DVR Theater: Sssh! Silent Film Edition

In my guise as Professor Film Boy, I have to admit that one of my weak spots is the silent era. I’ve seen most of the major titles of the era, sure, but every now and then as I’m thumbing through one of the Kevin Brownlow histories or rewatching some old documentary on silents (like the excellent 13 part “Hollywood” series from Thames TV in 1980 and golly gee, it’s ALL ON YOUTUBE and I had NO idea, really I didn’t…..), I’ll come across some title or sets of titles I feel like I ought to go back and watch.

First up was the 1924 adventure The Sea Hawk, not to be confused with the other adventure film The Sea Hawk from 1940 with Errol Flynn basically playing Sir Francis Drake. The silent version, based on the Rafael Sabatini novel, is the story of Elizabethan era Brit hero-of-the-Armada-battle Oliver Tressilian and how he gets sold into galley slavery by his wicked half-brother to cover up a murder. Well, he escapes (of course), renounces Christianity because of the un-Christian cruelty of the Spanish towards their captives, and converts to Islam (I’m assuming his circumcision took place offscreen and then everyone ate rugelah or baklava or whatever) when joining the Moors, changing his name to Sakr-el-Bahr (The Sea Hawk) and becomes the scourge of Spanish Christian boats everywhere. And then… it’s time for some personal revenge, although as the story plays out, much like Sabatini’s other notable works (Scaramouche and Captain Blood) the issues of forgiveness and redemption loom large.

Fast moving & fun throughout, and with a rather interesting resolution – after all, how would a 1924 work out the religious issues raised by the character’s transformation? Funny… I kept thinking throughout the thing how no studio would touch this story now Continue reading “DVR Theater: Sssh! Silent Film Edition”


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