I've recently finished reading three novels by Rafael Sabatini.
They happen to be the basis for three of my favorite films as well. That, of course, is why I read them.
Starting with Captain Blood – Colonel, darling – I moved on to The Sea-Hawk and Scaramouche – the same order in which the 1935, 1940, and 1952 films were respectively made but not in the order of publication.
Anyone who's read the novels and seen the films knows that the Errol Flynn iteration of The Sea Hawk has nothing to do with the book. Still, it's a great film with a great duel. Better – if memory serves – than the duel in Caption Blood though perhaps not as fine as the duel in Scaramouche with Stewart Granger. That duel – again, if memory serves – is argued by more than one, if not many, to be the finest in cinematic history.
From Turner Classic Movies:
The justly famous eight-minute climactic duel in the theatre between Granger and Mel Ferrer (as Noel, the Marquis de Maynes) required eight weeks of training in which both stars had to memorize eighty-seven individual sword passes and perform twenty-eight stunts.
Naturally, both Flynn films are all the more majestic thanks to one Erich Wolfang Korngold.
Not since I read Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain has reading been so laden with a sense of adventure. And while the Prydain books have depth that I could only glimpse as a youth, Sabatini's work has truth and wisdom. This, despite the fact that the protagonists in this unofficial trilogy appear on the outset to be men who are lived by life, simply making the most of the unfortunate hands they've been dealt, or as Flynn's Blood muses, "Desperate men, we go to seek a desperate fortune."
As epic as those words are, they don't match the words apparently spoken by Flynn's Flynn …
"I intend to live the first half of my life. I don't care about the rest." – Errol Flynn.--------------