O'Flynn, soldier of fortune, returns to Ireland during the Napoleonic wars just in time to save Lady Benedetta from robbers. But they pursue her to ruinous Castle O'Flynn, after secret papers she carries which would reveal Napoleon's plans to invade Ireland. The Napoleonic agents (and British traitors) will stop at nothing to gain their ends, but the swashbuckling exploits of the O'Flynn may be a match for them all Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
This film is a semi-comical adventure film starring Douglas Fairbanks Jr. as a charming, impoverished Irish aristocrat. Fairbanks Jr. has always been sidelined in most critics views. His father was one of the superstars of Hollywood in the high silent period from 1915 to 1929, and even essayed a few interesting sound films. As the heir of the family name, Fairbanks Jr. had to make his own way. He did, but most people still think of his father first when "Fairbanks" and "movies" are mentioned.
Fairbanks Jr. did have some significantly good roles in variety: he was the insane Tsar Peter III in CATHERINE THE GREAT, he graced a number of comedies like THE YOUNG AT HEART, and he could play villains (Rupert of Henzau in THE PRISONER OF ZENDA) as well as heroes (THE CORSICAN BROTHERS). But his competition was the ever available Errol Flynn, Tyrone Power, and David Niven. Two superstars and a up-and-coming actor (later Oscar winner). Fairbanks kept competing and making films (and later television) but he gradually got more involved with diplomatic affairs between the United States and Great Britain, which became his final home. It was his choice, and he did well there too - but it's a pity. He was a better than average actor. To me his best performance (aside from Rupert) is the doctor trying to flee an iron curtain country in STATE SECRET.
He is at his charming best here, stumbling onto a conspiracy led by Richard Greene's Lord Sedgemonth to help a French invasion fleet get settled in Ireland and succeed in resting that country from British control. He also is trying to romance Helena Carter (a stiff aristocrat), and avoid the traps of Greene and his mistress Patricia Medina. All while keeping his charming, easy going manners. Witness the scene where he confronts the French general Otto Waldis, who catches him on a lie, but still continues drinking with him.
The background of the film is true, but forgotten. In 1797 Wolfe Tone, the great Irish patriot, was in Paris trying to plot an invasion by the French revolutionary forces to free all of Ireland (Protestant and Catholic) of Britain. He was working with General Lazare Hoche and the great mutiny of the British fleet in that year would have been the best opportunity. But while France's government debated the plan, Hoche died suddenly. Within a year Napoleon Bonaparte was the leading general, and he was using resources to invade Egypt. Still a small force was sent to Ireland, but got bogged down there and were forced out by the British. Tone tried to start the timed revolt, but it was snuffed out. He was arrested but committed suicide. His leading aristocratic ally, Lord Edward Fitzgerald (the model for Greene's Lord Sedgemonth) was killed when he was being arrested. The revolt still went on, but was put down by the then Viceroy of Ireland, Charles, Marquis Cornwallis (yes, Cornwallis was far more successful in Ireland and India as a soldier and administrator than in the United States). It is this background that is behind the story of THE FIGHTING O'FLYNN.
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