Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Errol Flynn

In the NY Times review of the four-movie DVD set of Errol Flynn westerns writer Dave Kehr discusses the problems Hwood had with turning swashbuckler Flynn (Robin Hood, etc.) into western Flynn.

"But on another level, as Flynn is said to have observed, his accent and manner were too Continental to fit smoothly into the imaginary space of the American frontier. The screenplays for his westerns — many written by Robert Buckner — continually come up with ingenious explanations for the hero’s curious courtliness and exotic speech patterns: in “Dodge City” he’s an Irish soldier of fortune who finds himself herding cows in Kansas; “Montana” (1950) just throws in the towel and identifies Flynn as an Australian sheep farmer (among the many professions Flynn practiced) who dreams of bringing these white, woolly creatures to western cattle country.

"But who could accept Flynn, with his pencil moustache and rakish smile, as a humble cowpoke in a 10-gallon hat? Warner Brothers got around this issue mainly through costuming, dressing Flynn in long frock coats that set him apart from the bandannas and bluejeans of the supporting players. With their slimmer profile, these costumes evoked the tailored three-piece suits of the 1930s far more than the mail-order dry goods of the 1880s. Wide-brimmed, flat-topped hats completed the ensemble, adding an ineffable touch of urbanity (and even a hint of zoot suit flair). This look established Flynn as a man apart, an aristocrat passing through the West without necessarily being a part of it."

for the rest go here:


Ed here:

No mention of Flynn would be complete without reference to Lee Server's masterful article "The Story of The Big Love," the 1961 Lancer paperback that detailed the last chapter of Flynn's life. (I read this in Gary Lovisi's Paperback Parade #32.)

"Not long before he died in 1959, that immortal swashbuckler Errol Flynn met his last and--one hopes--youngest mistress, 15-year old Beverly Aadland, a stunning blonnde real-life Lolita to Flynn's dissipated rouge of a Humbert Humbert."

Reporter and paperback crime writer Tedd Thomey worked with the girl's mother on the "Behind The Scenes Story." Said the mother: "There's one thing I want to make clear right off; my baby was a virgin the day she met Errol Flynn." Apparently not for much longer.

The book had a strange history. It became a cult classic of sorts. Esquiter included it in its Basic Library of Trash. William Styron (hyperbolically) had the idea of turning the book into monologues for a stage presentation. W.H. Auden used excerpts in an anthology. Robert Aldrich bought the film rights. And in 1991 it opened (briefly) as a Broadway play!

Of Mrs Aadland, Thomey said: "She was a fascinating woman, sad, funny, sweet, bad-tempered, foul-mouthed, sentimental."

As Lee Server remarks, "How many other Broadway plays could boast the credit `adapted from a paperback published by Lancer Books?'"

1 comment:

David Cranmer said...

My mother was a huge fan of Flynn and in turn I grew up watching Captain Blood, Robin Hood etc. I never was a huge fan of his westerns and other than Sante Fe Trail and They Died with Their Boots On I haven't seen the rest... I have watched Cuban Rebel Girls twice because it's fascinating to watch him (and Aadland) help Castro with his overthrow of the Batista in this awful film.