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Saturday, July 07, 2012

Pirate Banners Fly At Universal --- Part Two

Hard Not To Like Such Publicity as This for Buccaneer's Girl
A same ship and deck served as well for Captains Philip Friend, Jeff Chandler, Scott Brady, even Flynn when he took command. Pirate action at Universal might soar on borrowed wings of The Spanish Main, The Black Swan --- whatever color footage other companies supplied (for a price) to augment budget sailings from U-I. In a right spirit, these are entertaining and a window to picture-making done old-fashioned ways for not so choosy patronage.  Where's harm in switching off intellect to watch stalwarts Chandler and Brady spar over Suzan Ball in 1952's Yankee Buccaneer? They couldn't all be artful pirates after a lavish fashion of The Sea Hawk ... even Flynn never did another to approach that. As seagoing was mainly regarded a child's enterprise, there were precious few moneyed forays to the genre (did MGM ever try them?) --- not unlike poverty of horror and sci-fi done deluxe.

Flynn Lends On-Camera Hosting Support To U-I's Trailer for Against All Flags

Was Night Life Still As Much Fun
 for Early 50's Flynn?
Against All Flags brought back $1.4 million in domestic rentals --- OK, but not great (Burt Lancaster's 1952 go at Crimson Pirating took $2.1 domestic and an additional three million foreign). I don't know what AAF realized in oversea dollars, but I'd wager it topped the $1.4 in US loot. Most Flynn actioners traveled well --- Adventures Of Don Juan, Mara Maru, and The Master Of Ballantrae all grossed better cross-ocean than here. He was an international star in the most profitable sense of the term. EF got square behind Against All Flags, even to hosting its trailer and "truthfully" saying this was the action picture he most enjoyed making. I'd like to think Errol came away with some green, the heaven knows he needed it, given combo of wives, creditors, and tax agents dunning him.

On-location Errol Enjoys Society of a Character-Acting Rogue's Gallery

Heads Up, Errol! These Friar's Club Temptresses are Actually Bob Mitchum and Burt Lancaster in Femme Disguise

Trade-reported backdrop to Against All Flags was Errol Flynn's quicksand of an outlaw movie, if you'd even call it a movie, one Hello, God, so misbegotten (and buried since) as to make us wonder if it was real or just dreamed up to inspire lawsuits and bad press. Few names of Flynn's caliber had come to such tawdry impasse, this a year or three ahead of public awareness that he'd slipped. There would be disaster of an unfinished William Tell to clinch the fall, not really Errol's fault (he'd made unwise partners --- again), but Hello, God was ill-fated from a start, and according to estranged-from EF writer/producer William Marshall, done by the star in hopes of breaking his Warner contract (what sense did that make?).

Flynn Clowns It Up on Radio's In Town Tonight with Jack Benny, Dennis Day, and Danny Kaye

Hello, God began as an anti-war screed, or maybe a documentary --- who knew other than Marshall? --- whose brainchild it was. He and Flynn clashed quick enough, court and column bound from there, and the beating EF took made him look less pro than chump, one perhaps in need of contract supervision to avoid bogs like this. Flynn had played scenes to go with real-life war footage Marshall claimed to have got. They'd call it Before You Sleep Tonight, and four reels Marshall brought to the project would be blown up into a full-length feature, according to Variety, the balance to be Flynn's stuff, which was shot on rented stages at Hal Roach Studios and beach locations at Santa Barbara.

Go On, Ya Big Lug! Third Wife Patrice Wymore Playfully Chastises EF During Club Crawl

William Marshall claimed Flynn had given him a $50,000 note in exchange for half-interest in Hello, God. To this he added demand for $300K of lost revenue as a result of Errol spiriting away the finished negative and hiding same --- seems Marshall had shown Hello, God to a consortium known as The Motion Picture Sales Corporation, whose membership included actor Vincent Price, but then Flynn snatched Hello, God's negative and obliged Marshall to reconstruct the pic using other takes and trims. Despite "important shots" still missing, said Variety, his intent was to release what was cobbled, "in Europe before Christmas (1952)."

A Colorful Twenty-Four Sheet Serves as Youngster Lure to Sweet Treats Served Here

Flynn was for blocking any showings, "since with its pacifist theme, it would be detrimental to the public welfare to release it at this time," according to Variety. Errol was concerned that "it might be construed as Communist propaganda." Flynn's reputation was done no good being associated with this mess. Might the fiasco of Hello, God have impacted on EF's later effort to get completion cash for his stalled William Tell? At last year's Western Film Fair in Winston-Salem, I asked guest Sherry Jackson, age eight when she co-starred with Errol in Hello, God, what if anything she remembered about working with Flynn. Not too much as it turned out, though he did hand her a dime when they finished and told her to give him a call once she turned eighteen. On my inquiry as to whether she'd had or seen any stills from Hello, God, Ms. Jackson replied there were but two her mother kept. They're probably the only images that exist from this rarest of missing Flynn links (unless a Greenbriar reader has some socked away ... or maybe a print of the film?).


Blogger Laura said...

I've really enjoyed your pirate posts! Gorgeous photos. BUCCANEER'S GIRL absolutely charmed me when I saw it -- I wasn't expecting anything much and thought Yvonne DeCarlo was such a delight, it made me a real fan. That title and THE GAL WHO TOOK THE WEST are my favorite Universal DeCarlo films seen to date.

I enjoyed AGAINST ALL FLAGS, despite Flynn looking prematurely aged, and I'm feeling inspired to get out my Universal Pirate DVD set and watch another title soon. :)

Best wishes,

7:00 PM  
Anonymous Kevin K. said...

Somewhere on the internet (I forgot where) there's yet another "lost" Flynn movie made shortly before "Cuban Rebel Girls," a documentary on the Cuban revolution which he narrated.

"Hello God" sounds like a movie Ed Wood would have made if he'd taken a philosophy class.

10:31 AM  
Anonymous Tom said...

Too bad our hero didn't have a longer stay at Universal, or we eventually might have gotten Abbott and Costello Meet Erroll Flynn.

3:44 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

Yes, the Ed Wood comparison occurred to me too, as it does seem to be one of those movies that came together out of pieces, heedless of coherence.

I suspect Flynn knew what he was doing for his posterity by making it vanish.

9:09 PM  
Anonymous Kevin K. said...

Well, A & C hosted Errol on an episode of "Colgate Comedy Hour," so that's pretty close! (They do the old "slowly I turn, step by step" routine.)

9:08 AM  
Anonymous Brian said...

I really enjoyed your write-up on Against All Flags and the subsequent mention of 'Hello God'. I do have an 'unconfirmed' still from the film. It shows Flynn on a beach with a young boy, a dog and what looks like a soldier in uniform. Flynn is sporting the beard he would use for 'Kim', which confirms that the photograph was from the 1950 period. I'd be happy to post the photo, John but am not sure how to do it.

10:30 AM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Brian, if you can scan and e-mail that "Hello, God" still, I'll gladly post it here at Greenbriar. What you describe sounds like the real deal.

As for "Abbott and Costello Meet Errol Flynn," check out today's banner.

10:41 AM  

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