A film about the fading years of Errol Flynn proved to much of a temptation so I caught up recently with the bio-pic starring Kevin Kline as the notorious lady killer and swashbuckler of the screen.
I must confess to finding a film like this fun from a historical point when characters like John Ireland or names like John Huston are thrown about which feeds into my passion for the history of Hollywood. I know the Flynn story well so on one hand I want to see the hell raiser but not necessarily the shell of the athletic swashbuckler he wound up being at the still young age of 50 upon his death.
Considering Kevin Kline is actually in his mid sixties he does an admirable job playing Flynn though it must be acknowledged that Flynn looked a good 65 years old by the time of his death due to years of bodily abuse. Still, Kline does his best to bring a smile to my face as he enacts some of Errol’s pranks and tells the famous tale of John Barrymore’s corpse being moved into his house late one night to give him the fright of his life.
There’s no point in my going into the right or wrong of Errol’s love affair with the under aged Beverly Aadland nor her rather blindly ambitious Mother. Aadland is played by Dakota Fanning and her Mom played by Susan Sarandon. When it comes to Flynn in real life I suspect I would not have approved of many of his choices in life but when it comes to his legacy on film, there are few of his movies I don’t heartily enjoy.
As this film is a period piece it’s done with all the gloss one might expect. There are the antique cars, clothing and music befitting the period. Still it does come off as phony far too often which is probably one of the reasons the film didn’t warrant any major release. I don’t recall a theatrical showing in my stretch of Canada so I wasn’t surprised to see it turn up like so many other titles on the shelf at Walmart.
For the Flynn fan, there is a brief bit of his own footage from his personal films that he made while sailing his beloved Zaca and some reenactment shots of his ill fated movie in which he costarred with Aadland in, Cuban Rebel Girls.
For the trivia connection it should be noted that Kevin Kline has now played arguably the two greatest swashbucklers of cinema on screen in biography films. Errol Flynn now and way back in 1992 he starred as Douglas Fairbanks Sr. the great silent star in Richard Attenborough’s Chaplin opposite Robert Downey Jr. in the title role.
While I appreciate the effort in producing a film of this nature I do wish it was a better project overall. Had it been, it might have drawn an audience that would lead younger people to seek out and discover the films of Errol Flynn. After all there is no way no how that anyone is going to tell me there was ever a better Robin Hood to appear in film. Or cartoon either for all you fans of Bugs Bunny. “Welcome to Sherwood.”
Just click here for some of my previous thoughts on Errol and follow the links to some of his films that are well worth looking into.
I don’t recall a theatrical showing here in the States, either; in fact, your review is the first time I’ve even heard of it. And with a cast like that, how could it be missed? I recently bought a TCM set of Flynn’s war-related films (on sale for $12, down from $50), so I’ll be checking those out soon. And Kline does make for a good Flynn, I must say.
I suspect it played a few festivals looking to get bought and not much more. That Flynn set is a real good one. Enjoy. Kline fits the role nicely.