11 January 2011

Movie Adaptations: Rafael Sabatini

By Isabel Roman

Rafael Sabatini--not many know the name but if you're a fan of the black-and-white classic movies, you know his work: Captain Blood, The Sea Hawk, Scaramouche.

Scaramouche was his most famous work and on his gravestone reads: "He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad."

Once he devoted himself to writing full-time, Rafael produced a book a year. In addition, he was an active short story writer. Through the years he built a loyal but not necessarily large readership. By the decade of the 1910s he was producing some fine work, including The Sea Hawk (1915).

However, he only became an "overnight success" (after 25 years of writing) with Scaramouche in 1921 and Captain Blood in 1922.

Captain Blood, The Sea Hawk, Scaramouche: Sabatini's most famous works have been adapted many times. How faithful were they? Faithfulness vaires, but Scaramouche the character has been taken and twisted into a stock character, the jester one might say.

Scaramouche (1923 film)
Scaramouche (1952 film)

The Sea Hawk:
The Sea Hawk (1924 film starring Milton Sills)
The Sea Hawk (1940 film starring Errol Flynn and absolutely nothing like the book!)

Captain Blood:
Captain Blood (1924 film)
Captain Blood (1935 film with the incomparable Errol Flynn)
The Fortunes of Captain Blood (1950 film)
Captain Pirate (1952 film)
Odyssey of Captain Blood (1991 film)
Captain Blood (2006 full cast audio production from The Colonial Radio Theatre on the Air, released by Blackstone Audio)

Isabel Roman is the pseudonym used by writing team Christine Koehler and Marisa Velez. Their Victorian Druids series has been featured on The Home Shopping Network and is available in bookstores everywhere. Currently they're working on a Prohibition-era series and wondering why time flies so quickly. Visit the Isabel Roman blog!


April said...

This sounds intersting.

librarypat said...

Errol Flynn certainly made a character stand out when he played it. I actually didn't realize these movies were based on books. As so often happens, the movie representation takes on a life of its own and overshadows the source.