This is remembered as Errol Flynn's great opening movie role - which is partly true. He had a nice career in Australian movies (one a film about Fletcher Christian and the Bounty), but CAPTAIN BLOOD was his first Hollywood film as a star, and it was a brilliantly colorful opening role.
Flynn plays Dr. Peter Blood, a physician who is the 1685 version of Dr. Samuel Mudd in the Assassination of Lincoln. Mudd, if you recall, treated John Wilkes Booth's broken leg, and was sentenced to life imprisonment as a result. Flynn treats some injured men not realizing they are soldiers in a revolt. When they are arrested so is he, and he ends up being transported as an indentured servant (little better than a slave) to Jamaica in the West Indies.
The revolt, by the way, is that of James, Duke of Monmouth. The son of one Lucy Walters, his father was supposed to be King Charles II, one of several lovers Walters had when James was born. King Charles had ennobled Monmouth, and treated him well at court, but refused to legitimize him as the Whigs hoped (they wanted the Protestant Monmouth on the throne, rather than the Catholic brother of Charles, James, Duke of York. In the end Monmouth led this ill-fated revolt, which was defeated at the battle of Sedgewick Moor. Monmouth was beheaded at the Tower of London. King James II (the former Duke of York) sent his most belligerent jurist, Judge George Jeffreys to the west country where hundreds were hanged at fast trials (known forever after as "The Bloody Assizes". Jeffreys appears in the film as the judge that orders Blood's transporting to the New World. However in the film Blood (desperate to prove he is just a doctor) says the judge is suffering from tuberculosis. Jeffeys actually suffered from kidney stones, and was a heavy drinker and curser as a result. King James II made him Lord Chancellor for his work.
Flynn's real adventures begin in Jamaica, where he is working at the estate of Colonel Bishop (Lionel Atwill) and his niece Arabella (Olivia De Haviland). It was the first film Flynn and De Haviland co-starred in. Atwill is a bully to these traitorous indentured servants, but Flynn's medical abilities raises him above the others. With the aid of two local doctors he plans an escape, and he and the other indentured servants (Guy Kibbee, Ross Alexander, etc.) escape after defeating a pirate attack on the island. They also have the pleasure of plundering and discomforting Atwill, who vows to hunt them down and destroy them. The only regret Flynn has in leaving is he and Arabella have fallen in love.
We watch the rise of Peter Blood as a leading pirate, his temporary partnership with the French pirate Captain Lavasseur (Basil Rathbone) - which ends in a duel over De Haviland (and the first time Rathbone had to die at Flynn's hand in a duel in their films), and his gradual emergence as a friend of a reformed England represented by Lord Willoughby (Henry Stephenson) after the "Glorious Revolution" of 1688 overthrows James II. Although not exactly the same, Blood's rise from Pirate king to Governor of Jamaica (as the film ends) is a mirror of the story (a decade earlier) of the rise of Pirate, Henry Morgan, to being Sir Henry Morgan, Lt. Governor/Governor of Jamaica. A closer acting job regarding Morgan was done by Laird Cregar in THE BLACK SWAN, where he played that Governor - and with a welsh accent. But Flynn does very nicely, with his charm, humor, good looks, and athletic grace. It was a good introduction to a Hollywood legend.
Action / Adventure
Action / Adventure
Arrested during the Monmouth Rebellion and falsely convicted of treason, Dr. Peter Blood is banished to the West Indies and sold into slavery. In Port Royal, Jamaica the Governor's daughter Arabella Bishop buys him for £10 to spite her uncle, Col. Bishop 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 strikes, 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 is prisoner, Blood 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.
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November 27, 2020 at 06:52 AM