisis in the Hapsburg line where they could not produce a male heir.  So at the time this movie is set, the king of Spain was actually Charles II.  Thank you, Dr. Nava (my college professor who taught me about this). <3

Honestly, a modicum of research on the part of the filmmakers would have fixed that flub.  So they lose a few points towards realism and believability there.  Ha.

My only other issue with the film was, sadly, the romance.  Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland were destined to be together - they're the two prettiest people in the film.  Naturally they would end up together.  Both acted their parts well...except for the romantic scenes they shared.  For some weird reason these scenes came off as stilted and like they were trying too hard.  The rest of the film they are both quite comfortable in their roles, and even though Flynn often speaks in an overly dramatic fashion it works.  But it doesn't work in those few scenes where they're supposed to be romantic.  It was kind of jarring actually - I'd be enjoying the film immensely and then all of a sudden I'd be groaning and rolling my eyes.  And I LOVE romantic movies. I'm a total sucker for all that mushy crap (and Robin loves to tease me about it too).  I wanted badly to believe in this romance and to be swept away by it like I am with so many other films.  But I just wasn't.  So that was pretty disappointing.

But that's such a small complaint in the grand scheme of things, really.  The movie as a whole was simply fantastic.  It was funny and exciting, kept my interest the entire time, and is one I will probably watch again sometime in the future.

Next week is one of the few I've already seen on this list, and I know I love it:  "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs"!!

1 comment:

  1. Sue and I love Captain Blood. It has been one of our favorite movies for many years. We agree that it is one of the most perfect movies ever made. I am still delighted by the ending, even though I can barely remember the first time I saw the movie and was actually surprised by it.

    However, watching it in this series gave me some perspective. I had not realized just how early the movie is. It is barely five years away from the silent era, and vestiges of silent movie technology are still in evidence. Specifically, the movie makes frequent use of "dialogue boards," although, of course, they are not used for dialogue, since the actors have voices and can speak for themselves. Rather, the boards are used in place of a narrator, to move the action along quickly. We never see Captain Blood and his merry men actually seize a ship, but we believe that it has been done because the boards tell us it has. The boards sometimes seem to divide the movie into acts - which is how they are used in The Sting.

    If modern productions of Pirates of Penzance owe much to Captain Blood, I have to wonder how much Captain Blood owes to earlier productions of Pirates of Penzance. After all, Pirates of Penzance had been on the stage since about 1880, and Errol Flynn had undoubtedly seen the role of the pirate king acted by great stage performers. Moreover, it was W. S. Gilbert, not Raphael Sabatini, who invented kindhearted pirates who never attack a weaker party than themselves.