|Index||3 reviews in total|
Errol Flynn was a very good actor. This statement always raises a
snicker from film buffs who blithely assume that he coasted his way
through his signature roles as Hollywood's Greatest
Swashbuckler--"Robin Hood," "The Sea Hawk," "Captain Blood" and other
giants of that genre on sheer good looks, panache and athleticism. All
three of these had been depleted by the end of the 195O's by prolonged
abuse of alcohol and drugs, largely triggered by the spiritually
demoralizing effects of Flynn's statutory rape trial in 1942.
Nevertheless, he proved his abilities in a surprise comeback in three
films: "The Sun Also Rises"(1957), "Too Much, Too Soon" and "The Roots
of Heaven" (both 1958), in all of which he played aging alcoholics with
a depth of feeling that startled his detractors. At this point, most
critics allege he "went out like a clown" with a dismal performance in
a truly dismal film, "Cuban Rebel Girls"(1959). He didn't. He redeemed
himself with a charming turn as an aging con man in "The Golden
Shanty," helped in the by-now hard work of memorizing lines--a strain
which seldom shows on screen--by the sympathetic direction of future
screen great Arthur Hiller, and sharp supporting turns by Peter Hansen
and Patricia Barry.
Yes, he looks old and tired, but these qualities are absolutely right for the part--and the role of "Doc Boatwright" offers Flynn fans a tantalizing glimpse of how he might have fared as an older, character actor had he lived. Watch his priceless facial expressions as Barry, who he's trying to swindle, talks giddily of running off to St. Louis with him, or his deliberately hollow protestations to Hansen ("Our national monuments!") This half-hour episode is funny and charming; don't be turned away by stories of the difficulties he had making it--it stands as a last, small triumph and a vindication of his acting ability.
In an interview, director Arthur Hiller recalls the time when he
directed Errol Flynn in what he described as "a little western story."
First encountering Flynn in rehearsal after checking his costume (and
noting the scent of vodka), Hiller was enormously impressed when the
actor gave a beautiful reading of his character in the read-through
with the cast, but, when it came time to block the action out and begin
filming, Flynn's self-confidence began to ebb away, prompting Hiller to
try to boost his confidence. Despite the warmth between the actor and
director, the next day Flynn called in sick.
According to Hiller, the production company brought Errol to work by limo after their doctor checked him out, and Hiller understood that Flynn was merely afraid. The once swashbuckling figure, who was clearly in pain, at one point faltered over a bit of business, laid his head on the bar in the saloon where the scene was set, breaking down in tears during filming, saying "I don't know what I'm doing." Hiller, who felt that the actor was well liked by most people was deeply moved by the whole experience, much of it too heartbreaking to witness.
The director describes the filming of "The Golden Shanty" in some detail during an interview found at the Archive of American Television, found below in Part 6 of his account of his career. The comments about Flynn begin at 6:06 below: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=-JQ_juHn0Vg
Flynn is a tired weary man to watch in this half hour television
episode that was sandwiched in between conferring with the publishers
and checking the galleys of his autobiography My Wicked,Wicked Ways and
nailing down a buyer for his beloved yacht the Zaca. Each undertaking
eagerly accepted in a bid to stay one step ahead of insolvency.
The story is simple enough, Flynn's Doc is a jaded conman with a medicine wagon and a cure all elixir to fleece his customers. He stumbles into an unexpected windfall when he passes through a gold town that has seen better days. While he plots to stash his cache in his wagon, he comes across the usual complications.
Naturally, there's a girl who is captured by his (rusty) charms. Golden Shanty is run of the mill television, boosted by the presence of a Flynn now faded. It was directed by Arthur Hiller (Plaza Suite) who, despite it all, found Errol "impossible to dislike", with the mischievous charm of a small boy. (The Films of Errol Flynn. Citadel 1969). For Flynn fans there are a few sparse sparkles, nothing more.
|Ratings||Plot keywords||Main details|
|Your user reviews||Your vote history|