Errol Flynn – The Swashbuckling Casanova

“It isn’t what they say about you, it’s what they whisper.”

Errol Flynn

Errol Flynn had an memorable presence both on and off the screen that induced a great deal to be both said and whispered about him. He conveyed a dashing and cavalier attitude toward life, seemingly unable to remain serious for any great length of time.

Flynn, who was so successful in the action/adventure roles for which he is most associated with, felt trapped by the stereotype his characters created in the early part of his career. His options were few as a Warner Brothers contract player, and as long as the studio made money with Flynn playing these roles, these would be the roles in which he would be cast.

As a young man Errol Flynn developed a contempt for the restrained and conservative life of his father, a distinguished marine biologist, and his mother. This contempt led to Flynn running away from his home in Tasmania, surviving through an assortment of odd jobs and petty crime.

Moving to New Guinea he worked as a plantation manager, a hunter, a gold miner, and as captain of a coastal sailing ship. He was also tried for murder after having killed a native who was part of a raiding party that attacked a jungle camp where he worked.

Settling down to start a tobacco plantation, Flynn received a telegraph from a small-time film maker he had met during his travels. He was offered a chance to appear in a film titled “In the Wake of the Bounty.” The film preceded “Mutiny on the Bounty” by two years and provided Errol Flynn with his movie debut. For more details, please visit these sites:-

With little money, Flynn financed a trip to England from Australia by smuggling a few diamonds to cover expenses and found work as an actor with the Northampton Repertory Company.

It was here that Flynn was first seen by a scout for Warner Brothers. He received his first Hollywood part, appearing as a corpse, in “The Case of the Curious Bride.” It wasn’t long after that when Warner Brothers decided to take a chance on two virtually unknowns to star in “Captain Blood.” The unknowns were Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland.

The pair were wildly successful together in this film and again in 1937’s classic “The Adventures of Robin Hood.” During the filming of “Captain Blood,” co-star Olivia de Havilland developed a crush on her leading man. Flynn, at the time, was married to French actress Lili Damita. A union best described as more of a lengthy conflict than a marriage, as Flynn was beginning to put a great deal more time and effort into his off-screen escapades.

These escapades were the start of the great Flynn romantic legend which peaked with his trial for statutory rape. The trial, along with Flynn’s reputation as a lothario, coin the phrase “In like Flynn” which meant “assured of success” when referencing his hypnotic effect on women.

Errol Flynn’s favorite film role was as boxer “Gentleman” Jim Corbett in 1942’s “Gentleman Jim.” Shortly after this film Flynn’s popularity began to fade and his lifestyle of partying and lavish spending habits were causing both health and financial problems. He attempted to produce his own films, but was unsuccessful, and with a continuing decline in his health, suffered a mild heart attack.

Retired, drifting, and seemingly washed-up, the late 1950’s would bring Flynn a rebirth as a character actor of significant skill. This skill was demonstrated with his work in 1957’s “The Sun Also Rises,” and 1958’s “The Roots of Heaven.”

The youthful rebellious Errol Flynn, whose roles were an extension of his own life, had now begun to play his mature self – an aging, somewhat alcoholic, character whose dauntless gallantry was now tempered with the feeling of a man who has now become acutely aware of his own mortality.


Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *