Would that I had been struck as blind as Oedipus before ever I saw this hideous, excruciating headline:

Phillip Noyce to Remake Captain Blood

Phillip Noyce has signed to develop and direct “Captain Blood,” Warner Bros.’ long-gestating remake of the swashbuckling 1935 classic. The Academy Award-nominated pirate movie starred Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland and Basil Rathbone and was based on a novel by Rafael Sabatini. Set in the 1600s, it tells the story of a doctor who is convicted for treason against the King of England, sold into slavery and escapes to high seas as a pirate.

Here is who will not be in the remake:

Olivia de Havilland will not be playing Arabella Bishop

And by that, I mean, they are going to make a version of CAPTAIN BLOOD without Olivia de Havilland

Basil Rathbone will not be playing the pirate Levasseur

In other words, strange as it seems, , they are going to make a version of CAPTAIN BLOOD without Basil Rathbone

And, finally, Errol Flynn will not be playing Captain Blood.

Let me repeat that: they are going to make a version of CAPTAIN BLOOD without Errol Flynn.

I do not mean Errol is in the film playing Mr. Bishop or some other role. He will not be in the film AT ALL.

This implies two things. First, he will not be in the film with Olivia de Havilland

By which I mean, she and he will not be in the film, neither together nor separately, not at all, in any capacity. Try to imagine CAPTAIN BLOOD without this screen duo.

Second, this implies he will not be in the film with Basil Rathbone.

Obviously, as neither actor will be in the film, they will not fence each other in the film

Is also means that Errol Flynn will not buy Olivia de Havilland from Basil Rathbone with a bag of pearls.

The other thing this means is that Korngold will not write the musical score.

CAPTAIN BLOOD was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Picture for its year: it is the film that launched Flynn (26 or so) and de Havilland (19) into major stardom. It was beautifully photographed and edited.

It is, in other words, THE film that established the gold standard of what a swashbuckler movie was supposed to be: it is the film that imprinted in the imagination in indelible images and unforgettable music what a pirate story was and should be. It was the first of many love affairs, sword fights, sieges, sea fights, intrigues, and deeds of daring-do. This is the paradigm pirate swashbuckler movie.

And they are going to remake it?

With whom? How?

Who is going to star? Some luminary of the caliber of, say, Leonardo DiCaprio?


Maybe the casting choices will be as inspired as the choice to cast Keanu Reaves as Klaatu in the remake of DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL. Maybe the director will try to make the film ‘relevant’ and ‘edgy’ and use the opportunity to ‘make a statement’ about his political opinions.

On the other hand, maybe a the events predicted in the Apocalypse of St. John will speedily come, and this director be stung by a monster with the teeth of a lion, hair of a woman, body of a horse, whose sting has the power to cause men to suffer for five months, to cry for death but not to die; and maybe one third of the sun will darken, the skies grow black as ash, and one third of the living creatures in the sea shall perish, and the rivers turn to blood; and on that day the unrighteous will gnaw their tongues for thirst, blaspheming God, and will cry to the mountains to fall on them and bury them, that they might hide from the wrath of heaven.

On balance, should these tribulations come to pass, these events might be more enjoyable or less enjoyable than a modern remake of CAPTAIN BLOOD. Much depends on your personal preference.

On the griping hand, maybe I should be grateful that anyone in Hollywood is contemplating remaking a pirate flick. Perhaps this is the beginning of some sort of Renaissance for swords-and-funny-hats films, and honest swashbuckling entertainment. I certainly enjoyed all the Disney Pirate movies to no end, and that was a remake of a theme park ride, for Pete’s Sake.


Lional Atwill will also not be in the film. He will not be playing Mr. Bishop, Arabella’s father. If you do not know who this is, I assume you never watch such screen delights as SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE SECRET WEAPON, where he played the evil scientist Professor Moriarity, or the CAPTAIN AMERICA cliffhangers, where he played the evil scientist Doctor Scarab , or THE VAMPIRE BAT starring Fay Wray, where he played, um, yet another evil scientist. Well, he also played De Rochefort in the 1939 version of THE THREE MUSKETEERS. I am happy to report that CAPTAIN BLOOD is one of his rare non-evil-scientist appearances.