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Swashbuckling Triumph for Errol Flynn!
cariart15 August 2003
CAPTAIN BLOOD, Warners' 1935 remake of a popular 1924 silent film, is best remembered today as Errol Flynn's springboard to stardom, and the first of a series of classic swashbucklers from the studio. Yet the film was nearly shelved, and it's story is as entertaining as the film.

Intended to attract the same audience that had made MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY and TREASURE ISLAND box office hits, the film boasted great production values, a talented director (Michael Curtiz), a musical score from Hollywood's greatest composer (Erich Wolfgang Korngold, although time limitations forced him to borrow heavily from Franz Liszt), the captivating beauty of young Olivia de Havilland (in only her fourth film), and, originally, the respected British actor (and future Oscar winner) Robert Donat as physician-turned-pirate Peter Blood. Donat, however, had chronic health problems (which would, sadly, eventually curtail his film career), and Warners faced a major production starting date with no leading man.

Legend has it that Jack Warner's wife recommended young Errol Flynn (just 26 at the time) for the role; she had described him as the most "gorgeous" man she'd ever seen, and helped convince the studio to bring him from England, where he was doing repertory theater, after several years of hell-raising around the world. His largest American role, to date, had been as a corpse in a Perry Mason B-movie, but his sexual conquests and social life were already becoming legendary, and he and new wife, actress Lili Damita, were constantly promoting the young actor around town. The studio finally decided to take a chance on the untested actor in the lead (budget-wise, picking a low-paid contract player was a smart financial move)...but it initially appeared to be a MAJOR blunder, as Flynn looked tense and amateurish in the dailies. Director Curtiz was unfazed, however, and worked with him, and gradually the actor developed confidence. Word spread around the studio that a charismatic new star was emerging, and the first few days' scenes were scrapped and re-shot. By the end of the hugely favorable test screenings, Warners knew it had finally had a bona-fide sex symbol of their own, who could compete for female audiences against Gable, Cooper, and Cary Grant. Errol Flynn had inherited Douglas Fairbanks' title of premier swashbuckler, and had done it with only one film!

CAPTAIN BLOOD may lack the opulence of THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD and THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE, and the pure adventure value of THE SEA HAWK, but without this pirate saga, and the dynamic star it introduced, the 'Golden Age' of Hollywood may never have seen these subsequent classics reach the screen. CAPTAIN BLOOD has earned a place in film history that cannot be underrated.
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England and the Caribbean, 1685 - 1688
theowinthrop12 September 2005
This is remembered as Errol Flynn's great opening movie role - which is partly true. He had a nice career in Australian movies (one a film about Fletcher Christian and the Bounty), but CAPTAIN BLOOD was his first Hollywood film as a star, and it was a brilliantly colorful opening role.

Flynn plays Dr. Peter Blood, a physician who is the 1685 version of Dr. Samuel Mudd in the Assassination of Lincoln. Mudd, if you recall, treated John Wilkes Booth's broken leg, and was sentenced to life imprisonment as a result. Flynn treats some injured men not realizing they are soldiers in a revolt. When they are arrested so is he, and he ends up being transported as an indentured servant (little better than a slave) to Jamaica in the West Indies.

The revolt, by the way, is that of James, Duke of Monmouth. The son of one Lucy Walters, his father was supposed to be King Charles II, one of several lovers Walters had when James was born. King Charles had ennobled Monmouth, and treated him well at court, but refused to legitimize him as the Whigs hoped (they wanted the Protestant Monmouth on the throne, rather than the Catholic brother of Charles, James, Duke of York. In the end Monmouth led this ill-fated revolt, which was defeated at the battle of Sedgewick Moor. Monmouth was beheaded at the Tower of London. King James II (the former Duke of York) sent his most belligerent jurist, Judge George Jeffreys to the west country where hundreds were hanged at fast trials (known forever after as "The Bloody Assizes". Jeffreys appears in the film as the judge that orders Blood's transporting to the New World. However in the film Blood (desperate to prove he is just a doctor) says the judge is suffering from tuberculosis. Jeffeys actually suffered from kidney stones, and was a heavy drinker and curser as a result. King James II made him Lord Chancellor for his work.

Flynn's real adventures begin in Jamaica, where he is working at the estate of Colonel Bishop (Lionel Atwill) and his niece Arabella (Olivia De Haviland). It was the first film Flynn and De Haviland co-starred in. Atwill is a bully to these traitorous indentured servants, but Flynn's medical abilities raises him above the others. With the aid of two local doctors he plans an escape, and he and the other indentured servants (Guy Kibbee, Ross Alexander, etc.) escape after defeating a pirate attack on the island. They also have the pleasure of plundering and discomforting Atwill, who vows to hunt them down and destroy them. The only regret Flynn has in leaving is he and Arabella have fallen in love.

We watch the rise of Peter Blood as a leading pirate, his temporary partnership with the French pirate Captain Lavasseur (Basil Rathbone) - which ends in a duel over De Haviland (and the first time Rathbone had to die at Flynn's hand in a duel in their films), and his gradual emergence as a friend of a reformed England represented by Lord Willoughby (Henry Stephenson) after the "Glorious Revolution" of 1688 overthrows James II. Although not exactly the same, Blood's rise from Pirate king to Governor of Jamaica (as the film ends) is a mirror of the story (a decade earlier) of the rise of Pirate, Henry Morgan, to being Sir Henry Morgan, Lt. Governor/Governor of Jamaica. A closer acting job regarding Morgan was done by Laird Cregar in THE BLACK SWAN, where he played that Governor - and with a welsh accent. But Flynn does very nicely, with his charm, humor, good looks, and athletic grace. It was a good introduction to a Hollywood legend.
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Delightful Classic Adventure
claudio_carvalho7 August 2005
In 1685, in England, the Irish Dr. Peter Blood (Errol Flynn) is unfairly accused of treachery of King James just because he treated a wounded rebel. He is sent to prison and six months later sentenced to hanging. In the very last moment, he is sent to Port Royal, a British colony in Jamaica, to work as a slave. Arabella Bishop (Olivia de Havilland), the niece of the powerful landlord Col. Bishop (Lionel Atwill), saves him from dying in the labor work in the mines, and when he heels the foot of the governor of Port Royal, he achieves a partial freedom in the island. With his intelligence and leadership, he escapes with his British slave comrades and becomes Captain Blood, a famous pirate in the Caribbean Seas.

"Captain Blood" is a delightful adventure, certainly one of the best pirate movies I have ever seen. The direction of Michael Curtiz is perfect as usual. The screenplay has excellent lines, many plot points, and action, funny scenes and romance in right doses. The elegant Errol Flynn with the gorgeous Olivia de Havilland have a great chemistry in their charismatic roles. "Captain Blood" is a highly recommended movie for fans of adventure films. My vote is ten.

Title (Brazil): "Capitão Blood" ("Captain Blood")
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The Greatest Pirate Film to Date
kevintuma27 February 2005
'Captain Blood' is not easily understood by a lot of viewers. Although far from a "love or hate" film, it is frequently characterized as "boring" and "unconvincing" by people who do not understand its subject matter---buccaneers of the Caribbean.

For a lot of people,"pirate" translates as "gruff bearded man with a wooden leg, a parrot on his shoulder, and a vocabulary consisting mostly of four words--"shiver me timbers" and "Aaaarrrrrrrgh!"

In other words their definition of pirate derives from fictional pirate Long John Silver. Captain Blood is a more romanticized figure, and tends to leave fans of buffoonish pirates flat. Peter Blood, the protagonist, is much more influenced by the dashing exploits of Captain Henry Morgan---with a physician's mantle thrown in, formulaically speaking, to give him added genteel qualities.

'Blood' is, for the most part, however, the most realistic of pirate films made to date. Substantially more so than, say, 'Pirates of the Caribbean'--which dazzles with special effects, but displays little understanding of the historical period.

The Jerry Bruckheimer film appears visually influenced by Barbara Cartland novels, and, like most pirate films, depicts Port Royal unrealistically. I cannot vouch for exactly what Port Royal looked like a few centuries ago--considering that it was destroyed once by an earthquake in 1692, and burned a decade later---but it's doubtful that it resembled a quaint cliff side tourist retreat in the Grenadines. In Captain Blood, Port Royal is seen as flat and sandy, with colonial Spanish buildings. This is more authentic; the real-life city was a captured Spanish colony built on a sandpit.

Similarly, in most respects Captain Blood is carefully constructed, and does not resort to the hackneyed and often silly stunts seen in most pirate films.....such as exploding buildings with gunpowder (for no particular reason), searching for buried treasure, Twentieth Century-style fistfights (and karate-kicks), female pirates in every ship's crew, anorexic women in ruffled skirts who kick ass, etc.

In terms of characterization, Captain Blood is a tour-de-force, depicting the practice of white slavery (quite common in the colonial era) and the escape of Blood's slave band to become a crew of buccaneers. He is pursued by his former slave owner, an insolent, hateful man named Bishop, as a matter of personal grudge. As opposed to the usual cops-and-robbers chase scenes with British soldiers we see in most pirate shows. (In real-life Caribbean colonies, privateers and pirates were often ignored by the authorities..if not,in fact,quietly encouraged behind the scenes.)

The ships in Captain Blood also move like real ships (slowly, and by wind power only), and the final battle sequence between Blood's galleon and a French Frigate is extraordinarily vivid, especially considering the special effects used when the original film was made (1935).

As with many pictures from the 1930s, the film is chock-filled with corny characters who provide "color", but in so doing, still leave a more lasting impression than modern-day characters who do nothing but grunt, sweat, and bleed.

This is a stunning and very likable action film--and head and shoulders above all other Hollywood pirate movies.

Perhaps the next Johnny Depp film will get it right, and surpass Captain Blood..but I won't hold my breath waiting for that to happen.
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Heroic swashbucklers and ferocious cannonade!
Coventry1 May 2004
Nearly 80 years old and `Captain Blood' still is one of the greatest sea-adventures ever made. It initially served as an appropriate answer to `Mutiny on the Bounty', also released in 1935 and starring Clark Gable. This film launched the terrific career of Errol Flynn, who only appeared uncredited in other film until then. Captain Blood is a compelling and versatile story about a young Irish doctor, named Peter Blood. After giving medical attention to rebellions, he's sold as a slave to the wondrously beautiful Arabella Bishop (Olivia de Havilland)…niece of the rancorous Colonel Bishop (Lionel Atwill). Blood escapes slavery and, together with his faithful crew, he starts a successful and diverse career as a pirate in the Caribbean sea. Yet, the unanswered love he feels for Arabella never really allows him to be fully free. Naturally, this film doesn't feature as many outrageous swordfights as in later pirate movies, but the decors and scenery are breath-taking and very inspired. Some neutral sequences (mainly in the beginning of the film) can be considered tedious, but long and delightful patriot speeches and exiting battles make up for those. Errol Flynn does a great job as the rebellious captain, even though his handsome looks don't really match the image of a feared pirate. Special mention goes out to Basil Rathbone, flawlessly cast as a French corsair. Highly recommended if you're a fan of classic and nostalgic cinema.
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Flynn and De Havilland in one of the best pirate movies of all time...
Doylenf4 July 2001
'Captain Blood' made stars of Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland when it was released, both winning their roles by default when other casting attempts failed. It's a rousing pirate adventure tale, told as only Rafael Sabatini in his novel could do. Aside from a splendid script, it has Michael Curtiz at the directorial helm and Erich Wolfgang Korngold supplying the stirring background music. The Flynn-de Havilland-Korngold-Curtiz package would be repeated many times by Warner Bros. since the ingredients proved a smash hit, most notably in 'The Adventures of Robin Hood'.

Peter Blood (Errol Flynn) is a physician wrongly accused of being a traitor and sent to the West Indies into a life of slavery. He is purchased at the auction block by a spirited beauty (Olivia de Havilland) whose father happens to be the Governor (Lionel Atwil). When he leads other prisoners in an escape plan and succeeds, he becomes a pirate on the high seas. Eventually he is involved in a fight, a duel to the death with another pirate (Basil Rathbone) in order to win the fair heroine. The climactic duel between Flynn and Rathbone is on par with their other famous duel in 'Robin Hood'.

Fans of either Errol Flynn or Olivia de Havilland cannot fail to enjoy this romantic adventure done in the grand style by a studio that knew it had two future stars in the making.
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"You've Saved My Money"--- "Can you swim Colonel Darlin'"
bkoganbing15 February 2006
Talk about taking one long chance. The original star of Captain Blood was to be Robert Donat. But health reasons as they did often in Donat's career prevented him from doing this film. So Jack Warner gave the lead in this film to a contract player who had done a couple of bit parts in some B films and had done a lead in an Australian production of the Mutiny on the Bounty story.

Jack Warner not only created a star in Errol Flynn, but also created a new screen team in co-starring him with Olivia DeHavilland who hadn't done that much herself at Warner Brothers up to that time. Individually and together they were a vibrant and charismatic screen team and did eight films for the Brothers Warner.

They were so successful that they resented the typecasting. DeHavilland fought against it far more successfully than Flynn did. As legend has come down to us, Errol Flynn had other pursuits.

The story is that Doctor Peter Blood made a house call on a wounded rebel during the Monmouth rebellion in 1685 against James II. That house call got him a one way ticket to slavery on the island of Jamaica along with many other of the rebels. Olivia DeHavilland the niece of Lionel Atwill, the wealthiest man on Jamaica buys Flynn on a whim. An attack by Spanish pirates offers an opportunity for escape and Flynn and the rest of the rebels become pirates themselves.

Jack Warner provided his two unknowns with a good cast of supporting players. Basil Rathbone as Levasseur, Flynn's pirate rival, crew members Ross Alexander, Guy Kibbee, and Frank McGlyn, Sr., Henry Stephenson as the sympathetic Lord Willoughby, but most of all Lionel Atwill.

Atwill played many a screen villain, but I'm not sure he was ever better as the pompous blundering oaf Colonel Bishop. My favorite scene in Captain Blood has always been when after Flynn routs the Spanish pirate attack on Port Royal by seizing the pirate ship. When Atwill comes on board to thank those who turned the tables on the pirates he gets quite a reception. The dialog in this scene and the final result of this oaf being tossed into the harbor is priceless.

Love and romance, pirate battles, and a dueling scene between Flynn and Rathbone that was only topped by Rathbone and Flynn again in Robin Hood. It's all here and all for your entertainment for generations to come.
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Full-blooded pirate adventure!
Effie5 December 1998
Flynn's first starring role in Hollywood! This is a lavish, knock-you-silly gorgeous production with a solid, book-based plot, packed with action, salt water, swordplay AND hordes of pirates "celebrating in pirate fashion" (!). Flynn and de Havilland spark as they spar in the best love-hate mode, and this time, when she inadvisedly condescends to him in his slavery, his pride is as involved as hers. Suave, deadly French pirate captain Rathbone's betrayal of Flynn makes their thrilling, fated-from-the-start duel very satisfying indeed. The icing on the cake -- Flynn at his slim, youthful, sexy freshest, so beautiful he breaks your heart!
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The greatest pirate film ever made...
I have always wanted to see this film and so I recently purchased the Errol Flynn Signature Collection from Warner Bros. and promptly watched this title. This could easily be considered the greatest pirate movie ever made and by far the most realistic. Being a film student I watched it with a critical eye but at the same time found myself engaged in the excitement and all of the swashbuckling spectacle that WAS the film. Errol Flynn's breakout performance could easily rival his appearance as Robin Hood 3 years later, and Basil Rathbone is his typically evil self. The swordplay is spectacular, the Korngold's score is breathtaking, and the film is not only well made but (after 70 years) easily as entertaining (if not more) as the recent Pirates of the Caribbean. Highly recommended viewing for viewers of all ages.
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Up into the shrouds, Lads!
rmax3048236 April 2005
It's Flynn's first big picture and it brings him together with Olivia DeHavilland, Michael Curtiz, and Erich Wolfgang Korngold. It's not their best movie together but it's a terrific introduction to the parts these personalities were to play in swashbucklers.

Flynn is brash and cocky. (He didn't change much until he began to physically deteriorate later in life.) He projects his emotions the way a traffic light projects directions, with utter simplicity. There's never a moment when we doubt we know what he's thinking. He looks extremely handsome too (he was 26) without being in the least effete.

Olivia De Havilland is his perfect counterpart. She was never a raving beauty, but she's extremely feminine. She has a wide face with huge eyes, a dazzling smile, and a tinkling laugh. Where Flynn is adventurous she is cautious, thoughtful, often puzzled about her loyalties, and she holds things back, while Flynn shouts things out.

The rest of the cast is filled with familiar faces from the 30s -- J. Carol Naish, Guy Kibbee, Lionel Atwill -- and they do their jobs well.

It's a sound-stage bound movie with a lot of model work, some of it clumsy but still effective. A neatly done set is a tribute to the production designer. The banana plants grow neatly in picturesque places and the papier-mache palms beat the real thing. Natural locations are often cluttered with vegetation, but these jungles and beaches are flawless. They don't look like real locations. They look like what you wish real locations looked like.

This is Erich Wolfgang Korngold's first score for a movie. (He'd previously adapted Mendelsohn for an earlier one.) It's often claimed that Hollywood composers were child prodigies but in Korngold's case it's not an exaggeration. He was studying piano and music theory at five, conducted his own cantata (for Gustav Mahler) at nine, and had his first work published at thirteen. He was a prolific composer too -- violin concertos, two operas -- by the time he was in his mid-thirties. Max Reinhardt sent him to Hollywood to write a few scores, of which this was one. It was thrown into his lap and he had to write it almost overnight. There was simply not enough time to do it all, so he stole a little from Liszt, the scene in which the Spanish pirates are looting the town. He returned to Europe to continue his career but, well, the continent by that time was no place for a guy named Korngold, genius or not. So he returned to Hollywood until after the war when he was able to go back to Europe and renew his composing.

I don't mean to take up too much space dealing with Korngold, but the fact is that Flynn's early movies would just not be the same with anyone else. Korngold wrote music the way Flynn acted -- full of dash and bombast -- and some of it was stunningly lyrical. (The simple love song in "The Sea Hawk" has a melodic progression that defies prediction.) It's hardly worth noting that the name of this talented musician has been parodied elsewhere as "Wolfgang von Korngold" by another reviewer, Howydymax, whose penetrating insights into film fare I have usually admired and sometimes stolen from. Curtiz's direction had the same slam-bang quality as the composer's. Absolutely nothing artsy about it, a straightforward story.

There are some weaknesses in the script. When I first saw it, finally, on TV, I'd been waiting for a chance for years and was frustrated because there didn't seem to be enough action. One longish scene of sailing ships pounding each other to pieces, and one fencing match between Basil Rathbone and Flynn -- too brief for my taste. Actually, at the time Flynn wasn't comfortable with swordplay and it shows. Rathbone, on the other hand, took up the sport seriously and was evidently a pretty accomplished fencer. I've seen it again recently and enjoyed it much more, a cartoon of a movie, full of intrigue, romance, and action.

Well worth watching.
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As Good As Advertised
ccthemovieman-121 October 2005
I'm not that big on pirate movies and I thought this might be overrated.....but I was wrong. This is good stuff and I wonder if a more realistic pirate movie has ever been made.

This was Errol Flynn's first starring role and it sure got him off to a flying start. Few actors have ever played the "dashing hero" as well as Flynn. Despite being almost "worship idol" status by women, he is still comes across as a "man's man," and that all started with this film.

What I liked best about this was that the story stood out more than the action or the romance. Many times classic films overdid the latter, producing lulls in what was considered an adventure story. That's not the case here. It also isn't the typical clichéd pirate film in which the captain is seen with an eye patch and a parrot on his shoulder.

This is nothing fancy, just a just solid story.....period, which is probably why it holds up so well over 70 years later!
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Why this film is a great movie
rabbe20 November 2005
In his first starring role, Errol Flynn is what we now would call, a "natural". He is backed up by a great cast, a great score and wonderful direction. And the film works because the role Errol Flynn plays is in a way a mirror of himself (please read his autobiography). He portrays only the best sides of the male character: a sense of justice, humour, and treating the ladies with the respect they deserve. Nobody could do it better. And Errol Flynn did it for many years after this film. Often people think of mr Flynn as only a swashbuckler. I think his greatest moments are the electric scenes with the villains, were he in a very understated and believable manner, takes a stand for justice and equality. Go watch all his movies. Go buy them. They are truly timeless classics of our movie heritage.
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Flynn and Curtiz at their best
Oblomov_815 February 2003
"Captain Blood" represents the best qualities of Hollywood's 1930's swashbucklers. It was the first of twelve films that Errol Flynn made with Michael Curtiz and Warner Brothers, and maximized many of the now familiar staples of the genre: a totally likeable hero, beautiful locales, rousing fights, remarkably detailed sets, and lighthearted romance. But it also outdoes most of today's action flicks with its sharp, witty dialogue, and use of intrigue in the story that keeps the viewer interested in more than just the action.

The script by Casey Robinson (who did uncredited rewriting on Curtiz's "Casablanca") gives Flynn's character a sympathetic edge; he is not simply a muscular hero battling the bad guys, but also an intelligent and caring man who uses his wits to assist the less fortunate. Flynn is remembered today almost exclusively as an action star, but many of the scenes in "Captain Blood," particularly the ones developing his relationship with Olivia de Havilland's character, show that he had much more range. It's even more amazing to note that this was his first lead role, after only a few minor parts in earlier films; he shows remarkable confidence and ease in every scene.

Critics and audiences often overlook Curtiz when composing lists of the all-time great directors, perhaps because he was treated like a hired hand at Warners, basically doing whatever the studio assigned him. But after watching several of his films, it's easy to see that he had a very distinct visual style; he always stayed focused on the characters, even during the action scenes, never letting himself get distracted by the sumptuous settings that frequently appeared in his movies. He also kept his camera up close during the fights so that we see every swish of the sword. `Captain Blood' remains one of the brightest of Hollywood's many spectacles.
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High Seas Adventure
ecteon24 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This movie is not as good as reading Sabatini's book, but suffice it to say that Flynn does a fantastic job as the unluckily lucky Dr. Peter Blood. Olivia DeHavilland does an equally good job, as she should. With this being one of Flynn's action/adventure flicks that goes along with "The Adventures of Robin Hood" and "The Sea Hawk" (another Sabatini novel that one should read the book), he does a great job. The character actors are superb in their support, and any time you get to see Basil Rathbone in a sword fight is pleasant, especially when he plays a bad guy. Did Rathbone ever win a sword fight against Flynn? Seriously, though, very worthwhile movie to watch.
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The start of a beautiful friendship!!!
dougandwin21 April 2005
How thankful we should be that Robert Donat turned this role down, as it allowed the introduction of one of the most romantic screen teams in movie history - Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland. Director Michael Curtiz produced a great pirate film that stands up well some 70 years later, and has become the blue-print for others of this genre to follow. The two stars are great, showing an excellent rapport, and the support cast including those two great villains, Basil Rathbone and Lionel Atwill add so much to the story of piracy on the high seas. While by today's standards one can see the use of models in the sea battles, they were quite remarkable in their time and still provide much excitement and fun. Swashbuckling was Flynn's forte, and Warners did him no favours by casting him in less adventurous roles. Do not miss the opportunity to see this on DVD or Video as it is a couple of hours of great entertainment.
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Looney Toon joe12 November 2003
This is the film that introduced Errol Flynn to the adventure genre.He plays Peter Blood,the most feared pirate of the caribbean,who at one point was a slave after being wrongfully accused of treason while aiding a rebel,enemy to the corrupt King James II. Olivia de Havilland made a startling debut as the young and proper Annabelle who helps Peter Blood escape from the cruelty and opression of her uncle's(Lionel Atwill)plantation in the West Indies.Not only was this the first screen pairing of Flynn and de Havilland(it would not be their last)but also one of the very first of the great films directed by Michael Curtiz. It also was the first film that Erich Wolfgang Korngold wrote the score for. Also starring are Henry Stephenson as Lord Willoughby and the great Basil Rathbone as the french pirate Capt.Levasseaur who teams up with Capt.Blood in an ill fated partnership. A superb pirate film with many action highlights and romance to spare thanks to its makers and especially to ERROL FLYNN!

RATING: A+ 10/10
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Sabatini Would Have Been Proud...
R Becker18 March 2002
Practically the same cast that made magic in the later ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, but magic just the same -- they never made a pirate film that could equal this one, much less surpass it, though Hollywood certainly tried. If you only ever see two Flynn movies, watch this and ROBIN HOOD and you'll be the richer for it.
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Magnificent Rafael Sabatini pirate adventure story about a doctor becomes pirate of the Caribbean
ma-cortes12 January 2016
Thrilling swashbuckling who launched then unknown Errol Flynn to fame at a great role in which he becomes pirate of the Caribbean . This classic story of romantic adventure by Michael Curtiz , filmed in Hollywood , comes to life enriched by brilliant photography and adapted rightly to the screen . It deals with a doctor named Peter Blood (Errol Flynn , as Robert Donat turned down the role , he had been unable to accept the part) who is imprisoned and exiled into slavery in Port Royal , Jamaica ; there he falls in love for a beautiful young (Olivia De Havilland) and is mistreated by a tyrannical governor (Lionel Atwill) . As the enslaved doctor and his colleagues in chains escape but he is detained , though the timely interruption a Spanish ship turned pirate under the protection of the gold and crimson flag of King Philip of Spain . The Port Royal town is taken , then the pirates land , to loot , pillage and celebrate it . Port Royal was a popular homeport in which many of the crews turned pirate and used the city as their main base during the 17th century against the Spanish treasure fleets . Pirates from around the world congregated at Port Royal, coming from waters as far away as Madagascar . Blood and his comrades flee and Peter is forced into piracy . And this Captain Blood began his career of piracy with a ship , a handful of men and a brain ; carving a crimson career , until his name became the terror of the Caribbean , until his name became the pride and toast of every buccaneer of the brotherhood of the coast . As Blood and his crew sailing recklessly through dangerous waters , from the Caribbean islands along Atlantic Ocean today he still lives in hundreds of legends . As he leads his followers against the evil governor but finally earns pardon for his swashbuckling ways .

The picture in which Tasmanian-born Flynn -who took the part Robert Donat declined for health reasons- , following just a couple of small Hollywood characters , burst upon the world as a new star . It launched 26-years-old Errol and 19-year-old Olivia De Havilland in perhaps the best pirate tale ever . Love interest De Havilland would go to appear with Errol in 7 more features , such as : The Charge of the Light Brigade , Robin Hood , The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex , The died with the boots on , Santa Fe trail , among others . This lusty pirate drama has plenty of punch and pace , as well as amusement . The action and fencing scenes are choreographed with an unity and surge of which all the best Hollywood filmmakers would have been proud . Combination of overwhelming battle ships , sword-play and full of villainy , romance , swashbuckler and heroism . Exciting script by Casey Robinson who also penned a sequel : The son of captain Blood with Sean Flynn , Errol's son . The picture is fast-moving , exciting and thrilling right up to the almost balletic climatic confrontation between Errol Flynn and Basil Rathbone .Intelligently budgeted using miniature sets and ship shots from silents when possible . In fact , no full-sized ships were used in the battle scenes . It was created by a combination of process shots, miniatures, and footage from the silent film , Sea Hawk (1924), which was based on another Rafael Sabatini novel . Very good support cast in this historical/pirate/adventure tale of heroism and swordplay , standing out the followers support actors : Lionel Atwill , Henry Stephenson , Donald Meek ,Robert Barrat , Guy Kibbee , J Carrol Naish , Ross Alexander , Vernon Steele as King James II who was overthrown by Guillermo of Orange (1688) and special mention for Basil Rathbone as Levasseur , though he felt miscast as a French pirate.

Evocative cinematography in black and white by Hal Mohr , though also available colorized . First original and impressive musical score by Erich Wolfgang Kongold . He had only three weeks for scoring this picture, he used portions of two tone poems by Franz Liszt for some of the action scenes . Well narrated in pirate fashion , being masterfully directed by Michael Curtiz . Michael worked together Errol a total of 12 times, but Errol Flynn and Michael Curtiz disliked each other intensely . Errol Flynn's son Sean Flynn later played Captain Blood's son Robert Blood in The son of captain Blood (1962) . Rating : 7.5/10 , above average pirate movie , entertaining as well as stirring stuff that provides audience amusement . Enjoyable production packs enough thrills , breathtaking sea battles , tempestuous romance and exciting situations for a good time . It will appeal to Flynn/Havilland fans and pirate movies aficionados .
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An unforgettable classic, Errol Flynn at his best!
vicbrisim223 November 2004
Captain Blood is one of those films that you first saw as a small boy and never forgot. My father was, and still is, a devoted Errol Flynn fan. Whenever one of his films played on the TV we both watched it. I too developed an interest in Errol Flynn and have remained loyal to this day. Captain Blood was Errol's first starring epic. I believe it is his best. This was filmed before the stardom effect ruined his career. He was as he was at the beginning. No drugs or alcohol to spoil the perfect image of the masculine male that he was. And a nice love story to go along with all that bravado. This is one Errol Flynn film that deserves a DVD issue. There are others too, Charge of the Light Brigade, The Sea Hawk and The Dawn Patrol. But this film is special. Watch it with your son or with your father and bring back the true swashbuckler to your memories.
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In Like Flynn
henrijpherbert23 March 2001
Flynn`s big break picture is a masterpiece. It`s fun, its colourful (even though it was filmed in black and white) and is only just inferior to The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938). Flynn in superb in his first stab at a role that would become his trademark; the swashbuckling adventurer. There is excellent support from Basil Rathbone (at his dastardly best) and Flynn`s regular co-star, Olivia DeHavilland. I can not find anything wrong with this movie (except, perhaps, a hilarious use of classic 1930`s back projection a the beginning of the movie, maybe this just adds to the fun). If you`re looking for an exciting, thrill-a-minute adventure movie, then this is definitely one for you. You might also like to check out The Sea Hawk, The Adventures of Don Juan, The Master of Ballantrae and, of course, The Adventures Of Robin Hood. These films all feature Errol at his swashbuckling best. If you`re in the mood for Flynn the actor rather than Flynn the action man, check out The Sun Also Rises and Gentleman Jim.
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about as good an Errol Flynn movie as you can find!
MartinHafer13 June 2005
This film, along with The Adventures of Robinhood, is probably the best Flynn film--and what an auspicious first starring performance! Flynn did star as Fletcher Christian in an Australian film ("In the Wake of the Bounty"), but it was more a documentary and NOT of the quality to allow it to be shown much of anywhere (it's BAD--trust me). It's rather ironic, if you think about it, because the same year Captain Blood debuted, the movie Mutiny on the Bounty (the American version with Clark Gable--not the crappy Australian one) debuted as well. Of the two films from 1935, I think I prefer Captain Blood, though Mutiny was the one that did well at the Oscars.

By the way, try to find an old copy of the Raphael Sabatini novel Captain Blood. The movie was based on it and the general spirit of the two is the same, though of course much was omitted from the movie. There are also two follow-up novels from Sabatini--rare as hen's teeth to find--just like Flynn's Australian debut film.
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A Good Start to a Great Career
gbheron1 September 2000
Errol Flynn's first starring turn as an action hero is set in the golden age of piracy. Flynn's character, Captain Blood, starts out as Dr. Blood; a compassionate physician who makes the mistake of treating English rebels. Royalists take a dim view of this and Dr. Blood is sentenced to slavery in the West Indies. Amazingly all the slaves are white, but nonetheless, he escapes and is transfigured into Captain Blood, pirate extraordinaire. Captain Blood also stars Olivia de Haviland as the love interest, Lionel Atwill as her vengeful father, and Basil Rathbone as Blood's French pirate rival. This is the tops and is highly recommended.
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"It's entirely innocent, I am!"
elvircorhodzic17 April 2016
„CAPTAIN BLOOD" is an ambitious and very expensive project directed by Michael Curtiz. In 1935 year the adventure films are dominant. This genre was not so popular. That year the competition was great. Make a spectacular and expensive movie was "double-edged sword".

Set design is mesmerizing. I think Curtiz targeted wanted to show adventurous beauty. Again, the scene is not supposed to act too exotic. Sound and effects are at a high level. The battles are spectacular. It is impressive to know that in certain sequences involved over 1,000 trainees. Errol and Olivia are practically "born" in this movie.

Errol Flynn (Capt. Blood) very nice, good-looking, charming and dominant actor. Excellent fit in the adventure - action scenes. Former audience it was something new, somewhat exotic and exciting. His acting is not praised. I think, from the current point of view, that Flynn was a very good actor.

Olivia de Havilland as Arabella Bishop was also on the beginning of her career. She picked up sympathy. Olivia is a very good actress and I'm not in any context discuss her beauty. She acts naturally and has a natural beauty.

The chemistry between the two main actors is quite strange, but amazingly real. The duel between the Capt. Blood and Capt. Levasseur (Basil Rathbone) I would call epic. Well, the duel between the two men for a beautiful woman is almost always epic. Basil Rathbone, despite supporting role, has left a good impression.

Lionel Atwill, who plays Arabella's uncle and, worse, Blood's nemesis, is a notch about the supporting player category. A somewhat strange and sinister person off screen, he was the in-house villain, ready and willing to snarl and glare.

I think this movie, despite the year of issue, does not act old. The film begins and ends in a kind of a perfect circle. It features a lot of drama, adventure, action, charm and humor. This film, once watched, would or should bring a smile to everyone, except perhaps the most hardened movie goer. The story has flaws, but it is interesting. The soundtrack is excellent. Perhaps it is too much like a fairytale and romantic. Yes, in that fact I do not see anything wrong.
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Enter Errol Flynn
krishkmenon26 April 2011
Errol Flynn in his first swashbuckler for Warner Brothers is a rare treat indeed. This timeless classic can be viewed again and again without a sense of monotony.

Everything is right in this 1935 film classic. What more can you ask for?

The dashing Flynn with his swordplay and action.

The ravishing Olivia in romance.

The devilishly suave villainy of Basil Rathbone.

Michael Curtiz at his height of spectacular action.

Sumptuous production by WB

And last but not in any way least --- Aaah that Korngold score. Put all the above together and you have a once in a lifetime combination which set off a series of such movies with the same team.

In the beginning it is rumored that Errol lacked self-confidence and had to re-shoot many scenes. He could not have been better cast for his first blockbuster than as Dr.Peter Blood a man wrongfully enslaved by a tyrant king later turning to piracy and then as the Governor of a Crown Colony. Perhaps Flynn was living a part of his own life as he had earlier in his native Tasmania been an accomplished sailor and a rebel and had sailed the Pacific solo in a light sail boat before reaching Hollywood.

Olivia de Havilland stands up well in her portrayal as Arabella spiting her uncle to free his slaves.

The battle scenes are terrific as one would expect from director Curtiz but with a difference - this was his first. He set himself high standards after Capt Blood and make no mistake his later films were also great actioners.

Basil Rathbone that great actor is a trifle under-shadowed by a slight case of miscasting but delivers as the French pirate Levasseur. The climatic duel with Flynn is superb but one has to understand that Rathbone was the accomplished fencer to Flynn being above an amateur. He was to later repeat his defeats to Flynns swordplay in later films.

Captain Blood also brought us the music of the great Erich Wolfgang Korngold. Korngold captures the flavors of the seafaring pirates with the majesty of the ocean waves but my personal favorite has to be "the Ship in the night' the background score when Arabellas ship is passing Bloods pirate vessel in the high seas.

One can go on and on about Captain Blood but to sum up it can be said that this movie has given such joy and excitement to over four generations and will continue for the next few.
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Errol Flynn in His Star-Making Turns
wes-connors11 September 2007
Errol Flynn (as Peter Blood) is a doctor who quite rightly helps Rebels against Royalty and is condemned to slavery for his offense; he is bought by Olivia de Havilland (as Arabella), to serve her ruthless Uncle Lionel Atwell (as Colonel Bishop). Soon, "Doctor Blood" escapes to become swashbuckling pirate "Captain Blood"...

Mr. Flynn is remarkably new and good in this film; though he is made-up, he is not made-over - so, his naturalness is stunning. Understandably, the studio outfitted him more and more into these roles; while they are great, you will see a much more natural performance from Flynn in this film. Ms. de Havilland is likewise new and good; together, they get magical - assisted by Michael Curtiz' direction and Hal Mohr's photography. There are some wittily written passages, and a crew of sporting supporting Pirates. While the action sequences will pale by today's standards, the film's pluses will remain timeless.

Some asides: I expected scriptwriters to bump off Ross Alexander (as Jeremy Pitt); he is the best supporting actor, and I was pleasantly surprised by the character's treatment. I don't mind most flaws, but supposedly dead bodies opening their eyes is one that bothers me; watch for a certain character to open his eyes after death; specifically, when the second ocean waves over his body (WHY didn't they just cut out the second wave?)

******** Captain Blood (12/19/35) Michael Curtiz ~ Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Ross Alexander, Lionel Atwell
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