This movie has to be seen to be believed. It's an absolutely fabulous film. Director Michael Curtiz is, in my opinion, one of the great storytellers of all time. (After all, he directed "Casablanca" only two years after "The Sea Hawk.") This is a film unencumbered by flashback sequences and neurotic characters. At the same time, the characters are rich and complicated, all of them caught in an escalating war between England and Spain. These were symbolic when the film was made for the Allies and the Nazis, and you can almost feel the actors' intensity over their uncertainty of the future, and Erich Korngold's music is probably his masterpiece in conveying not only chivalry and heroism, but an extraordinary longing for freedom and release from political aggression.
Like the other reviewers have noted, Errol Flynn is at his best. The cast is generally superb, although I would have cast something closer to a real Spaniard for Don Alvarez instead of - again! - Claude Rains. As a Spaniard, he should at least have tempered his British accent. Flora Robson as Queen Elizabeth I is simply the best Elizabeth I have ever seen on film. (Sorry Bette Davis and Judi Dench.)
This film is not only thrilling, dashing, and heartwarming, it is really "about" something. And since September of 2001, this film has suddenly taken on yet a new meaning for our own time.
I am holding my breath for a DVD of this soon?? And please, be careful with the sound transfer. The music for this film is one of the finest film scores ever composed.