movie review: the sea hawk

This post is part of the Swashathon hosted by Movies Silently.

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I inherited my love of swashbucklers from my grandfather, who is a huge fan of the genre in general – and of Errol Flynn’s films in particular.  While I don’t care for Errol Flynn much, old-fashioned swashbucklers are a big favorite of mine.  The glamorous action, feats of derring-do, music, romance, and gorgeous costumes all come together beautifully to create a kind of film that can still entertain today. (I know there are swashbucklers made today.  But the old ones were the best, in my opinion.)

On to the review!

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As Spain prepares an armada to invade England, British privateer Geoffrey Thorpe (Errol Flynn) embarks on a mission to loot Spanish ships. When he captures the vessel carrying ambassador Don Jose Alvarez de Cordoba (Claude Rains), the dashing captain falls for his niece, the beautiful Dona Maria (Brenda Marshall), who settles comfortably in England. Dedicated to protecting British interests, Thorpe heads out to sea on a dangerous expedition that may determine the country’s fate.

‘The Sea Hawk’ is easily my favorite Errol Flynn movie…and my favorite swashbuckler.

Stuff I love about it (because lists are easier than an in-depth review):

~The music – Nominated for a best score Oscar, and it definitely deserved that nomination.

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~The romance between Geoffrey and Maria.  Yes, it’s a little clichéd and predictable, but so sweet.  I like how she starts out by hating/despising him but then softens.  Actually, Maria carries most of the romantic subplot by herself, as Geoffrey doesn’t have much time to think about his lady love in the jungle and the galleys.  It’s enough to bring a lump to your throat, the way Maria mourns for him. (That scene where she’s too late to warn him?  GAH.)

~How the jungle scenes are sepia-toned instead of black & white.  I dig it.

~All the other Sea Hawks.  You don’t see much of them, but they’re cool guys.

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~I LOVE THE QUEEN’S FINAL SPEECH SO MUCH.  You have to remember, that in 1940, England was at war with Germany (and had been for a year already), so I’m fairly certain that Queen Elizabeth I’s speech at the end was a good bit of patriotism that any British citizen would have found more than applicable to their current circumstances.

We have tried by all means in our power to avert this war.  We’ve no quarrel with the people of Spain or of any other country.  But when the ruthless ambition of a man threatens to engulf the world, it becomes the solemn obligation of all free men to affirm that the earth belongs not to any one man, but to all men.  And that freedom is the deed and title to the soil on which we exist.

Honestly, the only thing I would change about this movie is to have Basil Rathbone instead of Harry Daniell play Lord Wolfingham .  Basil Rathbone would’ve provided a chilling presence in the English court instead of a rather wimpy one.  Though, I suppose no-one would’ve been surprised at Wolfingham’s duplicity, then.

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The swordfights are awesome, as usual.  I’ve read the Michael Curtiz didn’t put safety tips on the ends of the blades because he wanted the actors’ reactions to be real.  Dangerous, but it made for some great scenes.

‘The Sea Hawk’ is a glowing, adventurous, swoony film, the very epitome of a swashbuckler.  Highly recommended to all fans of the genre.

Eva

mini book reviews {#1}

As promised.  Maybe a little late, but still…two posts in almost two days is pretty good for me, I think. 🙂

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~Wonder by R.J. Palacio – I re-read this one is prep for the movie and I’ve gotta say…Wonder is one amazing book.  I read it in a day.  And I’m giving Owen Wilson a huge thumbs-up as Nate Pullman.  He’s pretty much perfectly cast.

~The Scarlet Pimpernel and The Elusive Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy – Sir Percy’s adventures never, ever, EVER get old.  I love everything about these books and most of the characters.

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~The Siren by Kiera Cass – Not sure if I like this better than the Selection series, but it’s different and swoonable and so atmospheric.  I’d probably read it again.

~The Divergent series by Veronica Roth – First book: LOVE.  Second book: Slightly boring and Four is more than a little out of character in the beginning.  Third book: What. Even.  Four: All the heart emoticons, Four-style (<4).

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~Just Deserts by Eric Walters – According to my brother, almost every Eric Walters book is a copy of the last, but this one breaks the mold.  Genuinely moved me in a few places, and y’all know that I’m attracted to stories of huge jerks who become awesome human beings through a series of unfortunate events (#lightningmcqueenFORTHEWIN).

~Backlash by Sarah Darer Littman – Interesting, but ultimately a depressing look at how people cope (or don’t) with the trials of life when they don’t know Christ. *shudder*

~Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín – Movie was wayyyyyy better.

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What have you been reading lately?

Eva

mini movie reviews {#3}

I’m not going to be able to do a ‘what I’ve been reading/watching’ for these last three months – #life – so here’s some more mini movie reviews.  I’ll probably do one for books tomorrow or the day after.

The Santa Clause (1994) – Okay for a one-time watch, but not much more.  However, Tim Allen is awesome, both in this movie and in Real Life.

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Free Birds (2013) – I found Free Bird’s portrayal of the Pilgrims to be offensive and ignorant.  Besides the voice acting, there’s little to love in this movie.

The Scarlet Pimpernel (1982) – An old favorite.  Swoon over the music/costumes/romance/Sir Percy himself.  I love how the stories of The Scarlet Pimpernel and El Dorado are combined.

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From Time to Time (2009) – MAN.  This had such great potential!  But all those British actors were wasted on a boring plot.

Enchanted (2007) – The songs in here are brilliantly beautiful.  Plus, Robert.  Just…Robert.  Amy Adams is a sparkling presence, as usual, and the whole thing fits together like, well, how the glass slipper fit Cinderella’s foot.

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The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (2004) – And speaking of princesses, this film was a delightful romp.  Not A+ quality entertainment, but plenty enjoyable nonetheless.

Rio Bravo (1959) – Dean Martin. ❤  That’s all.

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Dangerous Crossing (1953) – A typical film noir.  Sort of a ‘The Lady Vanishes’ plot; intriguing without being too predictable.

How the West Was Won (1962) – The best thing about HTWWW, besides all the familiar faces, is the whole Epic Family Saga.  Definitely one of my favorite genres (if it is a genre) and I thought it was done quite well here.

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Tangled: Before Ever After (2017) – No, no, no, no, NO.  What have you done with my beloved characters?!

The LEGO Batman Movie (2017) – Um…wow.  This one really blew me away.  All the villains, for one.  And the FEELS.  Serious feels. (This is the only Batman movie I’ve watched, by the way.  EDIT: Besides his semi-major role in The LEGO Movie.)  Robin was nowhere near as bad as I thought he’d be.  And there was a Tom Cruise cameo (sort of) which made the whole thing even better.

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What movies have you been watching lately?

Eva

mini movie reviews {#2}

Some of the awesome (and not-so-awesome) films I’ve watched in the last several weeks…

Pete’s Dragon (2016) – It started out so good, with the songs and the scenery and all that, and then it devolved into stupidity and boredom.  Plus, Wes Bentley creeps me out. (Ditto for Robert Redford.)

The Sheepman (1958) – Westerns + Glenn Ford = perfect combination.  Shirley MacLaine is growing on me as an actress, too.

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The Shop Around The Corner (1940) – My favorite Jimmy Stewart role of all time; he’s an absolute sweetheart in this!  The story is fun and romantic and wayyyy too adorable.

North by Northwest (1959) – One of Hitchcock’s finest, though not a personal favorite of mine.  James Mason is TOPS, though, and seeing Martin Landau in something other than Mission: Impossible was neat.

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Darby O’Gill and the Little People (1959) – Boring.  And there was that freaky thing near the end that makes you wonder just how sane Disney was.  Only thing I liked about this one was Sean Connery.

Pride and Prejudice (1940) – And all the Jane Austen fans say “What?!”.

The Count of Monte Cristo (2002) – One of my mom’s favorites and, like The Four Feathers (also 2002), I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it.  It was dark and gritty and rather awesome.

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How many of these movies have you seen?  What films have you watched recently?

Eva

mini movie reviews {#1}

And when I say mini, I mean mini.

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Captain Horatio Hornblower (1951) – Mehhhhhhh.

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) – The book transitioned onto the screen so brilliantly, it’s incredible (so is the casting).

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It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) – SUCH a classic; Jimmy Stewart is perfect and so are all the kid actors.

Lifeboat (1944) – The Lady Vanishes has some serious competition for the title of ‘favorite Hitchcock movie ever’.

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Arizona (1940) – Jean Arthur still annoys me, but the story is actually pretty interesting.

Laura (1944)  – Elegant, glamorous, sophisticated, mysterious…am I describing the titular character or the film itself?

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The Violent Men (1955) – #obsessedwithGlennFord

3:10 to Yuma (1957) – #obsessedwithBenWade

Blackboard Jungle (1955) – #obsessedwithRichardDadierandSidneyPoitier

The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946) – I’ve seen this three times.  Great noir.

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The Birds (1963) – Rod Taylor actually grew on me this time around and I enjoy the small town setting.

Frankenstein (1931) – Boris Karloff was a lovely person, and I mean that un-sarcastically.

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What movies have you seen lately?

Eva

book review: the lost girl of astor street

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Lydia has vanished.

Lydia, who’s never broken any rules, except falling in love with the wrong boy. Lydia, who’s been Piper’s best friend since they were children. Lydia, who never even said good-bye.

Convinced the police are looking in all the wrong places, eighteen-year-old Piper Sail begins her own investigation in an attempt to solve the mystery of Lydia’s disappearance. With the reluctant help of a handsome young detective, Piper goes searching for answers in the dark underbelly of 1924 Chicago, determined to find Lydia at any cost.

When Piper discovers those answers might stem from the corruption strangling the city—and quite possibly lead back to the doors of her affluent neighborhood—she must decide how deep she’s willing to dig, how much she should reveal, and if she’s willing to risk her life of privilege for the sake of the truth.

From the glitzy homes of the elite to the mob-run streets of 1920s Chicago, Stephanie Morrill’s jazz-age mystery shows just how far a girl will go to save her friend.

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First of all, take a look at that cover.  Drink it in.  Gorgeous, isn’t it?  Well, let me tell you that the story inside fully measures up to the glamour and elegance and intrigue that the cover promises.  Just so ya’ll know before I go any further into this review, I was given an advance copy of The Lost Girl of Astor Street in exchange for my honest review.  I didn’t know much about the story before I started reading, just that the cover was pretty and it was historical YA fiction and I kinda sorta knew the author from the writing blog that she co-runs.  Oh, and A FREE BOOK.  Always exciting, right?

Anyway, I started reading and got sucked in pretty quickly.  And it ended up surprising me.  For one thing, since The Lost Girl of Astor Street is a YA novel, I expected there’d be a love triangle (especially since there’s at least three available guys that Piper could’ve become involved with) and I determined I’d slog through it and focus on the other aspects of the story, but there wasn’t a love triangle at all.  Huzzah!  What I got instead was an adorable, swoony romance that complimented the mystery side of the story without overpowering it. (I like my romantic subplots to be sweet and to the point.)

I quite liked all the characters.  Piper, of course, was determined and stubborn and actually quite inspiring since she’s the same age as me and doing so much with her life.  I did think she cried a little too much, even considering the extreme circumstances swirling around her, but that could just be me.  Lydia was a dear, as were Walter and Emma and Matthew.  Mariano was the BEST, in my opinion.  I even liked Nick.  It was so fun to read a solid, interesting novel with immensely likable characters who were easy to fall in love with.

The setting of The Lost Girl of Astor Street was beautifully drawn, both the place and the time period.  It’s always satisfying to start reading a historical novel and realize that the author has researched everything so well, and that’s what this book did for me.  1920’s Chicago was a fascinating place to ‘live in’ for several hours and as I read this on my Kindle, I kept checking to see how much I had left, not because I was bored, but because I didn’t want the story to end.  Oh, and I enjoyed the Italian mafia angle to the story – I’ve always been fascinated by The Mob for some reason, so that was cool.

Overall, The Lost Girl of Astor Street was a thoroughly enjoyable read that I’d recommend to fans of Downton Abbey and period dramas in general (books, movies, and TV shows).

Eva

mini movie review: the man who shot liberty valance

{This post is part and parcel of the John Wayne Blogathon.}

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)

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The film begins in 1910 when a successful aging U.S. senator Ransom Stoddard (James Stewart) and his wife of twenty-five years Hallie (Vera Miles) return to the small western town Shinbone, where they met, to attend the funeral of Tom Doniphon (John Wayne) a man known in the town as a good man but undistinguished.  However, as Ranse begins to tell Tom’s story, it is evident that there is more to him – and Ranse and Hallie – than meets the eye.

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What a movie.  The opening scenes alone are enough to put a lump in your throat, even if you’re only seeing it for the first time and you don’t even know what’s going on.  There’s so much aching poignancy and melancholy in both of the ‘present day’ parts (the one at the beginning and the one at the end).  As for the middle of the film, well, it’s one of the most entertaining, thoughtful westerns I’ve ever seen.  The story is tight and fast-paced and there’s something about the stark beauty and simplicity of black & white that I love, especially in this film.  And, again, it’s pretty emotional.  I definitely teared up a couple of times.

And the characters!  TMWSLV is bursting with lovable characters.  Vera Miles as Hallie is one of the standouts of the film, in my opinion, with her expressive acting and strong character.  She’s one of the best female characters I’ve ever seen in a Western movie.  James Stewart is great, as usual, and as for the bad guys…Liberty Valance is played by Lee Marvin and he makes for a delicious villain.  Very scary, very memorable.  And one of his sidekicks is played by Lee Van Cleef!  It doesn’t get any better than that.

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But I watched this movie for John Wayne, really, so I’ve saved talking about him and his character, Tom Doniphon, for last.  Now, truth be told, John Wayne isn’t one of my favorite actors.  And I haven’t much cared for him in any of the films I’ve seen him in thus far (this, The Horse Soldiers, and The Longest Day), but I went into my re-watch of TMWSLV with an open mind, determined to be fair.  And you know what?  I actually didn’t mind him much at all – in fact, there were several parts where I liked him quite a bit.  Of course, it helps that Tom is such an awesome character: sure he’s rough around the edges and he’s tough (naturally) and more than a little rude at times, but it’s near the end where you really realize how much he cares for Hallie and just how heroic he is.  So I quite liked him.

Overall, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is one of my favorite westerns ever and John Wayne is a big part of that.  Have you watched it yet?

Eva