Most of the key artists of early Swashbucklers were involved in this film (director Curtiz, Korngold, Flynn, de Havilland, Rathbone, Pallette, Hale, Rains, fencing master Cavens). With the addition of color The Adventures of Robin Hood became the standard bearer for the genre.
One could argue that this is the first true sound Swashbuckler. It certainly has it all: pirates, a brave hero, a story by Rafael Sabatini, and some of the best movie music ever written (by the master, Erich Wolfgang Korngold).
Any list of top Swashbucklers needs at least one film based on the works of Alexandre Dumas, and this is the best of them. Pleasingly acted and filmed, it still just barely counts as a Swashbuckler due to its leisurely pacing and scarcity of swordfights.
This film works on José Ferrer’s Oscar-winning performance, and on the poetic dialog—taken from Brian Hooker’s translation of the French play. The low budget is obvious, but Ferrer projects the honor and love in the story so well that it makes up for any flaws.
The joy of this film comes from listening. Ronald Colman’s voice is nearly an institution; add in the voices of Douglas Fairbanks Jr., C. Aubrey Smith, Raymond Massey, and David Niven and the picture becomes almost unnecessary.
Scaramouche comes at the end of the golden age of Swashbucklers. Westerns were still clinging to the simplistic good vs. evil morality, but for Swashbucklers the charm was waning. Add that pretty much everything that could be done with the genre had been done, and it’s not surprising that its time was over. Still, it
There’s not much new in The Sea Hawk, but then there’s not much wrong either. This is Captain Blood, all grown up. Everyone had worked in the genre and knew exactly what to do, and did it well.