“By now you know the purpose of the Sea Hawks: in our own way to serve England and the Queen.”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
Response to Peary’s Review:
While I find nearly every aspect of this adventure flick to be in fine order, I’ll admit that Flora Robson’s “splendid” performance as Queen Elizabeth I remains its greatest personal enjoyment for me. As Peary so accurately explains, Robson presents the Queen “not as a man in a woman’s body but a woman of intelligence, wit, high spirits, temper, strength, and love for country and subjects; she’s no prude, she just prefers ruling men to loving them”. And speaking of its historical grounding, the parallels made between the film’s “imperialist and evil” Spain of 1585 and Nazi Germany are indeed — as many have pointed out — rather overt, with Robson “start[ing] out like Neville Chamberlain, willing to appease the aggressors rather than risk war”, but eventually “becom[ing] as dogged as Winston Churchill”. As Peary argues, much like 1942’s Casablanca (also directed by Curtiz), this is ultimately a thinly “veiled propaganda piece that attempts to get Americans solidly into the war effort” — but it’s easy to overlook such metaphorical heavy-handedness in the face of what amounts to a bracingly vigorous, finely mounted adventure flick in its own right.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments: