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CUBAN REBEL GIRLS, the wretched last film of legendary star Errol Flynn, is a tragic epitaph. It's only 'value' is the morbid opportunity to see the actor's physical deterioration in the last few months of his life, coupled with his inability to give an even cursory performance.
While the rationale behind the production was the obvious tax write-off that a failed film could provide, there are mysteries and legends surrounding it, as with many of the significant events in Flynn's life.
One legend involves the financial backing of the film. Flynn was nearly broke, despite maintaining an outwardly affluent appearance ("I believe you should always dress in your best suit, and present your best 'front', when you're borrowing money," he would tell his biographer, Earl Conrad). The actor had already taken (and spent) an advance from Putnam to write his autobiography (which would be published posthumously as 'My Wicked, Wicked Ways'), and the publishing firm, fearing the actor would not fulfill his obligation, assigned veteran journalist Conrad (with two court stenographers) to follow the actor, and interview him daily. Legend has it that Flynn also went to a variety of sources, some less 'savory' than others, to borrow 'front' money for a film he said he was making. As time passed, and the film hadn't appeared, Flynn found himself in an awkward and potentially dangerous situation with his backers...so he took what little he had left of the borrowed cash to assemble a crew, write a script, and shoot a 'quickie' in Cuba.
The other legend involved his girlfriend, sixteen-year old Beverly Aadland. Flynn had been the defendant in a number of statutory rape trials, dating back to 1943, and had been acquitted, usually because the teens in question could 'pass' as older, and, in some cases, even had faked IDs. With his well-publicized sexual appetites, Flynn was an easy 'target' for publicity-hungry young women of easy virtue. Aadland, who had already been involved with the actor for several years, seemed to vindicate his critics' charges that Flynn was not the 'innocent' that his lawyers claimed him to be, but truly had a 'thing' for young girls (making him the Roman Polanski of his time). But the voluptuous teen was, according to friends of Flynn, genuinely in love with the aging star, nursing him through his bouts of malaria, keeping him supplied with vodka, and tenaciously guarding what little privacy he could maintain. Her one dream was to become an actress, and Flynn, according to legend, wrote CUBAN REBEL GIRLS to give her the opportunity no studio ever would, with her notoriety.
Sadly, whether CUBAN REBEL GIRLS was created as a tax write-off, a product of a last-minute attempt to appease backers, or as a 'Valentine' to a controversial love, Errol Flynn's swansong was simply awful.
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