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Posts Tagged ‘Errol Flynn’

Thomas Cockerel as young Errol Flynn

“IN LIKE FLYNN”  My rating: C

106 minutes | MPAA rating: R

Before he became a Hollywood movie star, Australian-born Errol Flynn lived a life of adventure cruising through the Indonesian archipelago.

Drinking. Whoring. Brawling. Looking for gold in dangerous places.

Russell Mulcahy’s “In Like Flynn,” based on the actor’s memoir Beam Ends, attempts to capture the pre-movie star Flynn as he and a trio of buddies go sailing for wine, wenches and wealth.

It’s not as much fun as it sounds.

Things start out promisingly with an encounter with headhunters in New Guinea.  Young Flynn (Thomas Cockerel) and a Hollywood crew shooting location footage are forced to flee for their lives. Think the opening of “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

Once back in Australia, Flynn decides to return to New Guinea to search for gold. He steals a yacht, the Sirocco, and mans it with two drinking buddies — the gruff Rex (Callan Mulvey) and the babyfaced Duke (William Moseley) — and a suicidal old salt (Clive Standen, channelling Robert Shaw in “Jaws”) who provides most of the sailing knowhow.

Along the way they visit dockside dives and brothels and opium dens, run afoul of the Chinese mafia and the crooked mayor (David Wenham) of a sleazy stopover, brave sharks and seasickness and poisonous spiders and starvation and shipwrecks and get involved in an underground fight club. (more…)

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Kevin Kline, Dakota Fanning, and Susan Sarandon

Kevin Kline, Dakota Fanning, and Susan Sarandon

“THE LAST OF ROBIN HOOD” My rating: B- (Opens Sept. 5 at the Tivoli )

94 minutes | MPAA rating: R

Like it or loathe it, “The Last of Robin Hood” succeeds in taking a red-flag subject — pedophilia — and forcing us to reconsider our intense feelings about this taboo.

The writing/directing team of Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland get away with this by relating a largely true story involving one of Hollywood’s most charismatic leading men.

Here are the facts:  In the last two years of his life, legendary big-screen swashbuckler Errol Flynn kept as his mistress a girl — a self-described “dancer/singer/actress,” though any one of those labels is debatable — who was only 15 when their relationship began.

Beverly Aadland (Dakota Fanning) had been kicking around the periphery of Hollywood for years. Most recently she had faked her age to get work as a backup dancer in musicals. That’s where she was spotted by the always-on-the-prowl Flynn (Kevin Kline), who was working on a nearby soundstage.

A practiced bullshitter with a charming line of self-deprecation (told by a fan that he had seen one of Flynn’s movies five times, the actor responds: “How extraordinary — I could barely get through it once”), Flynn wooed and seduced Beverly.

But a strange thing happened. The old alcoholic womanizer fell in love. He called Beverly his “little sprite” and “wood nymph.” He dubbed her “Woodsy.”

Not even the late-arriving revelation of Woodsy’s tender years (she had been passing herself off as 18) could cool the ardor of a man who nearly two decades earlier had endured a humiliating trial for statuatory rape and remains a tantalizing target for any prosecutor looking to make a name.

Curiously, “The Last of Robin Hood” is less about Flynn and Beverly (a pretty but vacuous girl with a largely unformed personality) than it is about Flynn and Beverly’s mother, Florence Aadland (Susan Sarandon).

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Bette Davis, Errol Flynn

Bette Davis, Errol Flynn

“The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex” screens at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, May 31, 2014 in the Durwood Film Vault of the Kansas City Central Library, 14W. 10th St.  Admission is free. It’s part of the year-long film series Hollywood’s Greatest Year, featuring movies released in 1939.

 

The year 1939 was a very good one for actress Bette Davis.

She had four films released in that 12-month period, all of them now regarded as classics.  She was the high-society deb dying of a brain tumor in “Dark Victory,” the wife of a Mexican statesman in “Juarez,” a spinster who allows her illegitimate daughter to be raised by her cousin in “The Old Maid.”

Davis was nominated for a best actress Oscar for “Dark Victory,” but in my humble opinion she should have received that honor for her work that year as England’s “virgin queen” in “The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex.”

For here is Bette Davis at her most magnificent, playing a monarch torn between the hubris of ruling a nation and her almost girlish infatuation with a handsome man several years her junior. It’s a monumental, horrifying, and very human performance.

Whether this is an accurate depiction is beside the point. As history “The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex” leaves much to be desired. As a gaudy slice of colorful melodrama, it’s pretty great.

In particular, the film does a terrific job of re-creating the relationship between Elizabeth I (Davis) and Robert, Earl of Essex (Errol Flynn). Whether factual or not, the on-screen psychology of these two achieves a subtlety and sophistication that is remarkable.

Of course we expect that sort of creativity from Davis, one of the great actresses of her generation.

Flynn, on the other hand, was not what you’d call a “thinking” actor, being more accustomed to flourishing a saber and swinging from ropes than mining the finer points of human motivation.

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Olivia DeHavilland, Errol Flynn

Olivia DeHavilland, Errol Flynn

“Dodge City” screens at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, March 1, 2014 in the Durwood Film Vault of the Kansas City Central Library, 14W. 10th St.  Admission is free. It’s part of the year-long film sereies Hollywood’s Greatest Year, featuring movies released in 1939.

Depending upon how you choose to view it, “Dodge City” is either a quintessential Western or a shameless collection of cowboy cliches.

It’s got a cattle drive, a stampede, fetching dance hall girls (the main one is played by Ann Sheridan), a wicked gambler (Bruce Cabot) who runs the town like a private fiefdom, a temperance meeting, a running gun battle on a steam-driven train, and a world-class barroom brawl … all of it captured in glorious early Technicolor.

Most of all it features the cinematic three-way of director Michael Curtiz and stars Errol Flynn and Olivia DeHavilland.

Flynn and DeHavilland had been successfully paired in “Captain Blood” (1935), “The Charge of the Light Brigade” (’36), and “The Adventures of Robin Hood” (’38). They would go on to share the screen in a total of eight features, including “Dodge City” (’39) and “They Died with Their Boots On” (’41).

It was widely assumed that the actor and actress were an item.  But that was all publicity. DeHavilland was a fairly genteel sort, while the Australian Flynn was a notorious womanizer and drinker whose career barely survived a 1942 trial for statutory rape. His memoir was entitled My Wicked, Wicked Ways.

Still, DeHavilland was not immune to her co-star’s bad-boy charisma. “He was a charming and magnetic man,” she wrote years later, “but so tormented. I had a crush on him, and later I found he did for me.”

In the films they made together Flynn and DeHavilland invariably were directed by Curtiz, an Austrian immigrant who just a couple of years later would achieve screen immortality by giving us Bogie and Bergman in “Casablanca.”

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