Tuesday, December 28, 2010


(December 1935, U.S.)

Many months ago, when I posted my blog for THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, I asked you all to try and open your minds and imagine what it must have been like to watch your favorite movie matinee idols in 1938 on screen in all of their glory. I ask that of you again, and in using your imagination, I also ask you to consider the impact of the hero on screen. When I was growing up in the 1980s and 1990s, the hero came in the form of men like Harrison Ford and Bruce Willis (they were the ones who could ACT, anyway). However, in the decade of the 1930s, there was no greater hero than Errol Flynn. Whether by land, by sea or by air, Errol Flynn WAS the hero (or matinee idol, as they were called) of the time! Imagine a glorious Saturday afternoon at the neighborhood movie house surrounded by other kids your age and watching a spectacular and dashing hero like Errol Flynn on screen! In my opinion, that kind of movie experience died a horrible death such a long time ago!

To truly appreciate a a black and white classic swashbuckling pirate adventure like CAPTAIN BLOOD in our time may not be as unthinkable as one would presume. After all, the last decade saw three PIRATES OF THE CARIBEAN films, right? Actor Johnny Depp may have simply been considered the Errol Flynn of our time (at least as far as pirate films go). The interesting plot point about CAPTAIN BLOOD is that Flynn's character Peter Blood does not start out as a pirate. He is, rather, an Irish physician who is wrongly accused and sentenced for treating the injuries of a treasonous rebel against the unjust King James II of England. Peter Blood and the surviving rebels are sold into slavery in the English colony of Port Royal and eventually secure an enemy's pirate ship to become pirates themselves. The hunted have now become the hunters, equipped with all measures of thievery, pillaging and destruction. Later in the film, when Blood and his mates learn that King James II has been deposed in the Glorious Revolution and that they've been asked by the new king, William of Orange, to offer their fight and support with the Royal Navy to Blood, they joyfully change their positions at this good news and prepare for battle against the French. So in the end, the bad guys who are supposed to be pirates becomes heros of their country. And speaking of French, I have to say that British actor Basil Rathbone gives, perhaps, the WORST French accent I've ever heard on film. The battle scenes and the special effects that accompany them are far more impressive than you might expect for a film of the 1930s. The film was a Christmas release, but could have easily qualified as a summer blockbuster, if they even existed back then.

By the way, if you were ever a fan of Hal Roach's OUR GANG (or "The Little Rascals"), keep a sharp eye out for little Matthew Beard, the kid who played "Stymie", now playing a litte slave to an English governor.

Favorite line or dialogue:

Captain Peter Blood: "Men, I've just heard a startling piece of news - King James is kicked out of England and good King William reigns in his stead! For me this changes the shape of the world. For you who were slaves with me, it means that we're no longer slaves, that we once more have a home and a country. For you who are English it means a chance to fight for your native land...for I now propose to sail into Port Royal and take it from the French! Those of you who are not English will have to be content with fighting for Captain Blood...and the loot you'll find on the French ships. Are you willing to fight, men?"
Men: "Aye!"

1 comment:

  1. I watched The Rocketeer today, and remembered how Timothy Dalton's character is based on Errol Flynn. The Nazi spy stuff was B.S. from a Charles Higham biography, Flynn was no more a Nazi than Clark Gable. He was a movie star, one of the greatest of all time. The Adventures of Robin Hood is my favorite film. Errol Flynn should always be remembered as part of the Golden Age of Hollywood. By the way, The Rocketeer is a terrific film in the old adventure style.