Screwball comedy is not what we associate Errol Flynn with and although this film is by no means one of the genre’s classics it does show us that Flynn could play light comedy. The script is tailor made for Errol and utilizes some of his off screen antics which by the time this film was released were well known throughout the movie going world. He stars here as a divorced father who happens to be an artist specializing in painting pin up girls. The fact that he has live models posing for him never sat well with ex-wife Eleanor Parker. To one model he delivers a very Flynn like line, “You’ve inspired me so much I’m a little fatigued.” He and Parker have a daughter that they share custody with and she would like nothing better than to have her parents reconcile. Funny thing is both Flynn and Parker would like nothing better as well.
As with most films from the romantic screwball genre there are plenty of foul ups in getting the stars back together and hopefully living happily ever after. This time out we have Errol’s want to be girlfriend complicating matters as does he-man Marine Forrest Tucker who has his eye on Parker. She decides to use poor Forrest in hopes of teaching Flynn a lesson for his womanizing ways. There are some genuinely funny moments here including Errol running around in a Santa suit and really putting some digs into his ex-mother-in-law who he blames for the collapse of his marriage to Parker in the first place. Along for the ride and helping Flynn where he can is S.Z. Cuddles Sakall in a typical role as the restaurant owner that Flynn frequents. Hattie McDaniel turns up in her customary role as Flynn’s house maid and Arthur Shields checks in as a police officer. If Shields sounds like Barry Fitzgerald, he should as Barry and Arthur are real life brothers.
This was another of Errol’s contract pictures for Warners and he and Parker make a nice screen couple. What’s kind of fun is that they both had very distinctive, attractive voices and Errol even sings a few bars in this one on the dance floor. He also refers to himself as Robin Hood occasionally for the in-joke crowd. Overall the film’s first half plays better than the latter as I found it strayed due to a script that wasn’t sure how to wind things up. We really get a cross between a Rock/Doris romance film mixed with an Elvis style girl trouble movie. The films director James V. Kern was just starting out here and would eventually find a home in series television on shows like My Three Sons. The actual highlight of the film just might be Flynn playing tough to scare off Forrest Tucker. You’ll notice Flynn’s voice has been dubbed in this segment by the toughest guy on Warner’s lot during the era this film was made. Bogie himself. Not great but a nice change of pace that shows Flynn had a wider range than he is known for and it’s always a pleasure to see and hear Miss Parker.
I’ve never seen this one Mike. I agree that Flynn certainly isn’t someone I’d automatically associate with comedy films. Having said that, he did have a talent for pulling off the lighter moments within his more serious movies.
I think one of the great things about the studio system at that time was the fact actors were handed such a variety of roles – of course some experiments worked out better than others. And then there was the pool of talent available due to the performers being under contract.
Flynn for sure had a light touch even in the more serious films. Always seemed to be sticking his tongue out when he had the chance. Character actors under contract to the studios could really make or break a film at times for sure.
Along with this abundance of charm he also always comes across as someone not taking the movie/fame thing so deadly seriously, which translated well to a light touch in all kinds of films. Seen this one and it really is fluffy but you’re right, nice to see from him.
Flynn usually gives the impression of never taking things too seriously. As I suspect he was in real life as well.