The Golden Age of Hollywood Movies, 1931-1943: Vol VI, Errol Flynn
Errol Flynn was literally born the star that he became. His entire life was one of a swashbuckling rogue who strode across life’s stage bigger than life and in the process reduced everyone else’s life to insignificance. As thrilling and exciting his swashbuckling movie roles were, his real life adventures frequently surpassed them. More
Errol Flynn was literally born the star that he became. His entire life was one of a swashbuckling rogue who strode across life’s stage bigger than life and in the process reduced everyone else’s life to insignificance. As thrilling and exciting his swashbuckling movie roles were, his real life adventures frequently surpassed them. His life was the things dreams were made of and he enjoyed every minute of it. Errol was born in the South Seas, a mysterious and romantic place for moviegoers at the time. During his youth, while his contemporaries were getting dull jobs in government or business and settling down to an equally dull family life, Errol was leading the life of a modern day pirate, roaming the high seas in search of booty and lust. At one time or another he was a jewel thief, a “black slaver,” a confidence man, a plantation manager, a soldier of fortune, and an explorer. He shot it out with headhunters, was on the run from the law, and once was tried for murder. He seduced almost any women he met, be they young or old, plain or beautiful, and if the opportunity offered, relieved them of their valuables. His youth was one of adventure and romance and from one day to the next he neither knew nor especially cared what tomorrow would bring. He lived for the moment and burned the candle at both ends, then burned it in the middle at the same time.
When Errol got to Hollywood he became an immediate success and zoomed right to the top, all in one stunning leap. He was everything men and women believed a real man should be: handsome, daring, bold, witty, and romantic. And his fans immediately saw that this was not just an act; Errol was the real deal, and they could not get enough of him. Errol was not a master at his craft like Humphrey Bogart, and in fact he admitted to his fellow actors on several occasions that he knew nothing about acting and wanted to keep it that way. But he had what many professional actors only dreamed about, an electrifying screen presence. Whereas his peers spent their entire careers attempting to steal scenes and prevent being upstaged by others, when Errol walked on a set all the other actors receded into insignificance and all attention was automatically riveted on him. His mere presence on the screen was enough to upstage all his fellow actors.
It was Errol Flynn against Warner Brothers every step of the way. Like no actor previous and no actor since, Errol waged a never-ending battle against his movie studio; in effect it was a duel between titans. On one side was Jack Warner, who had beaten down some of the most famous stars of that era (including Humphrey Bogart, Clark Gable, and Bette Davis) and on the other, Errol Flynn, who acknowledged no master.
Half way though the filming of a movie it was typical of Errol to refuse to continue unless he got a new contract and if he didn’t, he was prepared to walk away from it all at a moment’s notice. Errol would curse out his directors, particularly Michael Curtz, on the set in such foul language that his frequent co-star, Olivia de Havilland, would run to her dressing room in fright, with tears streaming from her eyes and covering her ears with her hands.
There will never be another actor like Errol Flynn. He strode across the movie screen like the colossus he was and between Captain Blood (1935) and They Died With Their Boots On (1941) he made the screen’s greatest adventure movies of all time, all of which have become classics. In both his personal life and movie career Errol burned the candle at both ends, because, like the boy-wonder Irving Thalberg, he knew that he would die young. However, unlike Thalberg, who took the greatest of care to preserve his short life, Errol lit his afterburner and lived a life most others could only fantasize about. So read on and live the dream remembered that was Errol Flynn, for there will never be another like him.
Available ebook formats: