The Sea Hawk (1924 film)

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The Sea Hawk
The Sea Hawk - 1924 theatrical poster.jpg
1924 theatrical poster
Directed by Frank Lloyd
Produced by Frank Lloyd
Screenplay by J. G. Hawks
Walter Anthony
Based on The Sea Hawk
by Rafael Sabatini
Starring Milton Sills
Enid Bennett
Lloyd Hughes
Wallace MacDonald
Marc McDermott
Wallace Beery
Music by Modest Altschuler
Cecil Copping
John LeRoy Johnston
Cinematography Norbert F. Brodin
Edited by Edward M. Roskam
Distributed by Associated First National Pictures
Release date
  • June 14, 1924 (1924-06-14) (U.S. theatrical)
Running time
123 minutes
Country United States
Language Silent film
English intertitles
Box office $2 million[1]

The Sea Hawk is a 1924 American silent film about an English noble sold into slavery who escapes and turns himself into a pirate king. Directed by Frank Lloyd, the screen adaptation was written by J. G. Hawks based upon the Rafael Sabatini novel of the same name.[2]


At the instigation of his half brother Lionel (Lloyd Hughes), Oliver Tressilian (Milton Sills), a wealthy baronet, is shanghaied and blamed for the death of Peter Godolphin (Wallace MacDonald), brother of Oliver's fiancée, whom Lionel actually has slain. At sea Oliver is captured by Spaniards and made a galley slave, but when he escapes to the Moors he becomes Sakr-el-Bahr, the scourge of Christendom. Learning of Rosamund's (Enid Bennett) impending marriage to his half brother, he kidnaps both of them, but to avoid the risk of giving her to Asad-ed-Din (Frank Currier), the Basha of Algiers, he surrenders to a British ship. Rosamund intercedes to save his life, and following the death of Lionel they are married.


The movie is based on the novel by Rafael Sabatini, The Sea Hawk. It premiered on June 2, 1924, in New York City, about twelve days before its theatrical debut.

Lloyd recognized that moviegoers of 1924 would be put off by miniature models, and instructed that full-sized ships be created for use in the film at a cost of $200,000.[2] This was done by outfitting the wooden exteriors of existing craft to the design of Fred Gabourie, known for his work in constructing props used in Buster Keaton films.[3] The ocean scenes were filmed off the coast of California's Catalina Island, with 150 tents set up on the island for housing and support of the film's 1,000 extras, 21 technicians, 14 actors and 64 sailors.[2][4][3]

A movie with the same title (but an entirely different plot) was released in 1940, starring Errol Flynn. The studio used some key scenes from battles in the 1924 film. They spliced the scenes into the 1940 film, thinking they could not have been done better.[5][4] The life-sized replicas were considered so well recreated, that Warner Bros. repeatedly used them in later nautical films.[6]

Referenced in The Lost World; when the explorers return to London, there is a shot of the London Pavilion with a flashing sign advertising a showing of The Sea Hawk.



When the film was released, a New York Times critic called it, "far and away the best sea story that's yet been done up to that point".[citation needed] It held that unofficial status for years.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "FILM WORLD.". The West Australian. Perth: National Library of Australia. 19 October 1934. p. 2. Retrieved 19 April 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c Wood, Bret. "The Sea Hawk (1924)". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 25 November 2010. 
  3. ^ a b "The Sea Hawk (1924)". Movie Diva. Retrieved 25 November 2010. 
  4. ^ a b Druxman, Michael B. (1975). Make it again, Sam: a survey of movie remakes (illustrated ed.). A. S. Barnes. ISBN 978-0-498-01470-3. 
  5. ^ Sabatini, Rafael (2002). The Sea-Hawk (reprint ed.). W. W. Norton & Company. p. viii. ISBN 978-0-393-32331-3. 
  6. ^ Turan, Kenneth (April 7, 1994). "A Bounty of Rescued Celluloid Movies: The 1924 `Sea Hawk' launches UCLA's monthlong Festival of Preservation tonight.". Los Angeles Times. pp. 1, Calendar; PART–F;. Retrieved 25 November 2010. 

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