Captain Blood (1935)
“I’ve resented you because you’re beautiful, and I’m a slave. Do you understand that?”
Response to Peary’s Review:
He adds that a highlight of the film is the “Flynn-Basil Rathbone swordfight-to-the-death on a rocky beach, during which the opponents smile constantly” — and that the inaugural on-screen pairing of beautiful young de Havilland and Flynn represents “one of the cinema’s truly wonderful romantic teams”.
Indeed, fans of swashbuckling romantic dramas will find much to enjoy here, though I’ll admit it’s not a personal favorite: I’m not thrilled by the buffoonish nobility, Rathbone’s faux-French accent, or Flynn’s hairstyle (!). In the film’s favor are marvelous cinematography (by Ernest Haller and Hal Mohr), rousing action scenes (Curtiz is indeed masterful), and Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s “excellent” debut score. As a curiosity, listen for Blood’s surprisingly forthright and graphic proclamation that “If a man molest a woman captive against her will, he, too, shall receive the same punishment.”
Note: Sadly, supporting character Ross Alexander — who plays Jeremy, the ship’s navigator — had a tragic (closeted gay) personal life and killed himself just after this film was made.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)
2 thoughts on “Captain Blood (1935)”
First viewing – a once-must, for Curtiz’s typically sturdy direction, the cinematography (coupled with some terrific editing), and for Korngold’s score.
As my viewing reached its end, I found myself thinking this is an admirable and accomplished piece of work – even if, as agreed on above, “it’s not a personal favorite”. The storytelling is fine and engaging (there’s much to appreciate in the script) and the cast does solid work.
But I did remain mostly captured by how the film itself was put together – thanks to the three elements I first mentioned. While this may not be seen as a great film in the library of classics, it certainly does fulfill all of the basics of traditional Hollywood filmmaking and, as such, is worthy of attention.
Obviously a must as a classic and one of Flynn’s earliest hits.
Florid, robust action melodrama.