Filled Under: Basil Rathbone
THE MOST MAGNIFICENT & THRILLING SEA ADVENTURE EVER FILMED
(original print ad for “Captain Blood” – 1935)
“Captain Blood” is a 1935 swashbuckling film made by First National Pictures and Warner Brothers. It was directed by Michael Curtiz and produced by Harry Joe Brown and Gordon Hollingshead with Hal B. Wallis as executive producer. The screenplay, written by Casey Robinson, is based on the novel of the same name by Rafael Sabatini. It features a stirring musical score by Erich Wolfgang Korngold. (“Captain Blood” was first film to feature a musical score by Korngold who went on to become one of Hollywood’s greatest composers.) The movie stars Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland with Lionel Atwill, Basil Rathbone, Ross Alexander, Guy Kibbee, and Henry Stephenson,. Some of the impressive sea-battle footage was taken from the silent classic “The Sea Hawk” (1924). “Captain Blood” was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture and, despite not being nominated, director Michael Curtiz received the second-greatest number of votes for Best Director, solely as a write-in candidate. The film also recieved Academy Award nominations for Music (Scoring), Sound Recording (Nathan Levinson) and Writing (Screenplay).
In seventeenth century England, Irish Dr. Peter Blood (Errol Flynn) is arrested during the Monmouth Rebellion and falsely convicted of treason. He is banished to the West Indies and sold into slavery. In Port Royal, Jamaica the Governor’s daughter Arabella Bishop (Olivia De Havilland) buys him to spite her uncle, Col. Bishop (Lionel Atwill) who owns a major plantation. Life is hard for the men and for Blood as well. By chance he treats the Governor’s gout and is soon part of the medical service. He dreams of freedom and when the opportunity arrises, he and his friends rebel, taking over a Spanish ship that has attacked the city. Soon, they are the most feared pirates on the seas, men without a country attacking all ships. When Arabella and royal emissary Lord Willoughby (Henry Stephenson) are captured by Blood’s treacherous partner Captain Levasseur (Basil Rathbone), Blood rescues them. He decides to return her to Port Royal only to find that it is under the control of England’s new enemy, France. All of them must decide if they are to fight for their new King.
“Captain Blood” was a big gamble for Warner Brothers in 1935. It was an expensive production, costing one million without any household names as both Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland became stars only after the film’s release. It was the first of eight films co-starring De Havilland and Flynn. In his biography, “My Wicked, Wicked Ways” Errol Flynn (an infamous prankster) states that he played many pranks on Olivia de Havilland during the filming of the movie. One of them was leaving a dead snake in her underwear drawer, which she found when she went to put them on. After that she lived in terror of what prank he would pull on her next.
Errol Flynn was so nervous during the initial shooting that director Michael Curtiz had to re-shoot his early scenes much later into the production, by which time Flynn had gained a level of confidence. Although they worked together a total of twelve times, Errol Flynn and Michael Curtiz disliked each other intensely.
“Captain Blood” Trailer
“Anna Karenina” (1935 – MGM) is the most famous and critically acclaimed film adaptation of the classic novel Anna Karenina written by Leo Tolstoy. The film is directed by Clarence Brown and stars Greta Garbo, Fredric March, Basil Rathbone, Freddie Bartholomew, Maureen O’Sullivan, May Robson, and Reginald Owen.
“Anna Karenina” is set mostly in Moscow during the weeks that follow the initial meeting of the lovers to be Vronsky and Anna Karenina. Anna Karenina (Greta Garbo) is the wife of Czarist official Karenin (Basil Rathbone). While she tries to persuade her brother Stiva (Reginald Owen) from a life of debauchery, she meets and falls in love with dashing military officer Count Vronsky (Fredric March). This indiscreet liaison ruins her marriage and her position in 19th century Russian society. She is even prohibited from seeing her own son Sergei (Freddie Bartholomew). The story, as it unfolds, also focuses on Kitty (Maureen O’Sullivan), a young woman who is related to Anna’s sister-in-law. Until Anna shows up, Kitty had hopes of getting Vronsky, who is single and well connected, to propose to her. Soon she is ignored by Vronsky and turns her attention to another suitor.
“Anna Karenina” is like many of the typical high-budget MGM films, the direction is excellent, the sets are big and well done, and the music is wonderful. The cast as a whole give great, impressive performances. Basil Rathbone’s portrayal as the cold and unforgiving Karenin is superb and almost equals that of Garbo’s. Freddie Bartholomew was eleven years old when the film was made and he is very memorable in his role as Anna Karenina’s son Sergei, especially in the scenes he has with Garbo. Fredric March’s portrayal of Vronsky was not his best performance but he was still very good. Maureen O’Sullivan, May Robson, and Reginald Owen were also very good in their supporting roles. But the heart of “Anna Karenina” was Greta Garbo. She is unforgettable as a woman helpless in the situation she finds herself in and heartbroken at the loss of her son.
“Anna Karenina” opened August 30, 1935 in New York City at the Capitol Theatre, the site of many prestigious MGM premieres and earned $2,304,000 at the box office. The film won the Mussolini Cup for best foreign film at the Venice Film Festival. Greta Garbo received a New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress for her role as Anna. The film was ranked #42 on the American Film Institute’s list of AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Passions.