Well-made documentary of Errol Flynn's career, beginning with his decision to explore acting while a young lad in Australia, and the wild and sometimes adventurous events that dotted his gradual evolution as the premiere swashbuckler of the movies.
The doc balances plenty of interviews with vintage film clips (including the Australian 1933 production of "In the Wake of the Bounty," which deserves a domestic release of its own), and some of the bit parts Flynn endured before "Captain Blood" catapulted the athletic Tasmanian to stardom. More interesting, however, are the oblique career paths Flynn parlayed during his reign as a top box office draw: journalist during the Spanish Civil War (which resulted in accusations of Nazi sympathies, and treason); ocean explorer and novelist, and his efforts to be his own boss via the aborted production of "William Tell," in 1953.
In his 1996 autobiography, "Magic Hour," director Jack Cardiff wrote extensively on the money problems that shut down production on "William Tell," and the doc has Cardiff discussing the film, with archival location photos and actual footage from the incomplete movie. (For their Marilyn Monroe series, Fox attempted a reconstruction of Monroe 's last film by editing raw footage from the canceled project; even if there were no extant audio stems from "William Tell," it would be fascinating to see what could have been.)
The end of Flynn's career is covered via meatier interview segments from his then-wife, and clips from their 1957 TV series, "The Errol Flynn Theatre," which kept the actor busy during lean years. There's also a nod to his excellent (and admittedly autobiographical) performance as a withering drunk in "The Sun Also Rises," and as tragic boozer, John Barrymore, in "Too Much Too Soon." Missing from the doc, however, are mentions regarding the peculiar movies that Flynn made while slumming in Cuba - "The Big Boodle," and the docu-drama/cult films, "Cuban Story," and "Cuban Rebel Girls" (both from 1959, made before his death).
Flynn's life was filled with outrageous, exciting events, and an 87-minute doc can't possibly cover everything. (For example, Flynn's son, Sean, had a brief fling with acting during the Sixties before he became a serious photojournalist, and disappeared during the Viet Nam War, in 1970. An account of Sean's life may have given the doc a major downer of an ending, but it would have been nice to see stills of the young Flynn in his debut feature role in "Son of Captain Blood," in 1962. Sean Flynn's final years, however, were later dramatized in the 1992 A&E mini-series, "Frankie's House.")
This Warner Bros title is available as part of the “Errol Flynn Signature Collection” that includes “Captain Blood,” “The Sea Hawk,” “They Died With Their Boots On,” “The Private Lives Of Elizabeth And Essex,” and “Dodge City” and a bonus documentary disc “The Adventures Of Errol Flynn.”
© 2005 Mark R. Hasan