Production Company: Warner Bros., Cosmopolitan Productions
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Top Billed Actors: Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Lionel Atwill
Won 0 Oscars
Nominated for 5 more:
Best Director - Michael Curtiz
Best Writing (Adapted) - Casey Robinson
Best Original Score - Leo F. Forbsten (Score by Erich Wolfgang Korngold)
Best Sound - Nathan Levinson
Plot: A swashbuckler can't decide on a career choice as he tries being a doctor, a slave, a pirate, a volunteer Naval commander, and finally a governor.
It's awesome that Curtiz received the second-most votes for Best Director on just write-ins. He deserved this honor because this movie has some great visual moments. The action sequences are much tighter than Mutiny on the Bounty (1935) (although Mutiny may have more grandiose ship-sailing scenes). Watching Errol Flynn run around with his sword is a nice shot of adrenaline. Plenty of pyrotechnics and stunt-work round out these amazing battle scenes. There are also moments when Curtiz puts the camera at just the right angle to capture larger-than-life shadows on the wall. These moments are few, but powerful. These strong visuals pair well with the aforementioned Korngold score. I noticed it right away as I compare this to other movies from the era. Most films from the early 1930's just don't emphasize music, but Korngold shatters that mentality and provides the Romantic-era, classic golden age Hollywood music we have come to know and love.
I wish I could stop at the importance of the clean action and the historical music score. However, the story drew me out of the movie on more than one occasion. What irked me the most is how Peter Blood (Flynn) becomes a pirate. We see how good of a soul he has in very rotten situations over and over again, then we see him become a plunderer and thief. We don't often see him in action against helpless victims, but it is made to look like that is how he got his riches. I would have appreciated an explanation that Blood only attacks other pirates, or that he only attacks British ships that are faithful to the corrupt king. Instead, we get a somewhat morally-conscious pirate that becomes the most successful captain in those waters. The final sea-battle between Blood and the French ships is also a little perplexing. Blood's ship is able to attack two ships at once. I guess even in 1935, we have heroes overcome the most impossible odds.
Overall, the directing and music has taken leaps and bounds forward in terms of what we have come to expect in movies today. A couple of weak story moments hinder the overall experience, but it's still fun to see Flynn swashbuckle his way out of tight spots.
My Score: 7/10