The Sea Hawk (1940)

127 mins | Adventure | 31 August 1940

Director:

Michael Curtiz

Cinematographer:

Sol Polito

Editor:

George Amy

Production Designer:

Anton Grot

Production Company:

Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Full page view
HISTORY

Although Warner Bros. made a 1924 film entitled The Sea Hawk based on the Rafael Sabatini novel of the same name, that picture was directed by Frank Lloyd, starring Milton Sills and Enid Bennett (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30 ; F2.4862). The 1940 production was based entirely on materials by screenwriters Howard Kock and Seton I. Miller. Sabatini's name is not included in the onscreen credits, though many modern sources indicate that the film was based on his novel. News items in HR note that Warner Bros. considered changing the title of the film to Beggars at Sea because the story differed so greatly from the Sabatini novel The Sea Hawk , which told the story of a Cornish gentleman who becomes a Barbary pirate.
       "Beggars at Sea" was the title of a story originally submitted to Warner Bros. by Miller, which, according to news items and other contemporary information, was considerably revised by Koch. Pre-production news items in HR note that Dennis Morgan was going to take over the male lead from Errol Flynn and Geraldine Fitzgerald was to play the female lead. A later pre-production news item noted that Flynn was to play the male lead and Fitzgerald was replaced by Olivia de Havilland because Warner Bros. wanted to keep the de Havilland-Flynn combo intact after their succss in The Adventures of Robin Hood and Dodge City .
       Other news items in HR state that Warner Bros. spent $1,750,000 in production costs. Due to the lack of a sound stage large enough to accommodate ... More Less

Although Warner Bros. made a 1924 film entitled The Sea Hawk based on the Rafael Sabatini novel of the same name, that picture was directed by Frank Lloyd, starring Milton Sills and Enid Bennett (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30 ; F2.4862). The 1940 production was based entirely on materials by screenwriters Howard Kock and Seton I. Miller. Sabatini's name is not included in the onscreen credits, though many modern sources indicate that the film was based on his novel. News items in HR note that Warner Bros. considered changing the title of the film to Beggars at Sea because the story differed so greatly from the Sabatini novel The Sea Hawk , which told the story of a Cornish gentleman who becomes a Barbary pirate.
       "Beggars at Sea" was the title of a story originally submitted to Warner Bros. by Miller, which, according to news items and other contemporary information, was considerably revised by Koch. Pre-production news items in HR note that Dennis Morgan was going to take over the male lead from Errol Flynn and Geraldine Fitzgerald was to play the female lead. A later pre-production news item noted that Flynn was to play the male lead and Fitzgerald was replaced by Olivia de Havilland because Warner Bros. wanted to keep the de Havilland-Flynn combo intact after their succss in The Adventures of Robin Hood and Dodge City .
       Other news items in HR state that Warner Bros. spent $1,750,000 in production costs. Due to the lack of a sound stage large enough to accommodate the full scale ships used in the production, the studio built a new sound stage that covered a specially constructed artificial lake-water tank. Modern sources add that the ships were 165' and 135' and surrounded by water twelve-feet deep. To economize, the studio used many of the sets and costumes from their 1939 film The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex . Other items in HR add that some backgroud shots were filmed at Point Magu, CA.
       The picture received Academy Award nominations in the following categories: Art Direction (Black-and-White); Music (Scoring); Sound Recording; and Special Effects (Photographic Effects, Byron Haskins, Sound Effects (Nathan Levinson). Flora Robson also played Queen Elizabeth in the 1937 film Fire Over England . In selected first-release prints, the Panamanian sequences were tinted sepia. For many years thereafter, the sequence only appeared in black-and-white, but the sepia was restored to those scenes when the picture was released on DVD in 2005. Modern sources also note that this was Erich Wolfgang Korngold's last score for the swashbuckler genre. They also add the following names to the cast: Frank Wilcox ( Martin Barrett ); Herbert Anderson ( Eph Winters ); Charles Irwin ( Arnold Cross ); Edgar Buchanan ( Ben Rollins ); and Frank Lackteen ( Captain Oritz ). More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
18 Jul 40
p. 3.
Film Daily
23 Jul 40
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Jan 40
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Jan 40
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Apr 40
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Apr 40
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Jul 40
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Aug 40
p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
12 Feb 40
p. 11.
Motion Picture Daily
22 Jul 40
p. 6.
Motion Picture Herald
27 Jul 40
p. 34.
New York Times
4 Aug 40
p. 4.
New York Times
10 Aug 40
p. 16.
Variety
24 Jul 40
p. 14.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Warner Bros.--First National Picture; Jack L. Warner in charge of production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dial dir
Dial dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Assoc prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
COSTUMES
Cost
SOUND
Sd dir and eff
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech adv
Tech adv
Tech adv
Unit mgr
DETAILS
Release Date:
31 August 1940
Premiere Information:
New York opening: week of 10 August 1940
Production Date:
began 31 January 1940
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
3 September 1940
Copyright Number:
LP9873
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Victor System
Black and White
with sepia seq
Duration(in mins):
127
Length(in reels):
13
Country:
United States
PCA No:
6090
SYNOPSIS

In sixteenth century Spain, King Philip II, desirious of conquering the world, dispatches his ambassador, Don Jose Alvarez de Cordoba, to England, the rocky island that stands in the way of his grand scheme. Accompanied by his beautiful niece Doña Maria, Don Alvarez sets sail for England, but as his galley approaches the coast, the boat is attacked and plundered by Captain Geoffrey Thorpe, the privateering leader of a band of intrepid British sea fighters who steal to replenish their country's depleted coffers. Meanwhile, in England, Queen Elizabeth listens to the debate between Sir John Burleson, who urges her majesty to build a fleet in order to defend England against the imperialistic Philip, and Lord Wolfingham, who reassures the queen that Spain represents no threat to England. When the queen protests that she has no money with which to build a fleet, Geoffrey, who is in agreement with Sir John, confides in her his plan to rob the Spanish treasure hunters in Panama. After the queen grants Geoffrey her implicit consent, he readies for his voyage to Panama, but before leaving, meets Doña Maria in the garden and the two fall in love. Meanwhile, Don Alvarez and Wolfingham learn of Geoffrey's plan and dispatch Captain Lopez to stop him, and upon arriving in Panama, Geoffrey and his men are captured and condemned to be galley slaves. Just as Don Alvarez announces Geoffrey's demise and presents Elizabeth with an ultimatum of disbanding her fleet or facing war with Spain, Geoffrey learns that the Spanish Armada is poised to attack England. At Cadiz, he leads a mutiny of the slaves, commandeers a Spanish ship and ... +


In sixteenth century Spain, King Philip II, desirious of conquering the world, dispatches his ambassador, Don Jose Alvarez de Cordoba, to England, the rocky island that stands in the way of his grand scheme. Accompanied by his beautiful niece Doña Maria, Don Alvarez sets sail for England, but as his galley approaches the coast, the boat is attacked and plundered by Captain Geoffrey Thorpe, the privateering leader of a band of intrepid British sea fighters who steal to replenish their country's depleted coffers. Meanwhile, in England, Queen Elizabeth listens to the debate between Sir John Burleson, who urges her majesty to build a fleet in order to defend England against the imperialistic Philip, and Lord Wolfingham, who reassures the queen that Spain represents no threat to England. When the queen protests that she has no money with which to build a fleet, Geoffrey, who is in agreement with Sir John, confides in her his plan to rob the Spanish treasure hunters in Panama. After the queen grants Geoffrey her implicit consent, he readies for his voyage to Panama, but before leaving, meets Doña Maria in the garden and the two fall in love. Meanwhile, Don Alvarez and Wolfingham learn of Geoffrey's plan and dispatch Captain Lopez to stop him, and upon arriving in Panama, Geoffrey and his men are captured and condemned to be galley slaves. Just as Don Alvarez announces Geoffrey's demise and presents Elizabeth with an ultimatum of disbanding her fleet or facing war with Spain, Geoffrey learns that the Spanish Armada is poised to attack England. At Cadiz, he leads a mutiny of the slaves, commandeers a Spanish ship and arrives in England with proof of Spain's treachery. Geoffrey's warning saves England, and after his joyous reunion with Doña Maria, his queen knights him for his valor. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.