The story of Tasmanian-born actor Errol Flynn whose short & flamboyant life, full of scandals, adventures, loves and excess was largely played out in front of the camera - either making ...
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This special features clips from Flynn's movies including "Adventures of Robin Hood," "Captain Blood," "Santa Fe Trail" and others. Charges of his Nazi affiliation and never-before released... See full summary »
Hal B. Wallis,
The story of Tasmanian-born actor Errol Flynn whose short & flamboyant life, full of scandals, adventures, loves and excess was largely played out in front of the camera - either making movies or filling the newsreels and gossip magazines. Tragically he was dead from the effects of drugs and alcohol by the time he was only 50 & the myths live on. But there is another side of Flynn that is less well known - his ambitions to be a serious writer and newspaper correspondent, his documentary films and his interest in the Spanish Civil War and Castro's Cuba Written by
A Fast and Furious Treatment of an Amazing 20th Century Life - And WHAT a Life!!!
I happened to watch the DVD of this 55-minute documentary last night at a friend's house - he happens to be a major Errol Flynn buff. Well, all I can say is "WOW" - I plan to buy the DVD of this one, asap! Having seen some pretty lame recent attempts to document Flynn on film - notably the British Channel 4's creepy "Errol Flynn: Secret Lives," not to mention another low-budgeter currently circulating on the internet - I was very pleasantly surprised by this thoughtful, well-mounted offering. It's a fresh, thoroughly-researched look at Flynn's life and film career that pulls no punches, cherishes Flynn for his unique talents, and avoids many of the common mistakes often made about Flynn. The Australian producers, Nasht and de Young (whom I had never heard of!) obviously did their homework - and then some. Wit, style, location shooting, and some recently pioneered GCI graphics enhance the proceedings considerably.
I must say that, having read a few books on Flynn, and seen most of his films, I've gotta love ANY film that de-stresses Flynn's films and accentuates his acute love of writing (something most people have no idea of), not to mention his political adventures. This includes his amazing involvement in the Spanish Civil War in 1937 and his strange support (initially, at least) of Castro's revolution in 1959. I also thought that the various "talking heads" - notably Meyers, Valenti, Sherman, Hurst, Beverly Aadland (Flynn's last love), and historian John Hammond Moore - not to mention both of Flynn's daughters Deirdre and Rory - did extremely well in providing thoughtful commentary at various critical points of the Flynn saga. It was likewise gratifying to see another convincing knock-down of the libelous exercise in imaginative fiction by one of Hollywood's best-known literary hucksters (who made a disgraceful fortune in 1980 by bogusly claiming that Flynn was a secret Nazi agent - a claim since thoroughly discredited).
But best of all, I think, is the presence of the wondrous Christopher Lee, who acts as narrator and occasional on-screen presence. With his luxuriantly rich, age-mellowed voice (there's none of its occasional past bombast here!), Lee discusses lovingly a man he clearly was wary of but still has great affection for (that in spite of Flynn's nearly severing one of his fingers while drunk during an on-screen fencing duel!).
"Tasmanian Devil: The Fast and Furious Life of Errol Flynn" is in my view an altogether first- rate effort. While perhaps not as ultimately compelling as the recent TCM bio "The Adventures of Errol Flynn" (which accompanies Warner Home Video's first Errol Flynn DVD Collection), it worthily takes its place among the two or three best documentary treatments of Flynn. But be warned: it should probably be rated either PG or R. I, for one, wouldn't let my children watch it - largely because of the use of the "f" word, plus a rather unnecessary nude scene near the beginning (apparently lifted from a feature film, "Flynn," starring Guy Pearce; my advice is skip the feature, watch the documentary instead!)
This is one treatment of a glamor figure of the past that left me wanting more - I wish it could have been longer, say about 90 minutes. Nonetheless, it's a welcome, highly skilled piece of work - if you're an Errol Flynn fan, or even a fan of the golden age of Hollywood, you won't want to miss it!
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