“I do what I like:” Miscellaneous facts about Errol Flynn

I don’t have a clever title, just a bunch of facts about one of my favorite actors, Errol Flynn, who was born on this day in 1909. The Adventures of Robin Hood was one of the first classic films I ever saw on a big screen, and the impression he made on my 11-year-old mind is basically indelible.


Ida Lupino and Flynn co-starred in Escape Me Never, which flopped; their friendship was a success. She is quoted as saying, “I loved Errol Flynn, who was one of my dear, dear, dear friends…He was just marvelous. Fun and well, a very kind person, very sensitive.” She gave him addressed him as “The Baron,” while he called her “Little Scout.”* 

Two decent movies in which Flynn plays against type as uptight stuffed shirts are That Forsyte Woman (1949) with Greer Garson, and Cry Wolf with Barbara Stanwyck, which I like because it’s really Gothic and odd.

“Women won’t let me stay single, and I won’t let myself stay married.” Flynn was married three times. His first wife, Lili Damita, had been married to Michael Curtiz, whom Flynn disliked (per IMDB). He met his second wife at the courthouse where she worked in the snack bar…he was on trial. And according to his third wife Patrice Wymore, Flynn called her parents “to formally ask for my hand in marriage.” (Check out her gallery.)

Per IMDB, his autobiography, “My Wicked Wicked Ways,” was originally going to be called “In Like Me.” His daughter Rory’s web site is InLikeFlynn.com.

Flynn had a weak heart and had survived tuberculosis and malaria. He was classified 4-F and, despite repeated attempts to enlist in the military, couldn’t serve in World War II. Per IMDB, this was his only regret in life. He had his first heart attack in 1942.

He co-starred in eight films with Olivia de Havilland, but apparently they never hooked up in real life, which is a shame. They seem to have gotten along very well. She talks about him starting around the 3:10 mark of this clip:

I don’t think it’s any coincidence that de Havilland is in all three of my favorite Errol Flynn movies — Robin Hood, Captain Blood and Dodge City.

Flynn and de Havilland…something about Dodge City…these two are all you really need

PS: The five-minute Captain Blood…really: http://youtu.be/9BDiNhe_YNQ

* Edited per comment below. The source for the nickname info is Ida Lupino: A Biography by William Donati.

Who's the Boss? Ida Lupino

In my research for tonight’s TCM Party, Woman in Hiding (1950), I found an abundance of interesting information about the film’s star, Ida Lupino, that is way too long for a tweet and much better suited to a blog post. This is very far from comprehensive but I hope it will pique interest in this fascinating woman who was a pioneer in so many ways. I was aware that she was one of the few female directors and was the only one working in Hollywood in the late ’40s through the mid ’50s, but I didn’t know that she also wrote film and television scripts and directed television shows throughout the ’50s and ’60s, including episodes of The Fugitive, Bewitched, and Gilligan’s Island.

Ida Lupino is the woman hiding from Stephen MacNally

Lupino was born in Camberwell, London, England in 1918 (though the year is variously given as 1916 or 1914). Her mother was an actress; her father was a comedian from a famous theatrical family. Her uncle, Lupino Lane, was an acrobat. She wrote a play for school at the age of seven and trained for a year at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. She was in five films in England before moving to Hollywood in 1933, when she was hired to make two films at Columbia.

She often played tough but sympathetic women who had their share of hard luck. Her role in one of my favorite films noir Road House (1948) with Richard Widmark and Cornel Wilde seems to be a fairly typical one for her; she plays Lily, a worldly-wise singer caught between her boss Jefty and his childhood friend Pete. When Lily falls for Pete and turns down Jefty’s marriage proposal, Jefty frames Pete for embezzlement, he’s convicted, and they are trapped. It’s a really concise, enjoyable noir, with Widmark at his crazy-bad best. Lupino did her own singing, which included Johnny Mercer’s “One for My Baby (and One More for the Road).” Two other favorites of mine are High Sierra (1941) with Humphrey Bogart and Devotion (1946), about the Brontë family, in which Lupino plays Emily.

She was cast against type in Escape Me Never (1947) as an impoverished single mom being taken care of by Errol Flynn’s character. The picture flopped but Lupino and Flynn became good friends and stayed close. Her nickname for him was “The Baron” and he called her “Mad Idsy.” [tcm.com]

Lupino often referred to herself as “the poor man’s Bette Davis.” While under contract with Warner Brothers, she would pass on Davis’ seconds, often getting herself suspended. Bored during this down time, she developed a curiosity about filmmaking and began to linger on sets, learning the craft of directing.  [imdb.com]

She became a director accidentally, taking over Not Wanted (1949) for Elmer Clifton, who had a heart attack three days into filming, though she did not give herself director credit. She was already producing and had co-written the script about an unmarried pregnant girl who gives her baby up for adoption. Her films, whether she worked as director, writer, producer or all of the above, often dealt with subjects that weren’t openly discussed in US society at the time, such as pregnancy outside marriage, rape (Outrage (1950)), and bigamy (The Bigamist (1953)).  It seems to me that Lupino was the unintentional model for today’s writer/director/producer/actors who at times take jobs in front of the camera to secure funding so they can be behind it for their next projects. Sean Penn and Sarah Polley are two I thought of. The production company Lupino formed with her husband Collier Young, The Filmakers [sic], made a total of 12 films.

As a director, Lupino is known for her ability to create suspense, a talent that served her well as she moved into television work in the mid-’50s and ’60s. Her fifth film, The Hitch-hiker (1953), is about a couple of guys on their way to a fishing trip in Mexico who, as you might guess, pick up a murderous hitchhiker. Lupino builds tension by confining some of the action to the interior of the car going through the isolated Mexican desert. Even when they’re not in the car, the buddies are cornered by the psychopath and his gun. Hitch-hiker is available to watch for free on YouTube or at Internet Archive.

Just as Nora Ephron blazed a trail for Diablo Cody, so did Ida Lupino for the women who came after her.

More on Ida Lupino:

Profile on tcm.com

The Museum of Broadcast Communications Bio

Women Directors…Special Tribute to Ida Lupino at Once Upon a Screen

TCM Week: March 26-April 1

Monday, March 26
2:45 p.m. Zero Hour! (1957)
I’ll be tuning into this for two reasons, one being Dana Andrews, and and the other this oddly Airplane!-like synopsis: “When a flight crew falls ill, the only man who can land the plane is afraid of flying.”

8:00 p.m. Kes (1970)
10:00 p.m. Darling (1965)
The last Monday of British New Wave Month kicks off with Kes, about a teenager whose only escape from the chaos around him is a falcon, and Darling, about a model in the Swinging ’60s. It continues with The Pumpkin Eater (1964) at 12:15 a.m., and The Knack…and How To Get It (1965) at 2:30 a.m. Guest hosted by @mercurie80.

Tuesday, March 27
Robert Mitchum Block
Beginning at 8 p.m. with Cape Fear (1962), TCM features 5 films starring one of the toughest dudes around, Robert Mitchum. He is truly psychopathic in Cape Fear and The Night of the Hunter (1955), both of which are difficult for me to watch, but I still recommend them.

Wednesday, March 28
British actor Dirk Bogarde is featured in a block beginning at noon: The Spanish Gardener (1956), Libel (1959), The Password Is Courage (1962) and Damn the Defiant (1962).

Thursday, March 29
3:00 p.m. The King’s Thief (1955)
George Sanders Alert
As he did in Forever Amber, Sanders plays Charles II in a swashbuckler that doesn’t require much thought. I mean that in the best way.

6:15 p.m. The Man Who Laughs [L’uomo che ride] (1966)
Remake of the 1928 silent which starred Conrad Veidt.

10:00 p.m. Dirigible (1931)
Very early Frank Capra work in which two pilots try to take a dirigible to the South Pole. Sounds really odd but it’s Capra.

Friday, March 30
8:30 a.m. Random Harvest (1942)
Paula (Greer Garson) is a nice showgirl who takes in a “John Smith” from the local asylum (Ronald Colman) only to lose him when he recovers his memory, discovers that he is really a rich guy and forgets all about her. Such a romantic film. No, really. Trust me.

6:30 p.m. Beware, My Lovely (1952)
I bet you thought I was going to pick The Seven Year Itch or Lost Weekend? Both are pretty good, especially Lost Weekend. Instead, I’ve got to shill for Beware, My Lovely, sort of a film noir/thriller hybrid that stars tough cookie Ida Lupino as a widow who discovers her handyman (Robert Ryan) is really a ticking time bomb of homicidal paranoia. Some really interesting angles make it a class on subjective camera.

Saturday, March 31
1:30 p.m. Stagecoach (1939)
Orson Welles allegedly watched this 70 times while making Citizen Kane, you might want to check it out at least once.

8:00 p.m. Sunrise (1927)
I really want see this one because it was directed by F.W. Murnau of Nosferatu fame. That film is one of the few silents I’ve seen on a big screen (OK, it’s also one of the few silents I’ve seen anywhere) and it really scares me, so I’m interested to see what he does with this story of major drama brought on an innocent married couple through the corrupting influence of a woman from the city. Guest hosted by @tpjost.

Sunday, April 1
So many good films today…wow. One crazy-sounding one is scheduled for 6:00 a.m., Hips, Hips, Hooray (1934), the plot of which is described as “the pretext for some delightfully anarchic gags.” Otherwise, you can tune pretty much any time today and not go too far wrong.

TCM Week spotlights a highly subjective selection of the week’s essential or undiscovered films on the Turner Classic Movies channel to help plan movie viewing, DVR scheduling or TCM Party attendance. All times are EST.