For a lad who grew up on the waterfront aboard a boat, and then lived aboard a sailboat as an adult for nearly 15 years, the Hornblower novels of C.S. Forester were something very special.
While a staple of my youth, I've re-read the series at least once every decade as an adult.
Contemporary audiences are likely to know the character from the well made ITV/A&E series of 8 movies starring Ioan Gruffudd. While production of these movies has ceased, there is talk of resurrecting Hornblower for a theatrical film.
Aside from the 11 books (which I recommend heartily), there were a number of earlier productions, some of which are (fortunately for us) in the public domain.
In 1951 Gregory Peck and Virgina Mayo would bring one of Horatio Hornblower's adventures to the silver screen. While that production isn't in the public domain, the Lux Radio version staring Peck and Mayo is.
Gregory Peck as Captain Horatio Hornblower
from the 1951 film Captain Horatio Hornblower
Nearly every week, for more than 20 years, the Lux Radio Show brought big-time Hollywood stars to the radio to recreate their most recent movie roles. Lux was a detergent, and soap, and the sponsor had deep enough pockets to pay these stars up to $5000 for their appearance.
Radio was such a major media, particularly during the 1930's and 1940's, that movie studios felt obliged to tie their movies into the media at every opportunity. At one time or another, nearly every big Hollywood star either had a regularly appearing show on the radio, or was a frequent guest.
Here then is the Lux radio version of Captain Horatio Hornblower, with Gregory Peck and Virigina Mayo.
Lux_52-01-21_Captain_Horatio_Hornblower.mp3 14 MB
In the same year Radio Luxembourg was to broadcast a 52-episode series of Hornblower adventures for the radio.
Produced by Harry Towers (Towers of London Syndicate), and starring Michael Redgrave, this show would end up rebroadcasted on American radio by ABC in 1954, and Mutual in 1957.
Radio Luxembourg, although broadcasting from the Grand Dutchy of Luxembourg, had perhaps the most powerful transmitter in all of Europe (1200 kW), and was widely heard in England, France, and Germany.
Map showing location of Radio Luxembourg (red circle)
from the Wikipedia.
The audio quality of some of these episodes is, regrettably, not the best. The music, at times, overwhelms the dialog, as do some of the sound effects.
Still, if you can accept something less than `stereophonic' sound, these are rousing good episodes.
Horatio Deals with a Mad King 6.6 MB
Horatio Captures the Natividad 7.1 MB
Shakey Alliance with El Supremo 5.2 MB
Battle Against El Supremo 5.3 MB
Lydia Sinks the Natividad 5.2 MB
Damaged Lydia Heads for Panama 5.2 MB
Return to the Fleet 6.6 MB
Return to the Sea 7.0 MB
Protecting the Convoy 5.2 MB
Disguised As a French Ship 5.2 MB
Guerilla Action 5.3 MB
Mutiny on the Flame 5.4 MB
Disguised As the Flame 5.2 MB
Capture of Le Harve, the 5.4 MB
Napoleon Is Defeated 4.7 MB
Prisoner in 1811, a 5.1 MB
Horatio Meets Marie and Escapes 5.1 MB
Horatio Captures a Ship 5.1 MB
Rejoining the Fleet 4.6 MB
Horatio Is Court Martialed 4.5 MB
Into the Baltic 6.7 MB
Chasing the Blanche Fluer 6.7 MB
Alliance with Russia 5.1 MB
Reception with the Czar 5.0 MB
Attack on Fort At Fisher's Half 5.1 MB
Port of Riga 5.1 MB
Delaying the French 4.9 MB
French Are Stopped, the 4.6 MB
Duel, the 5.1 MB
Spanish Leave Napoleon, the 5.0 MB
Hornblower's First Command 4.8 MB
Prisoner of the French on the 'Peek' 4.8 MB
With the 43rd Marines 5.1 MB
Spain Becomes Neutral 5.1 MB
Exam for Lieutenant 7.1 MB
Quartined for the Plague 5.1 MB
Chasing the Papillion 5.1 MB
Command of the La Mouch 5.0 MB
Prisoner and Rescue of Spanish 5.2 MB
First Meeting with Bush 4.9 MB
Planning Mutiny on the Renoun 5.0 MB
First Attact on Haiti Fails 5.0 MB
Attact on Haiti Fort 5.1 MB
Yellow Fever 5.1 MB
Fighting the Spanish on the Renoun 5.0 MB
Promoted to Captain of the Retribution 7.3 MB
In 1968, another radio series (this time with better sound) staring Nigel Anthony, gave us 20 episodes of Hornblower adventures. I've been unable to find out much about this series, and am even unsure if they are truly public domain.
In fact, I've just discovered this series, and haven't had time to listen to more than a few minutes worth.
They are, however, available on a website called Entering The Mind's Eye.
The Hornblower Story
If you are a Hornblower fanatic, as I am, you'll have dozens of hours of entertainment here.
Something to tide you over until the Hornblower feature film comes out.