I spent Sunday afternoon taking apart a futon and clearing out our computer desk as we prepare to move our desktop computer from the spare bedroom - slated to become my son's room in a few months - into the master bedroom. Fortunately it turned out to be a good day for Errol Flynn movies - no, I don't watch the Super Bowl - with The Adventures of Robin Hood and The Sea Hawk on TCM.
Among gamers of a certain age, The Adventures of Robin Hood is akin to a sort of sacrament. It was Errol Flynn and Basil Rathbone battling in Nottingham Castle that Gary Gygax wanted to emulate with the hit point rules in OD&D, to capture the back-and-forth of the duelists on the castle steps.
The Sea Hawk is less well-known. Peripherally drawn from the Rafael Sabatini novel of the same name, Errol Flynn plays Captain Thorpe, one of Queen Elizabeth's "Sea Hawks" and a thorn in the side of the Spanish. Thorpe believes the Spanish are preparing to attack England with a great Armada and sets out to expose and foil their plans. The movie concludes with a dramatically-lit duel in the throne room of Winchester Palace.
An earlier silent version was filmed in 1924, directed by Frank Lloyd; the Errol Flynn movie, filmed sixteen years later, used footage from the earlier film, including full-sized replica ships in action off Santa Catalina Island, just off the California coast (and not far from where the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels would be filmed some eighty years later). I've not seen the Lloyd version of The Sea Hawk, but it sounds like it was much closer to Mr Sabatini's tale.
I would love to see a remake of The Sea Hawk, one that hews closer to the Sabatini book. In addition to swashbuckling action among the galleys and corsairs of the Mediterranean, it's a remarkable tale about a largely forgotten period of contact and conflict between Christian Europe and Muslim Africa.