Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Movie Talk: Six More Fast Ones

A few more of the movies we watched this summer.
  • The Seahawk: Ferdy on Films (which any movie lovers should be reading) began an occasional series talking about "films of high adventure." This was a highly recommended movie and I highly recommend it as well. When you have Errol Flynn pirating Spanish ships for Queen Elizabeth then you've got good fun ... and high adventure. Grade: A.

  • Hugo: Martin Scorses's film version of the very popular book for young readers. Although the look and acting were spot-on, about halfway through the movie suddenly took on another complete storyline. It felt as if there was too much trying to be said at one time ... or something. I got the book from the library and the movie did indeed seem to be faithful to the book. Perhaps that extreme faithfulness was the problem as film is such a different storytelling medium.  Grade: C.

  • The Adventures of Robin Hood: starring Errol Flynn and many of the actors from The Seahawk, this was a much less successful movie from my point of view. It may have gone over well back in the day for Robin and his Merry Men to actually stand, fists on hips, chortling, "Ha, ha, ha!" when Little John tosses Robin in the stream and other such scenes of merriment. However it just seemed lame from our vantage point. Also, the story was less complex and much less engaging than The Seahawk. I have had Captain Blood recommended as Flynn's best swashbuckler so that has gone on my list.

  • Witness for the Prosecution: a classic Agatha Christie novella (or play or short story?) focusing on a courtroom trial. I chose it for Charles Laughton's performance which was wonderful, as indeed was every performance in the film. The cast includes Marlene Dietrich and Tyrone Powers so that isn't surprising. Unfortunately I remembered the twist ending from my many rereadings of Christie stories but Tom didn't see it coming and said that he was surprised, so it holds up well. Grade: A.

  • The Mark of Zorro: After seeing Tyrone Powers in Witness for the Prosecution, I recalled that he was in many swashbucklers a la Errol Flynn and rented this 1940 Zorro movie. It was truly wonderful and I actually found myself remembering Flynn's performances as ... well ... much more wooden than I thought them at the time. In other words, Powers was subtler, funnier, and just plain better in his part. This is a great excuse to watch more swashbucklers in the future.

  • Hanna: A teenage girl has been raised in isolation by her father somewhere Scandinavian. He's been emphasizing the lethal arts and when she says that she's "ready" to enter the modern world we find out why. Well, we actually don't find out "why" until much later but we can see that she needs her acquired skills as there are lethal forces out after this sweet looking teenager. I was interested in her encounters with real civilization and trying to make friends with a family she encounters, but the movie dashes on in favor of displaying more lethality. (I'm almost positive that's a word.) Ho hum. There were a few brief attempts to tie the story to fairy tales and many missed opportunities to do so. Had that been done more successfully this movie would have been deeper and more interesting. As it was, this is almost as bad as Taken. Let's leave it there.


  1. I haven't found a Flynn movie that I didn't enjoy. You're friend is right about Captain Blood being one of his better swashbuckler. I would also recommend Objective Burma, a WWII movie a bit long but very intense.

  2. Yes to Captain Blood! One of my favorites. I also recommend The Crimson Pirate if you want to laugh (Burt Lancaster), which includes the original boat gag that was cribbed in Pirates of the Caribbean. -Jean