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They Died With Their Boots On (1941) Errol Flynn Day 5

died with boots on

I decided to save this film to the end of my Errol Flynn salute because there is a scene in this film that I must admit makes it hard for me to swallow. The scene in question comes near the end when Flynn plays his final moments on screen with longtime leading lady Olivia de Havilland. If you are like me and love the films this screen couple gave us then you’ll agree with me there’s  much more to read into the playing of this farewell scene than just the written words from pages of a script. “Walking thru life with you Mam has been a very gracious thing.”

errol and olivia

For Flynn’s final pairing with Olivia de Havilland on screen another teaming was about to begin. This was to be the first of at least seven films Flynn starred in that would be credited to maverick director Raoul Walsh. Flynn stars here as General George Custer covering his story from his entry at West Point to his inevitable demise at The Little Big Horn. The role suits Errol perfectly. It gives him a chance to play the handsome, dashing hero of history. The tone of the film is comedic through the first half as well as putting on display the Flynn smile and cocky bravado to good effect all the while romancing lovely Olivia. Once the warfare starts between the North and the South the film slowly turns to a serious nature and by the time we get to the Indian wars we’ve gone dramatic as we head towards the fadeout. There is a stunning scene worth mentioning here where the cadets at West Point divide themselves according to sympathies North or South. I have no idea if it’s fact or fiction but it makes for great cinema.

Hal Wallis produced this final Errol/Olivia pairing and surrounded them with a cast including Arthur Kennedy as Flynn’s on screen nemesis and young Anthony Quinn as Chief Crazy Horse. Gene Lockhart, Sydney Greenstreet and Hattie McDaniel turn up as does a blink and you’ll miss him Gig Young. The music from Max Steiner is authentic and plays nicely throughout the films 140 minute running time that passes by rather quickly. Walsh who was always an action director does a solid job of bringing Bull Run to the screen and the final clash at Big Horn but once again it’s the scenes shared by Flynn and Olivia that bring me the most joy while watching. Of the eight films they made together Robin Hood stands tall above the rest but no matter which film you catch, they were a magical team to be enjoyed repeatedly over multiple viewings.

Hopefully this 5 day Errol Flynn salute got you thinking of either watching or re-watching some of his classics. So many to enjoy. Thanks for tuning in.

flynn 7th cavalry

3 Comments »

  1. Yes Mike, that farewell scene is touching and affecting. Flynn and De Havilland play it so well, with such real feeling in there that it does become quite powerful.- it always gets me too. Overall, I think it’s one of Flynn’s very best films.

    Really enjoyed this little run of Flynn pieces Mike – well done.

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