The Final Round of the Silent Swashbuckler Tournament: Grit and Realism vs. Style and Flair

The final round is here and only two silent swashbucklers remain. The final four, Scaramouche, The Thief of Bagdad, The Mark of Zorro and The Sea Hawk, are all amazing cinematic accomplishments and beloved entertainment but two were knocked out of the running.

Our final two films are The Mark of Zorro (1920) starring Douglas Fairbanks and The Sea Hawk (1924) starring Milton Sills.

The films represent the two ends of the swashbuckler spectrum. The Mark of Zorro is a light, frothy affair set in old California and designed to showcase the glorious physical stunts of Douglas Fairbanks, as well as his charm as a comedian.

The Sea Hawk, on the other hand, gets its Elizabethan story going with a murder in an illegal duel, the subsequent abduction and enslavement of the hero and his eventual revenge as a newly-minted Barbary corsair. Questions of religion, vengeance and forgiveness are all considered and, of course, the ships are full-size.

I am tickled pink about this because I would be thrilled with either picture as a winner. You can read my review of The Mark of Zorro here and my review of The Sea Hawk here. In both cases, I also review their extremely famous talkie remakes as well.

But only one can be crowned champion and so I am asking you to vote one last time. Thanks so much for all of your support so far! This has been a lot of fun.

I’ll announce the winner next week!


  1. Maria

    Good grief! This was almost insanely difficult. I dithered for a good fifteen minutes, changing my mind multiple times, then changing it back again. Finally went with Zorro because it was one of my first silent movie loves when I was a kid watching Blackhawk movies on the old home movie projector, and has a lot of nostalgia value. But I won’t be disappointed if Sea Hawk wins, because it’s one of my more recent favorites. They are both so excellent that you should just declare a tie!

  2. R.D. Stock

    I too am very pleased with this result & agree that declaring a tie would be most appropriate because they are both superb examples of their type. A person will prefer one or the other, not on the grounds of intrinsic excellence, but by virtue of personal tastes. The fan who loves high-spirited, romantic action will probably warm to “The Mark of Zorro,” while the one who enjoys layered characters & the development of moral & spiritual issues, may favor “The Sea Hawk.”

    Obviously the same person can enjoy both types of films–such a one I count myself–& first rate films of both sorts can be made, as these examples prove. But forced to vote for one, my choice can be nothing more than mere indulgence of bias. The winning film will only show how many fans of which temperament chose to vote!

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