Sunday, April 4, 2010

Errol Flynn

I think most American adults know who Errol Flynn is, but I don't think most of us know he was Australian. Or maybe they do. I didn't, until a year or so ago.

I don't know much about the guy, besides the fact that he was from Tasmania and became a Hollywood actor. I think I remember hearing he was a bit wild. Maybe he was a womanizer? A party animal?

I think he was in a Robin Hood movie.

There's that saying...in like Flynn. I can't remember if it's an American or Australian saying.

Well, I guess I shall begin.

Baby Errol was born in Hobart, Tasmania on 20 June 1909. Tim and I got married on that date, ninety years later.

Daddy Flynn was a biologist at the University of Tasmania. Theodore Thomson Flynn had some celebrity of his own, at least enough to warrant some discussion in the Australian Dictionary of Biography. His wife, and Errol's mom, was a descendant of one of the Bounty mutineers. I guess that would make Errol a descendant as well. Lord Wiki disagrees with the Australian Dictionary of Biography. He says that evidence shows that Flynn is NOT a descendant of the Bounty mutineers.

Who is right here? Who is wrong?

Here's something interesting. Mommy and Daddy Flynn got married five months before Errol popped out of the oven. I'm guessing it was a bit of a shutgun wedding.

At some point, the family moved to Sydney. They lived at McLean Avenue in Chatswood. I'm going to look for it on Google Maps.

Now I'm looking a Street View. McLean looks like a fairly typical Australian street. One of the houses has a belly dancing school.

I just zoomed out to get a sense of where Chatswood is in the scheme of things. It's North Sydney, in between Parramatta and Manly.

Flynn went to the Sydney Church of England Grammar School. He was classmates with Prime Minister John Gorton. Although John Gorton wasn't Prime Minister yet. Wouldn't that be cute...a Prime Minister still in high school?

Flynn was a bit of a bad boy. He was expelled from the school, and Lord Wiki says he was also expelled from schools in Tasmania. There were allegations that he had sex with the school laundress. Wow.

In his early twenties, Flynn moved to New Guinea, and did tobacco farming. That venture was a failure. He tried copper mining, and this failed too.

In the 1930's, Flynn went off to England. And that's when his acting career began. He did theater stuff in England.

I think I'm going to use Lord Wiki for the film career stuff. Flynn's filmography on IMDb looks very overwhelming. I'll still use it as a source though. I guess I'll go back and forth.

Flynn's first movie was an Australian film called In the Wake of the Bounty.

IMDb weighs in on the descendant issue as well. They say that Flynn claimed to be a direct descendant of the character he plays in the movie (Fletcher Christian). But in reality, he was a descendant of another character in the movie, Edward Young.

This website has information about Young. They say he was popular with the women. Maybe that trait is one that's inherited.

YouTube has part of In the Wake of the Bounty. I'm going to keep it on in the background as I write.

In 1934, Flynn did a British movie called Murder at Monte Carlo. Lord Wiki says that one is now considered a lost film. That's sad. I've lost screenplays and novels. If I really tried hard, I might be able to find some on old floppy disks. I'm not sure I'd be able to read the files though. It's kind of sad when stuff like that happens.

It was during the filming of Murder at Monte Carlo that Flynn was discovered by American film scouts. Flynn migrated to the United States, and by 1942, he was a citizen.

In 1935, Flynn had a very small part in an American Perry Mason film called The Case of the Curious Bride. The IMDb trivia page says Flynn had less than two minutes screen time, and for part of it, he was a corpse.

Lord Wiki says that Flynn's first big movie was Captain Blood. This came out in 1935. My grandparents would have been in their late teens back then. I wonder if any of them went to see it.

The movie is classified as a swashbuckler film. I've heard that term before, but wasn't sure exactly what it meant. Lord Wiki says it's an adventurous romantic film, containing lots of sword fighting. The Pirates of the Caribbean, and The Princess Bride would be modern examples.

Captain Blood is a pirate thing. Before Captain Blood was a pirate, he was a doctor. He was convicted for treason because he helped a friend. I guess the king didn't like that friend.

The IMDb trivia page says that Flynn was a prankster. He scared his co-star, Olivia de Havilland by putting a dead snake in her underpants. Is de Havilland the one from Romeo and Juliet?

Nope. I'm wrong about that. She was in Gone with the Wind though. I was thinking that she was, but then I thought....no, that was Vivian Leigh. It turns out that de Havilland was in it too.

There's lots of other trivia here.

Flynn was very nervous in the beginning of the shoot. They had to refilm stuff once he gained confidence.

He and the director would work together many more times. Despite this, they never really liked each other.

Flynn had a romance going on with one of his co-stars, Ross Alexander.

Here are some scenes from Captain Blood. A sword fighting bit begins at 5:47.

In 1936, Flynn was in The Charge of the Light Brigade. It was a war movie. Lord Wiki says that for one of the battle scenes, dozen of horses were killed during filming. This forced the U.S Congress to do something to ensure the safety of animals in movies. That's good. Because of it's disturbing history, the film hasn't been re-released by Warner Bros.

IMDb says that over two-hundred horses were killed.

In 1937, Flynn was in The Prince and the Pauper. Was he the prince, pauper, or neither? I always thought that story involved children switching places.

Yeah. I'm right. Flynn didn't portray one of the switchers. He's the guy who helps the prince get back to the castle.

Here are some scenes from the movie. Flynn does some more sword fighting. This time he battles a whole crowd.

In 1938, Flynn was in The Adventures of Robin Hood. Olivia de Havilland co-starred with him again. The IMDb trivia page says that Flynn privately confessed that he found working on the movie to be boring. I guess the director, at one point, tried to make things more exciting. He instructed an actor, who was to sword fight with Flynn, to take the protective piece off his sword. Flynn was able to feel the difference during the fight, and wasn't too happy with the director.

The movie got an Academy Award nomination, but lost to You Can't Take it With You.

Here's a trailer for The Adventures of Robin Hood.

I'm still torn about whether I should only mention movies that Lord Wiki mentions, or go through all the movies on IMDb.

I'm thinking that what I'll do is mention any of the movies that have clips on YouTube. I like watching scenes from old movies. So, that will be fun.

I'm seeing for a few of these movies, YouTube doesn't have clips of the actual movie, but instead clips of radio performances of the same script. That's pretty interesting, but I'm going to skip those....only because of time restraints.

Flynn and de Havilland did another movie together in 1938. This was a romantic-comedy called Four's a Crowd. It also had that same director (Michael Curtiz)...the one that had allowed Flynn to be stabbed.

Flynn plays a editor of a newspaper.

Here's the beginning of the film. Is that women in the beginning, de Havilland? No, wait. I just watched the credits again. She's Rosalind Russell.

I'm not sure if Flynn is going to be in this. I'm fast-forwarding. Is that him at 2:47? I'm so bad at recognizing faces.

No...that's Patrick Knowles.

Here's Flynn! I found him. His scene begins at around 5:30.

Also in 1938, Flynn did a movie with Bette Davis called The Sisters. The IMDb trivia page says that originally the film titles were to read Errol Flynn in The Sisters. Bette Davis fought for equal billing, AND she pointed out their original wording had a sexual connotation. That's pretty funny.

Here's a trailer for the movie.

I'm not used to seeing Bette Davis looking young. When I think of her, I think of Watcher in the Woods, and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane.

I'm getting the hint that this movie was based on a book; well, the trailer keeps showing pages of a novel.

1938 was really a big year for Flynn. He was also in The Dawn Patrol, a movie about World War I.

Here's the trailer.

Lord Wiki says the movie had an all male cast. He also says that although the movie glorifies war in some ways, it also shows how a commander becomes emotionally scarred from to having to send men to their death. Yeah. I think that would be hard, but also hard to be the man who faces death.

In 1939, Flynn and de Havilland did Dodge City together. And once again, their director was Michael Curtiz. It looks like it's a western.

Here's some scenes from the movie.

I guess that's the black hat villian at 2:19. They're making the barber awfully nervous.

Don't worry. Errol Flynn is a good match for these bullies.


Also in 1939, Flynn teamed up with his two past leading ladies....Bette Davis, AND Olivia de Havilland. This was for a Queen Elizabeth movie called The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex.

The IMDb trivia page says the movie was based on a play called Elizabeth the Queen. Flynn had wanted it to change, so it would include mention of his character.

Davis and Flynn didn't like each other. Have I mentioned that before? I forgot. It kind of seems that Flynn had trouble getting along with many people. Anyway, there was a scene in which Queen Elizabeth was supposed to slap the Earl of Essex. Davis took the opportunity to hit Flynn for real.

Here's the trailer. I think the scene beginning at 2:08 is pretty funny.

The infamous slap is at around 2:42.

In 1940, Flynn did another Michael Curtiz film, but this one didn't have Olivia de Havilland. Humphrey Bogart was in it though. It was the western, Virgina City.

Here's the beginning of the movie. I think that's Flynn at 3:50.

Flynn did two other movies in 1940. One was The Sea Hawk, a pirate movie. And again, Flynn was directed by Curtiz. The IMDb trivia page says the film crew saved money by reusing some of the stuff from Elizabeth and Essex. That's cool; it's both economical and green.

Here's the trailer. Claude Rains is in the movie. Who is he again? I'm looking at his filmography. He's been in a ton of stuff. But I think I know him as the Phantom of the Opera.

The other Curtiz and Flynn 1940 movie featured Ronald Reagen. This was Santa Fe Trail.

The movie takes place in the days preceding the Civil War.

Here's the beginning of the movie. I'm guessing the horses in this film were treated with more care.

Both Flynn and Reagen can be seen beginning at 1:27.

In 1941, Flynn and Curtiz did Dive Bomber. Flynn plays a military surgeon who tries to find a way to combat altitude sickness. This is dangerous because it can cause pilots to black out.

Link
Here's the trailer. I'm guessing this movie was war propaganda in some ways. 1941 was the year America joined the war. I'm embarrassed to say I had to look that up. Hey, but at least I know which DECADE the war was in.

Also in 1941, Flynn did another civil war movie; They Died with Their Boots On. I think I've heard the title before.

Ah! This movie was NOT directed by Michael Curtiz. But it did feature Olivia de Havilland. The IMDb trivia page says this was the last film she and Flynn did together.

Here are some scenes.

You know what I've just wondered...whether or not Flynn still had an Australian accent by this point. I know some actors start using the alternate accent off-screen. Did that happen to Flynn, or did he speak Aussie when the camera wasn't rolling?

In 1942, Flynn teamed up with Ronald Reagen again in Desperate Journey. This movie was directed by Raoul Walsh, the same guy who directed They Died with Their Boots On.

Here are some scenes.

Walsh and Flynn also did Gentleman Jim in 1942. This was a boxing movie.

Yikes. The IMDb trivia page says that Flynn had a heart attack while filming. How old was he?

I just played with my calculator. He would have been about thirty-three. That's so young. I wonder if he had a bad heart. Oh, okay. I just read down further. He did have a bad heart, and it's what prevented him from fighting in World War I.

Here's the beginning of the movie. Flynn reminds me of someone. I've been thinking that for awhile, but I can't figure out who I'm thinking about. Maybe I'll figure it out eventually.

I got it! I saw it at 1:37. He looks like....crap, now I forgot the actor's name. He's from Eli Stone and Titanic.

Victor Garber! That's it. I'm going to google, and see if anyone else has noticed this.

No. I'm not easily finding anything about that.

In 1943, Walsh directed Flynn in Northern Pursuit. It's yet another war movie. Here's the trailer. It takes place in Canada, and involves an avalanche.

In 1944, Flynn and Walsh did a movie called Uncertain Glory. I like that title.

The movie takes place during World War II. Flynn plays a French criminal who was about to be executed. But a German raid interrupts, and saves his ass.

Here's the trailer.

The IMDb trivia page says that Flynn received criticism for doing all these war movies. I guess this came from the fact that he played heroes, but avoided fighting in real life. The thing is Flynn TRIED to enlist, but his health kept him out. He saw doing the films as his way of contributing. I think that's a valid position.

In 1945, Flynn and Walsh did Objective, Burma! It's about American men fighting Japanese men in Burma. Here's the trailer.

The IMDb trivia page says the movie had some major controversy. Why? Because in the real Burma thing, it was predominantly a British and Australian operation. Yet, the movie makes it look like it was an American thing. When I read stuff like that, it gives me some sympathy for those Australians who hate Americans. And I don't think this is the only and last time Americans have done something like that.

The next Flynn movie that YouTube has clips of is The Adventures of Don Juan. This came out in 1948, the year my mom was born. The IMDb trivia page says that Raoul Walsh had been scheduled to direct the film, but he and Flynn had a falling out. So, someone else took on the director role.

Here's the trailer for the movie. No, wait....actually, it's a clip. There's sword fighting, so I guess it would be swashbuckling thing.

In 1949, the year my dad was born, Flynn was in That Forsyte Woman. Janet Leigh was in it. This was eleven years before Psycho.

Here's some scenes from That Forsyte Woman. I'm not sure if they're going to show Flynn. Is that him at 1:29?

Yeah, I think it is. I think the character he plays in this is less of a hero than his previous characters.

The dance card bit makes me think of Meet Me in St. Louis.

Oh! Wow! Here we go. In 1950, Errol Flynn played an Australian character. This was in the western Montana.

Here's the trailer. Flynn doesn't really SOUND Australian...at least not yet. Oh now, I'm hearing it. It's kind of subtle....VERY subtle.

Also in 1950, Flynn did the Rudyard Kipling story, Kim. Here's some good trivia. The child who plays the title character is Dean Stockwell, the guy from Quantum Leap.

Here's a clip from the movie. I think that's Flynn at 3:15.

In 1952, Flynn was in Against All Flags. It was another pirate movie.

Maureen O'Hara played the female lead. The IMDb trivia page says Flynn was a pleasure to work with in the mornings. But then he'd drink, and by 4 pm, he was a disaster. It's sad what alcohol can do to some people.

Here's the beginning of the movie.

In 1953, Flynn was in The Master of Ballantrae. It's based on a novel by Robert Louis Stevenson. Here's the trailer. It's a brother against brother thing....but don't forget the romance!

From 1956-1957, Flynn hosted a British TV show called The Errol Flynn Theatre. Here's a clip from the show. I can hear a slight Australian accent.

In 1958, Flynn did a movie directed by John Huston. This was The Roots of Heaven. Orson Wells was in it. It's about people trying to save elephants; a bit of an animal rights film.

Here's the beginning of the movie. It shows how even fifty years ago, people were concerned about conservation issues. I don't think Flynn is in that clip. Let's try part 2 I'm not seeing Flynn yet, but I'm liking the scene around 6:30. It shows a bully inferring that the elephant savior is crazy. There are those in the world who stand up and defend the powerless. And then there are those that ridicule those who stand up to defend the powerless. It's nice that the world has roles for everybody.

Is that Flynn at 8:21? I think it is.

Flynn did his last movie in 1959. It was called Cuban Rebel Girls. And Flynn didn't just act in it. He wrote the screenplay. Flynn plays a guy who helps Castro overthrow the government. Castro gave Flynn permission to make the film in Cuba.

Here's the beginning of the movie.

Now I'm going to read Flynn's trivia page on IMDb.

His career ended in 1959 because he died in 1959.

He was quite a womanizer, even to the point of being accused of statutory rape.

If I'm counting right, he had six kids. And he had three wives. The third marriage began in 1950, and lasted until his death.

One his daughters did stunt work on Poltergeist II. I used to love that movie.

One of his sons did some film work, but then became a photojournalist during the Vietnam War. He disappeared.

The in like Flynn saying comes from the statutory rape case.

While Flynn was on trial, he started chatting with the woman who worked at the courtroom snack bar. She'd end up becoming his second wife.

Oh! Now I see why Americans might not know Flynn was Australian. Warner Bros. tried to pass him off as being from Ireland. That's pretty funny.

This is sad. Flynn had a yacht, and loved it. But he ran into financial difficulties, and had to sell it. It was around this time that he had a massive heart attack, and died.

His addiction wasn't only to alcohol. He also had a relationship with opium.

A biographer in the 1980's alleged that Flynn was a Nazi sympathizer. Later biographers say this wasn't true. IMDb says he was politically left, and he did support Fidel Castro. Well, I could tell that from his last movie.

I'm reading through more stuff here. Basically, Flynn had really horrible health. Some of it was stuff he was probably born with, and then other stuff came from lifestyle choices.

I'm back to reading Lord Wiki stuff now. Various actors have portrayed Flynn in movies. Here's Jude Law in The Aviator. Here's a scene. Law gives Flynn an Australian accent. I'm going to guess that Flynn had one then. The Aviator makers probably did their research.

The movie My Favorite Year was inspired by Flynn.

Well, THIS is timely. I just looked at Google News. An article just came out today saying that Queensland travelers think they have found the body of Earl Flynn's son. That's the one that disappeared during the Vietnam War.

Sean Flynn looks like his dad. He also looks a lot like my brother-in-law Fred.

It's believed that Flynn was beaten to death after digging his own grave. That's really sad. How can people be so cruel?

I'm going to see if there's any more interesting videos to watch.....

Here's Flynn on the game show What's My Line. Flynn's laugh is a bit strange. He seems nervous. Oh....I got it. He's disguising his voice.

Here's a clip from a documentary about Flynn. In this part, they're talking about Robin Hood. The movie cost 2 million to make, which was very expensive in those days. This website says that an average house cost around $4000 dollars in 1938. So for the cost of the film, they could have bought about five hundred houses. Yeah, so that is a lot.

Oh. There was a soap opera going on backstage. Flynn was pursuing de Havilland, even though he was already married to someone else. Like many men in that situation, he assured Havilland that he would be soon divorcing his wife. The marriage was close-to-over. Havilland told him they shouldn't see each other until that happened.

Then one day, Flynn brought his wife on the set. The marriage, to Havilland, didn't look like something that would soon end. Poor Havilland. She sought a unique form of revenge. They had a kissing scene, and she purposely made mistakes, so the kissing would have to be done several times. And as she delicately puts it, Errol Flynn got really rather uncomfortable, and he had , if I may say so, a little trouble with his tights. You know, sometimes I think it would be horribly embarrassing to be a man, cause sometimes you just can't hide stuff. Women have to worry about period accidents though, so I guess we're even.

Anyway, I think I'm done for now.

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