Filled Under: Olivia de Havilland
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