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  • Warning: Spoilers
    The 1924 silent of "Captain Blood" seems to exist only in a very truncated version. I watched the Grapevine video release which runs just over 30 minutes (the original was 110 minutes!}. What remains of the film indicates that this was quite a reasonably exciting swashbuckler--typically short on relationships and strong on action sequences. After the rather abrupt opening scene in which the hero, Dr Blood, {J. Warren Kerrigan} is arrested for treason, we find ourselves in the Barbados where the hero is being sold as a slave. We meet the Governor {who soon decides to rely on the Doctor's services}. the vicious Colonel Bishop and his beautiful daughter {Jean Paige} who, of course, is instinctively attracted to Dr Blood!

    The plot proceeds at a breakneck pace with Dr Blood leading a group of slaves to take over a Spanish ship, the Arabella. After sailing off, he proceeds to rescue the Colonel's daughter and King William's emissary to find that he is now exonerated, made Captain Blood and his slave crew freed.

    The finale of the film is an effective sea battle with explosions, sinking ships, boarding fights, captures etc. This version is based on the same book by Rafael Sabatini as the 1935 remake and ends in much the same way.

    The film gives an appealing thirty minutes of action, and one wonders what the original was like. But it is possible that we have the best sequences in this shortened copy. Perhaps the full length version would have been comparable to "The Black Pirate" made two years later in two-strip Technicolor or the great 1935 remake with Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland, but I doubt it. Kerrigan is adequate in the role but he is a distant third to Douglas Fairbanks and Errol Flynn. Olivia de Havilland completely outshines Jean Paige and there is no one in the 1924 silent who can remotely compare as a villain to Basil Rathbone.

    So, in the end, it's an enjoyable way to swash your buckle for a half-hour but that's about it.
  • Actually, it wasn't as static as I'm making it out. I think I've been spoiled by the 1935 Errol Flynn version - now, there was an action picture. This one concentrates on character development rather than excitement, at least that's how I interpreted it. This silent version is also a tribute to the hard work done by the unsung heroes at the Library of Congress to restore old movies in need of restoration. This one had been cannibalized by Warner Bros. for their remake , having removed many battle scenes, except for a rousing one at the end of the picture.

    This restoration is clear and with hardly any flaws in the print. It has a cast of long forgotten actors, and, truth be told, is just not as interesting as the later version. Shown at Capitolfest, Rome, NY, 8/19.

    ****** 6/10 - Website no longer prints my star rating.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    For years only a 30m video tape circulated on this title. However, the 89m version copied by the Library of Congress film conservation center in the 1970s has now started to play a few festivals and word is getting out that this is a must see for fans of Rafael Sabatini, J. Warren Kerrigan and that amazing re-make that launched Errol Flynn & Olivia de Havilland into super-stardom! Spoilers: (Here is a truncated 1924 review from the original release) To the thunder of drums and the crashing of cymbals, interspersed with stirring old English airs, the picturized version of Rafael Sabatini's "Captain Blood" was unfurled last night, hard on the heels of "The Sea Hawk," by the same author. Youngsters who revel in the ruddy activities of seventeenth century pirates will find plenty to think and dream about in this picture. Captain Hook and Long John Silver can't hold a candle to Peter Blood when it comes to listening placidly to fierce threats from the loose lips of a fat Governor of Jamaica; neither can the stumping Silver nor the bellowing Hook compete with the redoubtable Blood when the latter is dressed for the fray, having, mind you, always one of his well-eyebrowed eyes on the lookout for Arabella, niece of the pompous old Governor. This Sabatini pirate, an ostrich plume in his velvet hat and old lace dangling from the sleeves of his embroidered coat, a disinterested smile under his acquiline nose, without a flicker of an eyelid calmly orders his sweetheart's uncle to walk the plank. And when the plethoric body strikes the water he treats the occurrence with about as much show of excitement as Beau Brummel showed for the smile from a beautiful woman. Peter Blood is impersonated by J. Warren Kerrigan, who was the hero in "The Covered Wagon." To be able to wear his wig as well as the men of yore, Mr. Kerrigan made a great sacrifice—he shaved his head. So with shorn pate one sees Captain Blood in bed wearing a flannelette nightgown with circular stripes. At first he is a physician, a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, but because he had the temerity to administer aid to a wounded rebel he is shipped to Bridgetown, Barbados, as a slave. There he is seen with unkempt hair and beard. He saves the lives of Arabella (Jean Paige) and Mary Traill (Charlotte Merriam), and with the aid of others captures one of the Spanish ships and becomes the neatest, best-dressed sea-robber of the Spanish Main. This production was made by Vitagraph, Inc., and directed by David Smith. Interesting in many parts, with action, drama, romance, the sea battle, which is quite good, except in those stages where miniatures are used. Miss Paige, who officiates as the heroine, Arabella, for whom Captain Blood renamed his ship, is a quiet little lady, intent on showing her profile and smiling at Blood. Charlotte Merriam's eyebrows are of an up-to-date variety, which we might hazard did not exist in those turbulent times. Wilfrid North gives a good performance as Colonel Bishop, a famous old slave drive, who when the men did not work with sufficient vigor flayed them with a whip. Obvious motion picture welts are shown on the backs of the slaves. The sea battle between the English and French is impressively pictured in certain stretches, notably when the vessels are blown up. The blast of the guns is shown by hand-painted portions of the film. However, the many "shots" of miniatures are not particularly good, except where they fit into the action. Mr. Kerrigan is capable in his characterization of Blood. It is palpable that a great effort has been made to produce this picture accurately. There are many excellent settings in this picture, and the sight of the ships at sea is quite good.

    CAPTAIN BLOOD, with J. Warren Kerrigan, Jean Paige, Charlotte Merriam, James Morrison, Allan Forrest, Bertram Grassby, Otis Harlan, Jack Curtis, Wilfrid North, Henery Herbert, Tom McGuire, Otto Matiesen, Robert Bolder, Miles McCarthy, Templar Saxe, Boyd Irwin, Joseph Rickson, Henry Barrows, Frank Whitson, Helen Howard, Robert Milash, William Eugene, George Williams, Omar Whitehead, Muriel Paull and George Lewis; adapted from the novel by Rafael Sabatini; directed by David Smith.