[[quoteright:338:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/The_Sea_Hawk.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:338: By now you know the purpose of the Sea Hawks... in our own way, to serve England and the Queen.]]

''The Sea Hawk'' is a 1940 Creator/WarnerBros {{Swashbuckler}} of [[{{Pirate}} piracy]] in the age of [[TheVirginQueen Elizabeth I]], directed by Michael Curtiz, and starring ErrolFlynn, Brenda Marshall, and Flora Robson; notable minor roles were sustained by Donald Crisp, Alan Hale, Sr., Henry Daniell, and Creator/ClaudeRains. Though the film took its name from [[Literature/TheSeaHawk the 1915 novel]] by Creator/RafaelSabatini, it featured an almost entirely original screenplay by Howard Koch and Seton I. Miller, based loosely on the life of Sir Francis Drake and the [[TheHouseOfTudor story of the Spanish Armada]]. (It shows some influence from the 1937 Armada film ''FireOverEngland'', which also starred Flora Robson, as well as a young Creator/LaurenceOlivier and Vivien Leigh.)

Sabatini's picaresque novel had already been filmed as a silent in 1924, a version that hewed much more closely to the book. The 1940 film was deliberately designed not only as an adventure film, but also as a call to rally to the defense of Britain, then threatened by the [[WorldWarII Nazi juggernaut]]. The film was originally intended to end with a shot of England's modern-day battle-fleet; as it is, it ends with a speech by Robson denouncing "ambition of one man" who threatens peace for all -- the parallel between Philip of Spain and [[AdolfHitler Adolf of Germany]] being [[{{Anvilicious}} all too obvious]]. It was, indeed, this [[SomeAnvilsNeedToBeDropped timely message]], delivered before America had entered the war, that caused this film to be ranked, along with ''Lady Hamilton'', as one of WinstonChurchill's favorite films.

ErrolFlynn plays a much more controlled, subdued character as [[TheCaptain Captain Geoffrey Thorpe]] than in his previous swashbucklers; Thorpe is a man driven solely by his patriotic duty. Creator/OliviaDeHavilland having rejected the part of Doņa Maria for fear of type-casting (she was, moreover, at odds with the Warners' management over her insistence on playing the part of Melanie in ''Film/GoneWithTheWind''), was replaced by Brenda Marshall, who made a lusciously raven-haired, sloe-eyed, aristocratic Spanish lady. Similarly fearing to play to type, Basil Rathbone rejected the part of the scheming [[TheDragon Lord Wolfingham]], and was replaced by the icily evil-sounding Henry Daniell. Montague Love took the part of [[TheBigBad King Philip II]], and Creator/ClaudeRains played Maria's Satanic-appearing but ultimately rather sympathetic uncle.

The eminent Austrian composer, ErichWolfgangKorngold, who had been driven from his home by the Nazi ''Anschluss'', having already produced outstanding scores for two previous Flynn swashbucklers, ''Film/CaptainBlood'' and ''Film/TheAdventuresOfRobinHood'', undertook to score ''The Sea Hawk'' as well. The resulting score was a lush Late Nineteenth Century evocation of the spirit of the sea, of adventure, and of romance, characterized by [[Creator/RichardWagner Wagnerian]] themes and [[{{Leitmotif}} Leitmotifs]], and seasoned with hints of Spanish rhythms and Elizabethan lute-songs (Maria sings the original song, "Stood a Maiden at Her Window," accompanying herself on a lute). The music garnered Korngold an AcademyAward nomination for Best Music Score (losing to AlfredNewman's ''Tin Pan Alley'') and has been considered a classic of film music ever since.

Other notable talents engaged for the film included fencing master Fred Cavens to [[{{Flynning}} choreograph]] the [[SwordFight duels]]. Unfortunately, Henry Daniell, though an outstanding actor, was absolutely hopeless as a fencer -- so, for the climactic DuelToTheDeath between Thorpe and Wolfingham, Cavens had Errol Flynn progressively snuff out with his rapier the candles lighting the scene, conveniently hiding the fact that Cavens himself was standing in for Daniel except in close up shots.

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'''This film provides examples of:'''
* BladeLock: Happens during the duel with Thorpe and Wolfingham; unusually, they do not exchange taunts, perhaps because Wolfingham is conceived of as a much colder villain than most swashbuckling villains are.
* DefrostingIceQueen: The perfect description of Geoffrey and Maria's relationship.
* DuelToTheDeath: Between Thorpe and Wolfingham.
* EverythingsBetterWithMonkeys: Thorpe gives one, first seen aboard the ''Albatross'' (and later running around the court), to the Queen -- who compares it to Wolfingham!
* EvilChancellor: Privy Councillor Wolfingham's interest in aiding Philip is to see "a ruler friendly to Spain on the throne of England" -- himself, for instance.
* {{Expy}}: Miss Latham, Maria's lady-in-waiting (Una O'Connor), is somewhat similar to Bess, Marian's lady-in-waiting (also Una O'Connor), in ''Film/TheAdventuresOfRobinHood'', and likewise carries on an amour with one of ErrolFlynn's character's men.
* {{Fanfare}}: Notably, Korngold uses a repeated [[{{Leitmotif}} horncall]] to symbolize the ''Albatross'', at least once explicitly performed as [[SorryILeftTheBGMOn source-music]] by a bugler in the crew.
* {{Flynning}}: The philosophy of Fred Cavens, who choreographed the duels, was to take the basic fencing moves and to exaggerate them, to make them more spectacular for film audiences.
* GalleySlave: Thorpe and the other surviving crew of the ''Albatross'' are sentenced to this by the [[UsefulNotes/TheSpanishInquisition Inquisition]]. [[WhyDontYouJustShootHim Why didn't they just hang him?]]
* HangingJudge: Fritz Leiber (the father of [[Creator/FritzLeiber the science fiction writer]]) appears as a merciless judge from UsefulNotes/TheSpanishInquisition.
* HistoricalDomainCharacter: [[TheVirginQueen Queen Elizabeth I]]; King Philip II; Captain Hawkins and Captain Frobisher.
* HistoricalVillainUpgrade: Philip II is generally considered now not to have been so much a cruel tyrant, as a rigidly conscientious man who felt he had a duty in maintaining his Habsburg patrimony and re-establishing the Roman Catholic faith in Europe.
* HollywoodCostuming: It would take a small book to analyse, but among the common Hollywood variations from Elizabethan design seen in this film are [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pannier_(clothing) panniers]] in place of the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farthingale farthingale]], either English or Spanish; an avoidance of the ubiquitous Elizabethan [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruff_(clothing) ruff]]; the substitution of patterned fabrics for embroidery, and a tendency to replace stockings with a sort of modified trousers, at least for heroic characters. Compare and contrast [[http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v518/Tannhaeuser/ClaraEugenia-FrancisDrake-Elizabeth.png these costumes from the 1580's]] (Spanish Princess Clara Eugenia, Sir Francis Drake, Queen Elizabeth) and [[http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v518/Tannhaeuser/TheSeaHawk-Finale.jpg this still from the film]].
* InsultBackfire: When tried by the [[UsefulNotes/TheSpanishInquisition Inquisition]], Thorpe is accused of plundering seven cities and forty-three ships. He corrects this, by saying he has plundered nine cities and fifty-four ships.
* {{Knighting}}: In the finale of the film, Geoffrey Thorpe is knighted by the Queen aboard the ''Albatross''.
* {{Leitmotif}}: Korngold employs several in the score, including the {{Fanfare}} mentioned above, a sweeping love theme for Geoffrey and Maria, and a jaunty march to represent the Spanish treasure caravan in Panama.
* MadeASlave: Thorpe and his men are sentenced to serve as galley slaves by the [[UsefulNotes/TheSpanishInquisition Inquisitorial]] court.
* TheMole: Wolfingham is a spy for the Spanish.
* NoCelebritiesWereHarmed: The character of Captain Geoffrey Thorpe is almost certainly based on Sir Francis Drake, the English privateer who successfully robbed the Spanish Silver Train, as Thorpe fails to do in this film.
* NotableOriginalMusic: Korngold's first original Hollywood score is a beautiful evocation of the sea, and helped solidify his career as one of the dominant figures of film music.
* NotEvenBotheringWithTheAccent: About half of the Spaniards are Mexican actors; the other half speak as if they were elocution coaches from Eton and Oxford.
* PeopleOfHairColor: Nearly all the Spaniards in the film are raven-haired -- the greatest exception is King Philip, who is grey-bearded.
* PimpedOutDress: Elizabeth and the ladies of the court of course wear them.
* {{Pirate}}: Strictly speaking, Thorpe is a privateer sharing his plunder with the English government, but the Spanish make no distinction.
* {{Privateer}}
* TheRenaissance: To be specific, the latter half of the 1580's.
* ShoutOut: The [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2hg9qPei7W0 title theme-music]] to the 1990 Fox cartoon ''PeterPanAndThePirates'' deliberately echoes the [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-RPzAbW7No Main Title music]] of this film.
* SinisterMinister: The sinister [[UsefulNotes/TheSpanishInquisition Inquisitor]] who tries Thorpe and his men.
* StockFootage: Portions of the battle scenes are lifted from earlier Warners' silents; the attentive viewer can catch glimpses of Napoleonic ship design and costumes among the 16th century piracy.
* SwordFight: Notably, Geoffrey's duel with Captain Lopez (Gilbert Roland) at the beginning of the film, and especially his final climactic duel with Lord Wolfingham, one of the finest cinematic duels ever filmed.
* ATasteOfTheLash: How the Spanish motivate their galley slaves.
* TitleDrop: The Elizabethan privateers were actually known as "Sea ''Dogs''"; Koch and Miller deliberately changed the term to cash in on the Creator/RafaelSabatini title.
* WhyWontYouDie?: Lord Wolfingham greets Geoffrey Thorpe, who has escaped from numerous perils, with the words, "Have you nine lives, Captain Thorpe? Surely most of them must be used up by now." Cue {{Flynning}}.
* WoodenShipsAndIronMen:
* YouFightLikeACow: Thorpe and Lopez exchange pleasantries as they duel aboard the ''Santa Eulalia''.

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