Captain Blood (1935)

You may or may not recall this post. Suffice to say I haven’t exactly been active in remedying these “blind spots”, but it’s time to strike at least one item from that list… and it seemed suitable to follow the Fairbanks box with this, the star-making film for one of his chief heirs. I don’t know if Errol Flynn had actually improved much as an actor in the two years since In the Wake of the Bounty (what a terrible film that is, and how bad is he in it), but he works in the lead role somehow despite that. Neither he nor romantic interest Olivia de Havilland were really known quantities in Hollywood when they got the lead parts in the film, so it did represent a fair gamble for Warner’s, but it paid off… Anyway, Peter Blood is an Irish doctor inadvertently swept up in a revolt against King James II in 1687, sold into slavery in Port Royal, and eventually escaping into a life of piracy. Flynn’s accent admittedly gets in the way of fully believing in his character’s Irish origins, but the other American actors sound about as English as Flynn sounds Irish, so. The key thing is that he gets the basic insolence of the character, his anger at his servitude and all of that; it may not always be the best delivery of lines, but it’s a fine performance. I only wish there’d been more actual piracy, as Blood’s pirate career is mostly dealt with in a montage; although I’m not usually prone to wishing a film already lasting two hours were longer, I could definitely have gone another half hour of this, especially if it were as good as the hugely thrilling climactic battle between Blood’s crew and the French ships bombarding Port Royal. It is ludicrous that it’s taken me so many years to finally see this. Worth all the wait.

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