WolfmanOz at the Movies #30

My Wicked, Wicked Ways

Born on June 20th, 1909 in Battery Point, Tasmania, Errol Leslie Thomson Flynn became one of cinema’s greatest movie stars who achieved everlasting fame during the Golden Age of Hollywood with numerous roles in swashbuckling adventure films that still endure today as the benchmarks for the genre.

Never one for taking himself too seriously he also enjoyed a reputation for womanising and a hedonistic personal life that, to be honest, would be the envy of any red-blooded male !

In 1933 he managed to snare the role of Fletcher Christian in the film In The Wake Of The Bounty which quickly got the attention of Hollywood where he featured in a couple of minor roles but his big break came in 1935 with the release of Captain Blood. Originally to star Robert Donat, who turned the role down due to ill-health, so Warner Bros cast Flynn, after a number of highly impressive screen tests. The film was a huge success and launched the careers of two stars – Flynn and his frequent co-star Olivia de Havilland.

A few films passed until in 1938 when Flynn starred in most famous, and beloved role, as Robin Hood in the magnificent The Adventures Of Robin Hood.

84 years later this is still the gold-standard benchmark for adventure films where Flynn’s bravado and charisma shines throughout.

He was ably assisted by a terrific supporting cast with Olivia de Havilland as Maid Marion, Claude Rains as Prince John and Basil Rathbone as the villainous Sir Guy of Gisbourne. The climatic sword fight between Robin and Sir Guy has never been bettered.

Many years later de Havilland recounted in an interview: “And so we had one kissing scene, which I looked forward to with great delight. I remember I blew every take, at least six in a row, maybe seven, maybe eight, and we had to kiss all over again. And Errol Flynn got really rather uncomfortable, and he had, if I may say so, a little trouble with his tights.”

Flynn’s movie career was at its apex with such films as The Dawn Patrol, Dodge City, The Private Lives Of Elizabeth And Essex, The Sea Hawk and Gentleman Jim.

He had another monster hit portraying General George Armstrong Custer in the highly fictionalised They Died With Their Boots On which still entertains today but not as a recounting of history.

Then in 1942, Flynn was accused of statutory rape by two 17-year-old girls and although he was eventually acquitted, the trial’s widespread and lurid details permanently damaged his screen image as a romantic idealised leading star.

He attempted to enlist but failed the physical exam and was pilloried by the press as a “draft dodger” which was not helped by his studio refusing to admit that Flynn, promoted for his romanticism and athleticism, had been rejected due to health issues.

His great swashbuckling adventure roles were now behind him but he arguably gave his best acting performance in 1949’s That Forsyte Woman as the cold-hearted Soames Forsyte. Although the film is rather dull, Flynn was terrific in a role that was the antithesis of what he usually did and showed there was a real acting talent behind the facade of his public persona.

In 1959, he died of myocardial infarction as due to coronary thrombosis and coronary atherosclerosis and portal cirrhosis of the liver – in other words he drank and screwed himself to death ! He was aged just 50.

He was buried with six bottles of his favourite whiskey.

A posthumous autobiography was released My Wicked, Wicked Ways in which Flynn detailed with honesty a self-portrait of his lurid escapades and life.

There hasn’t been a movie star quite like Errol Flynn and I doubt we will ever see one ever again to rival him.

Enjoy.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtcwqoxIWa4cGW9hCESaUMg

WW Movie Clips

23 thoughts on “WolfmanOz at the Movies #30”

  1. There was a bloke in Hobart some time ago doing tours around town showing people the numerous houses where Errol lived. He really got around.


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  2. Old Ozzie, thanks for that interesting origin link for the term ‘in like Flynn’. It seems that just like the elusive and multi-factorial Robin Hood himself, no one man can lay title to the ‘Flynn’ meme. But our Errol certainly gave it a push and the honours mostly seem to attach to him.

    His Robin Hood, in Woolfman’s clip, is certainly in the ‘woodsman bringing home the dinner’ image of a mighty and romanic hero. Woof woof. An ongoing part of a wonderful cultural heritage, one to set many a female heart aflutter and men to wish in their secret dreams, like Bear above (with a touch of irony), to be just like him.


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  3. Many years later de Havilland recounted in an interview: “And so we had one kissing scene, which I looked forward to with great delight. I remember I blew every take, at least six in a row, maybe seven, maybe eight, and we had to kiss all over again. And Errol Flynn got really rather uncomfortable, and he had, if I may say so, a little trouble with his tights.”

    lol. Ms de Havilland going a little beyond being the ‘mealy-mouthed Melanie’. Restricting garments have always given women a clue or two as to what is going on in the mind of a man they may fancy.
    It is an ‘advance to Go’ signal for a lady to intensify her attentions were she so minded to do so.


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  4. Then in 1942, Flynn was accused of statutory rape by two 17-year-old girls

    From what I understand of Errol’s preferences, 17 year old girls would have been in the more senior category.


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  5. I watched the Robin Hood television series as a kid but still haven’t seen the Flynn movie. After watching those clips Wolfie, it’s on my watch list.


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  6. My Wicked, Wicked Ways in which Flynn detailed with honesty

    A good read, but best taken with quite a few grains of salt. The story about rigging cockfights in PNG, for example.


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  7. jupes says:
    July 21, 2022 at 1:05 pm
    I watched the Robin Hood television series as a kid but still haven’t seen the Flynn movie. After watching those clips Wolfie, it’s on my watch list.

    Outstanding – it’s a timeless classic and in my top 100 favourite films of all time !


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  8. He started a great tradition which was upheld by NIDA. When you look from 1980 to 2010 there’re so many Aussie and Kiwi actors in Hollywood movies. Often in similar style as Errol – thinking of Mel Gibson, Chris Hemsworth and Russell Crowe.

    Now of course the movie business is in a low patch, and Flynnishness is not the fashion. Which I suspect has cost investors billions, given the box office of unwoke efforts like Top Gun: Maverick.


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  9. I wonder how much Korngolds music helped with the popularity of Flynn’s movies.

    That swash and defiance as Robin enters enhances the scenes.


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  10. jupes says:
    July 21, 2022 at 1:06 pm

    Why would you say that Old Bloke?

    In his pre-Hollywood days he was working as an Island Trader, sailing around the islands to our north-east. He acquired a “bride” aged 13 years or thereabouts. He’s reported for making comments along the line of “the younger the better” or suchlike, in those days when such behaviour was considered more rakish than criminal.


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  11. Old Bloke, is that oral history, so to speak, or can you provide any source or reference that can be investigated to confirm it.

    Its understood that he was a “wicked” man, he wore it as a badge of honour, he was a rake and a rebel, and men admired him for it, and women seemed to fall for it too. But being a “rakist” is not the same as being a rapist. (Is that word permissible on the internet these days?)

    The statutory rape changes against Flynn were made by 17 year old girls when Flynn was around 33. A bit iffy or tacky perhaps, but within the bounds of acceptable behaviour.

    Flynn’s Wikipedia entry includes three possible references to relationships with a 15 year old girl and “underage” girls. All of these surfaced long after his death, and in every case there are very good reasons to doubt the truth of the allegations and the reliability of the accusers.

    While I do not question your sincerity, I am a a sceptic about everything, and that especially applies to the implications of your remark. Even more so given the hysteria these days surrounding the “me too” movement and the “paddyfilia” (you know what I mean) accusations that are so carelessly thrown at men. I note the awful damage that such innuendo can cause to living men without any chance of a fair hearing or any evidence being led. And yet this still applies to a great extent when a man is dead and cannot defend himself.

    I also note that he was 18 years old when he started sojourns up to PNG, and 24 when he finally moved off. Very different moral and cultural norms were in place those days, and he should not be judged by the postmodern assumptions which have more recently been forced upon us.


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  12. Old Bloke, you do note that in those days such behaviour was considered more rakish than criminal. I emphasise that I am not questioning your sincerity or probity.


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  13. Jannie – your blog @ 1.01pm – is there a male me too site. I would like to see how many men turned their back on the Entertainment rather committing a homosexual act.


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  14. Louis, I have had a look using eTools, and there are a few articles about “male survivors”, but I could not find a site specifically for men to seek support after male rape. There probably is somewhere, but it would take a lot more research to find it. I guess men and boys are expected to fight their way out of it and take it like a man and not complain.

    Interestingly most of the combined search engines results for “me too movement for men” are sites where men are expected to “believe all women” and debase themselves for being congenital rapists requiring correction.


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