Captain Horatio Hornblower (1951)

Captain Horatio Hornblower (1951)

“I’m not worried — not with Captain Hornblower!”

During the Napoleonic Wars, British Captain Horatio Hornblower (Gregory Peck) delivers arms to a megalomaniac South American dictator (Alec Mango), then learns that Britain is newly allied with Spain; meanwhile, he picks up and falls in love with a beautiful passenger, Lady Barbara (Virginia Mayo) — but can their romance last beyond the seas?

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • At Sea
  • Christopher Lee Films
  • Gregory Peck Films
  • Historical Drama
  • Raoul Walsh Films
  • Romance
  • Virginia Mayo Films

Raoul Walsh directed this Technicolor adaptation of C.S. Forester’s popular Horatio Hornblower novels, featuring a courageous and skilled seaman who handles all military and personnel crises with aplomb, yet harumphs with nerves when faced with a beautiful woman. Peck and Mayo make a lovely couple (naturally):

… and it’s enjoyable seeing Mayo emerge as a worthy and invaluable member of the crew. However, it’s the naval adventures that most interested viewers will be curious to watch, and there’s plenty of that.

Unfortunately, Mango’s role in dark-face as the deranged “El Supremo” is demeaningly stereotypical, and truly cringe-worthy:

Thank goodness he doesn’t take up too much screentime. Meanwhile, watch for young Christopher Lee in one of his first supporting roles, playing a Spanish captain.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Fine Technicolor cinematography

Must See?
No, though it’s worth a one-time look if you’re curious.


One thought on “Captain Horatio Hornblower (1951)

  1. Not must-see.

    One viewing was enough for this one. As I recall, I didn’t really take to it and wouldn’t be inclined to watch it again. Give me Sinbad – or Captain Ahab. 😉

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