Another swashbuckling Errol Flynn adventure, but one lacking some key elements of past Flynn films. First, the film lacks a truly strong villain - while Claude Rains and Henry Daniell are always super at what they do, THE SEA HAWK needs a Basil Rathbone, who could back up his villainous words with action. Second, there are no sparks between Flynn and leading lady Brenda Marshall, certainly nothing comparable to those found in the memorable pairings of Flynn and Olivia de Havilland in previous films. Finally, although Flynn is supported by hearty band of Warner Brothers favorites, including his usual sidekick Alan Hale, there is not enough by-play among them, and Flynn must carry most of the film by himself.
Still, as swashbuckling Errol Flynn flicks go, it may pale if compared to CAPTAIN BLOOD or THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, but THE SEA HAWK is still a splendid time guaranteed for all. Especially welcome is Flora Robson's superbly cheeky performance of Queen Elizabeth. She outshines everybody, including Flynn himself, and steals the film in every scene in which she appears. Warners also spared no expense in building a huge soundstage large enough to fit full-sized sailing ships, making battle scenes more realistic than the oft-used "model shot" method. The studio saved money by recycling costumes from another film, and reusing shots from the studio's silent version of THE SEA HAWK. ½ - JB