Change of tone from the whole “WW1 Mystery Letter” question – to which I’m sure we will be returning anon – to the simpler but still baffling question – even if you can’t get Basil Rathbone why do you replace him with Henry Daniell?
In case you don’t follow the purport of the question, check this vid out.
First you’ll see Flynn’s two epic encounters with RazzleDazzle (as someone called him in the comments today, and which I think is just perfect), in Captain Blood (1935) and The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938); and then you’ll see good ole’ Henry step in to take Baz’s place in The Sea Hawk (1940) (you can also watch the final two if you like,but they aren’t needed for the point and they will just show you a depressingly decaying Flynn speeding towards his early death).
So, did you watch the Sea Hawk fight?
Painful isn’t it.
Ok, there are big shadows and ok, there is table-tossing, but you just know Errol could win this one blindfold, in a bag. It’s like watching Robin Hood go up against an out of shape realtor.
All you’re thinking is…where the hell is Basil Rathbone?
And that’s a good question. The Sea Hawk was made just two years after The Adventures of Robin Hood and is obviously Robin Hood II. Produced by the same studio, with one of the same directors (Curtiz), same composer (Korngold) doing the (same?) score, and most of the cast from the Robin Hood rep company, including Una O’Connor, Claude Rains and Montagu Love. Yet two of the most essential principals have been replaced – Olivia de Havilland by the colorless Brenda Marshal and Rathbone by the wildly miscast Daniell.
According to the IMDB de Havilland was tired of doing costume epics and refused the offer of The Sea Hawk, which might be true.
But what about Rathbone? It seems inconceivable they planned this movie without intending to offer him the part of the fencing-bad-guy. I mean no one, even in Hollywood could have been that dumb, right?
So what happened? Was he offered and turned it down? Was he busy elsewhere? Does anyone know anything about that?
And with the whole of Hollywood to choose from are we to believe Warner Bros seriously couldn’t find anyone better to replace the Baz than Henry Daniell? They couldn’t find someone who could act and look plausible as an athletic swordsman? Who wouldn’t lumber about like a wounded hippo and be so inept he had to be doubled for almost the entire fight?
I wonder, is the fact they considered Daniell to be a good enough replacement, even though he was so obviously not Rathbone’s equal in looks, physicality, swordmanship or onscreen charisma, some sort of indication of how chronically Hollywood underestimated the Baz? Were they sort of selectively blind? Did Jack Warner et al look at those two actors – Daniell and Rathbone – and those three sword fights and not really see any difference?
Gosh if that was true it might start to explain a few things mightn’t it.