Movie Review: Captain Blood (1935)

Synopsis: Convicted of treason after helping a rebel during the Monmouth Rebellion against King James II, Dr. Peter Blood is sold into slavery in India. He is purchased by the niece of a local military commander and, with her help, becomes the governor's physician. However, despite his relatively easy workload, Blood's desire to be a free man results in him escaping with other slaves and becoming a pirate captain.

Who's in it? The movie stars Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Lionel Atwill, Basil Rathbone and Ross Alexander.

Review: I have seen bits and pieces of this movie over the years but had never actually taken the time to watch the film in its entirety. I changed that this weekend when, feeling a bit lazy on Sunday, decided to finally watch it. After doing so, I have to say it has become one of my favorite pirate movies.

The overall story was an intriguing one. Blood (Flynn) starts out as a former soldier determined to choose helping people over violence but, as the movie progresses, the various ways he has been wronged do end up changing him, as does being a pirate. The fact he is a changed man does make the movie a little less predictable because it was hard to tell if he would eventually cross a line he couldn't come back from.

I was especially intrigued by his decision to lead an escape when, comparatively speaking, he didn't have that hard of a life. Yes, the idea of not having his freedom was an important one but, at the same time, tending to a sick governor (George Hassell) while flirting with the beautiful Arabella (de Havilland) didn't seem like something worth risking his life over, especially since it was only a 10-year sentence.

I was equally intrigued by Arabella, mostly because her motives for purchasing Blood and helping him weren't completely clear. She seemed to be attracted to him but, at the same time, was quick to remind him he was her slave whenever he did something she didn't approve of. It would have been interesting to know what was going through her head early on in the movie.

My biggest complaint about the film is the ending. I'm obviously not a fan of loose ends but, at the same time, movies can go a little too far in the other direction and tie things up in a bow that is just a little too neat. This movie does that.

I'm not saying it should have had a tragic ending. I just think it was a film that could have been slightly better had it had more of a to-be-continued style finish, perhaps with Blood sailing off into the sunset with Arabella at his side and the British fleet still hunting him down. After all, he did sink ships and kill innocent people while he was a pirate, having an ending that doesn't take that into consideration seems to be stretching things a bit.

Final Opinion: As I said, I would have ended the movie differently. However, the overall film was entertaining and fun to watch and I would still recommend it as a result.

My Grade: A-


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