Flynn Collection a 'Must' for Fans...
Benjamin J Burgraff | Las Vegas | 03/26/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Errol Flynn was certainly the most colorful star of Hollywood's "Golden Age", with a devil-may-care swagger hiding the insecurities of an unhappy childhood, reckless lifestyle, and desperate desire to achieve respect as an actor, and not just a swashbuckler in tights. Flynn could be sweet and courteous, an arrogant bully, a roue and bon vivant, a restless adventurer, a loyal friend, or an unreliable "royal pain", depending on who you spoke to (and when). His sexual exploits were legendary, as were his capacities for alcohol and drugs (all of which were truly remarkable, considering the poor health he endured throughout his life, despite his robust on-screen appearance). Ultimately, whether you loved or hated his lifestyle, his film work, during nearly eighteen years under contract to Warner Brothers, includes some of the most extraordinary, entertaining classics ever made, and his charisma continues to enchant audiences!
Sadly, few of Flynn's films have appeared, thus far, on DVD (the best being a superb "Adventures of Robin Hood" DVD, released last year). This new collection, while a mixed bag, does finally give DVD audiences a chance to savor two signature Flynn performances, in "Captain Blood" (his breakthrough starring role) and "The Sea Hawk" (one of the greatest swashbucklers ever made). The rest of the collection lacks the luster of these films, but are certainly worthwhile; "The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex" teams Flynn with Bette Davis (who despised him, and fought to get Laurence Olivier for Essex), and, with "The Sea Hawk", shows Flynn playing opposite two very different interpretations of Queen Elizabeth; "They Died with Their Boots On", Raoul Walsh's fanciful biopic of George Armstrong Custer, offers a slam-bang, if inaccurate, version of the Little Big Horn, and the last teaming of Flynn and his favorite leading lady, Olivia de Havilland ("Captain Blood" was their first of eight films together); "Dodge City" represented a major gamble, as Warners had no idea if audiences would accept Tasmanian Flynn as a cowboy in the Old West (they did, and Flynn would make seven more westerns, over the next ten years...actually making more westerns than swashbucklers or war movies!). While I'd have preferred seeing "The Dawn Patrol", "The Adventures of Don Juan", and "The Charge of the Light Brigade", in this collection, the choice of films does show Flynn at his most gloriously handsome!
Best of all, TCM has produced "The Adventures of Errol Flynn", a long-overdue biography, which is included in the package. Along with interviews with his family and friends, including extensive interviews with de Havilland, wives Patrice Wymore and Nora Eddington (in archival footage), and daughter Deirdre, it offers 'behind-the-scenes' footage, private home movies, and material never before seen by the public (including footage from the never-completed "William Tell"), which makes this a 'must' for Flynn fans.
While it will probably be years before all of Errol Flynn's films reach DVD, this collection offers an excellent introduction to a true Hollywood "Original", and is well worth owning!"
In Like Flynn...Again
William R. Hancock | Travelers Rest, S.C. United States | 05/09/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Okay, here it is. Strait up. I adore Errol Flynn. Always have, always will. Can't remember which of his films I saw first on television years ago (though my little grey brain cells keep whispering "They Died With Their Boots On"), but whatever it was, it made me instantly a Flynn junkie and I have remained so ever since. It is hard to say which of the "Tasmanian Devil's" movies I like the best, though I'm inclined to believe it is a toss-up between "The Adventures of Robin Hood" and "The Charge of the Light Brigade" (this awesome film amazingly MISSING from this "signature" collection...and it's unfathomable absence the priciple reason I have rated this collection as only 4 stars instead of 5). How does one have an Errol Flynn "signature" collection with "Charge of the Light Brigade" so glaringly unincluded? Boggles the mind. One would hope Turner Classics would produce a "Volume II" to this, a follow-up that would feature "Light Brigade", "The Dawn Patrol", "Gentleman Jim","Adventures of Don Juan", and one of Joanne Woodward's favorites, "That Forsyte Woman" from MGM (or else "Uncertain Glory" or "Edge of Darkness").
It is good to see Flynn coming back "In" again (to play on the old "In like..." expression). He took a major hit some two decades ago with a most worthless book that became a bestseller ("The Secret Life of Errol Flynn" by Charles Higham )and smeared his name and reputation mean-spiritedly. This author, Higham, termed Flynn a traitor and Nazi spy and pedophile homosexual, supposedly using "credible" witness tesitimony and "classified documentation" to bolster his outrageous claims. He had Flynn doing all sorts of things to further the cause of the Reich and hooked him up with secret meetings all across Europe and in the Caribbean with his "Nazi intelligence controllers". Among his claims were that Errol used his influence to have secret aerial shots of Pearl Harbor filmed during the production of "Dive Bomber", which he funnelled to German Intelligence ("Abwehr"), and thence to the Japanese to help plan their attack.
He also had Flynn at a secret nazi confab in the Bahamas with the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and other British traitors. These were only two "for instances" of this kind of thing. Then he had Flynn "spy controlled" by Dr. Julius Erben, a low-level Abwehr agent....with documents (supposedly) to "prove" it.
In short order, all Higham's claims came crashing down in the face of REAL research by REAL researchers digging up REAL facts.
All the times Higham had Flynn meeting with "Nazis" in Europe, he could not have done so, as all the Warner Brothers' shooting logs still exist and Flynn's whereabouts can be tracked meticulously. Higham hadn't counted on that when he began his smear campaign. In fact, on the very day when Highman had Errol "conspiring" in the Bahamas with the Windsors, the actor was, in fact, standing on a log across a stream in Chico. California, facing Alan Hale with a quarterstaff while William Keighly directed the meeting of Robin Hood and Little John for "The Adventures of...". And, as for "Dive Bomber", the Japanese ALREADY HAD their Pearl Harbor mockups built (courtesy of Honolulu spies)and were preparing for the raid WHILE "DIVE BOMBER" WAS IN PRODUCTION....AT SAN DIEGO...NOT PEARL HARBOR!!!!
Situations like this...CONNIVANCES....turned up everywhere in the Higham book. And the "documentation" he offered turned out to be edited out of context, and, in some cases, the blacked out names didn't relate to Flynn at all...Higham just CLAIMED they did. But originals obtained under the Freedom of Information Act proved the distortions here as well. And Dr. Erben? Well he WAS a German agent, but he only knew Flynn briefly, and ,interviewed before his death, he affirmed that Errol had NEVER been a German agent, that he...Erben...had used Flynn's celebrity to gain him access to people, but that Flynn himself never realized he was being used in this manner. It should also be noted that the Abwehr, under Adm. Wilhelm Canaris, worked secretly more AGAINST Hitler's Nazis than FOR them. aided in the assassination plots AGAINST Hitler, and, by war's end, had been disbanded and taken over by the SS and its leaders executed. In fact there is strong reason to believe Abwehr may have been half-connected to the British Secret Intelligence Service, MI6. So even if Flynn might have UNKNOWINGLY been "associated" with this ANTI-Nazi German intelligence organization, that might not have been such a bad thing after all!
As to the homosexual pedophile stuff, none other than Flynn's old arch-enemy BETTE DAVIS stepped forward to declare that a "crock". Said that sounded like Orry-Kelly malarkey, Orry-Kelly being a Warner's costumer in "the day". According to Davis, Kelly delighted in spreading nasty, vicious, hurtful rumors about people who "crossed him"...and Errol did that from time to time.
To have "Queen Bette" the Flynn-hater come to his defense was astounding enough, but then the OTHER shoe dropped. JOAN CRAWFORD, Bette Davis' OWN arch enemy, came out BACKING BETTE!!! Crawford, who'd once called Flynn "The most beautiful man who ever lived", said the gay stories sounded EXACTLY like something that would come out of Orry-Kelly; that if you'd ever worked at Warners you'd have picked up on it immediately.
An amazing happening. Bette Davis defending Errol Flynn and Joan Crawford backing her up. Shades of the Apocalypse.
Though now totally discredited among those who KNOW, many uninformed people still are under the impression this hog swill was true.It all needs to be set right. The DVD "Adventures of Errol Flynn" in this collection attacks the old tale, Tony Thomas in "Errol Flynn, The Spy Who Never Was", demolishes it handily, as does Flynn's stunt double Buster Wiles in "Errol & Me". The Walt Disney movie "The Rocketeer" unhappily plays with the smear job, featuring Timothy Dalton made up as Flynn (though called "Neville Sinclair") and casts him as the dastardly villain Charles Higham worked so to make him appear(and the "why" of it has never been learned). I am a fan of the "Rocketeer" movie but this aspect of it has always distressed me.
But it looks like Errol's turn is coming around again. This "Signature Collection" puts him center stage again and he deserves the limelight. "Elizabeth & Essex" lets him act, and "The Adventures of..." outlines his life. But "Captain Blood", "The Sea Hawk", "They Died With Their Boots On" and "Dodge City" show perfectly what it was he did...and how he did it...that let him charm America and the world."
Bliggick | Vancouver | 03/22/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's great to see this set coming. Every movie is a winner and I hope it sells in high numbers. "The Charge Of The Light Brigade" where Flynn is in full hero mode and is the perfect bridge between "Captain Blood" and "The Adventures Of Robin Hood" and the moving "Dawn Patrol" have been passed over here and I can only hope that they are being held back for a Volume 2 Signature Collection. There are certainly enough good Flynn movies not yet on DVD to warrant a second collection: Gentleman Jim, Dive Bombers, Virginia City to name a few."
Australia's greatest film star
Phillip Sametz | South Melbourne,, Victoria, Australia | 07/28/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Call me biased, but this set is proof (if any were needed) that in terms of sheer screen presence (what Billy Wilder used to call "flesh impact") Errol Flynn can have Mel Gibson, Russell Crowe, Eric Bana et al for breakfast: he is Australia's greatest film star.
In this set, even in the Western setting of Dodge City, the charm and charisma that allowed him to buckle swash more convincingly than anyone else is well to the fore. You can also see - in three of these films - how much sincere affection there was between Flynn and Olivia de Havilland. Her comments about him in the fine documentary - The Adventures of Errol Flynn - confirm what you see in their pictures together!
The transfers are significatntly better than their VHS counterparts and the extras are - as so often with Warners - well thought out and entertainingly presented. Being a fan of the bandleader/composer Johnny Green, it was a particular treat to see the short subject in which he's featured, as an extra on the Captain Blood disc.