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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Greenbriar Won't Let Errol Go!

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Errol and Patrice on Errol's Yacht After Their Wedding
I have to break in line before Part Two of Boy On A Dolphin (which goes up Saturday) to post a couple of blue-ribbon comments from GPS readers who generously took time to further expound on Errol Flynn and Hello God. Craig Reardon is a name familiar to us --- his points are always well-taken, informative, insightful (remember Craig's reminiscence about outdoor Cinerama?). Here are thoughts from him about Errol Flynn I sure enjoyed --- and suspect you will too. Also there is first-time correspondent (hope it won't be the last) Ralph Schiller, who really knows his Flynn, tendering data likely new to all of us. Thank you, Mr.Schiller, for getting to the bottom of Hello God's fate. What a story! There's also more conversation between reader Brian (who supplied the ultra-rare Hello God, or is it?, image in the first place) and Mike Mazzone, co-author with Robert Matzen of Errol Flynn Slept Here, in the original comments section of the Hello God post (these were submitted over the last six or so days, so you may not have seen them). Overall, a great couple of weeks for Errol excavations in general and Hello God in particular, thanks to this expert panel of reader/participants.

Flynn Greets Acting Colleague Paul Henried During Euro Stop

Errol Relaxes at Cannes Film Festival
From Craig Reardon: Just an email is to say "Thanks!!" for the recent articles about one of my favorites, Errol Flynn. I still think he was one of the undervalued actors in all movie history. I also acknowledge that you are a big supporter and fan, as this latest couple of posts continues to prove. The closest I ever came to the great Errol was first of all my dad's recollection of installing a telephone (when he began with 'Ma Bell' in the mid-1940s out of their Gower Street station in Hollywood) at Flynn's hilltop home, albeit admitting the legend was not home, much to his disappointment; however, he remembered seeing a mirror on the ceiling in one of the bedrooms! (This I believe was supposed to have been a two way mirror, enabling observation or even photography of what transpired in the sack, below!).

Oh, Yeah? Sez You! Flynn Confronts Customs Staff at Rome Airport

Then, briefly meeting his daughter Rory, a rather glamorous lady, on a very low budget film she was working on as a still photographer back in 1988 or so. Finally, years earlier in 1976, meeting a couple of sound men (mixer and boom man) on one of the earliest movies I ever worked on, also VERY low budget, who---the sound guys---both knew Flynn and both agreed he was a great guy. When people volunteer opinions like this, I always think they must have some basis in fact! (The same two guys had worked at Paramount and had less than complimentary things to say about some other big names of that I didn't get the impression they were the sort to hand out encomiums with indifference.)

Fashion Plate Flynn Makes Selection at Favored Haberdashery

Errol and Patrice Greet Fans on the Banks of the Seine
Then again, some of these older movie vets---and I met a lot of them in my own earlier days, as many of them---some of whom had actually started as kids in the silent days!---were still working---anyway, this is a typically-tortured sentence by me!----these guys were tough cookies with a rough and ready sense of humor. I remember one of these guys saying, either from personal experience or having heard tell, that you might arrive at a party at Flynn's house and his butler (perhaps hired for the evening) would collect your clothes at the door! Yes, he pointedly said your clothes, not your hat and coat. This reeks a little of limburger cheese to me, like this guy might have read it in an old dog-eared copy of Confidential--- but on the other hand, how would I know?

Professor Theodore Thomson-Flynn Flanked By Bad Boy Son and Even Worse John Decker, Whose Own Exploits Made Errol Look Like Lord Fauntleroy By Comparison 

A Jaunty Flynn Receives the Press on Eve of British Start on
The Master Of Ballantrae
Flynn seemed to conduct his entire life like an ongoing adventure and party. He seems to have been a real promethean character. I don't know if you recognize or remember the name Tony Thomas (?). Thomas loved film music, for one thing, and wrote two books about the great Hollywood composers of the golden era. I once met him and he was a most gracious, handsome little guy. Sad that he died really way too young, though in fact he might have been around the age I am now (59.) I don't know. Thomas began, I believe, as a mellifluous-voiced radio journalist from Canada who practically worshipped Errol Flynn.

Another of Those Screwy Star Benefits, This Time Joined by George Jessel, Betty Hutton,
Van Johnson, and Harpo Marx

He once put out a personal tribute to Flynn on an lp record, which I think he entitled "Tribute to a Cavalier." It consisted of a spoken docu-biography of Flynn (by Thomas), highlighted by a brief interview he himself conducted with Flynn ca. 1959 when the actor briefly portrayed Rochester in a stage production of "Jane Eyre" in Hollywood, almost at the end of his life. Flynn's remarks seemed philosophical and true, and I remember him saying, "I've had a great life, and I've had a hell of a good time." It's nice to think he felt that way on the eve of eternity. The lp was rounded out with a delightful old radio production/promotion for the contemporary '38 "Adventures of Robin Hood," which features a suite of themes from the score, which I believe were conducted live by the composer Korngold, and narration spoken by Basil Rathbone.

One-Time Close Friend Bruce Cabot --- They Fell Out In The Wake of William Tell

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Even Robin Hood Sometimes Needed His Reading Glasses
From Ralph Schiller: I do not believe the remarkable photograph in question is from "Hello God" or even taken on the set during the making of the film.

Everyone knows that Errol Flynn is playing an American soldier on the beach in WW2. Beards, to anyone who has ever served in the armed forces, are strictly non-regulation. A battle-weary soldier (with no time to shave in combat) might be sporting a rough stubble across his entire face but never a neatly-trimmed goatee beard!

I am convinced the photo is from the making of "Kim". In fact the two other people in the photo look decidedly British in appearance to me.

Is Murder At Monte Carlo Really Gone Forever? Ralph Schiller Thinks So

Errol Welcomed Back to Hollywood for Istanbul by John Bentley
and Jane Russell
I went to a 'Hollywood Collector's Show" in March 2011 where I had the great pleasure of meeting the still gorgeous-looking Sherry Jackson, who was in the cast of "Hello God." I asked her about the film and her first words to me were "Have you seen it?" She remembered that the film was shot in California at Santa Barbara, and that Errol Flynn was very nice to her. In fact, she said he gave her a dime and said "Promise to call me after you turn eighteen!"

Sherry Jackson said she had a B&W still taken on the set of "Hello God" somewhere in her vast collection. I gave her my E-Mail address and phone number and promised to purchase the still if she could locate it. A few months later I received an E-Mail from her manager asking me for the
exorbitant price of $150.00 for the still because of its rarity. I agreed to the price and still heard nothing for several months. I again contacted her manager and a few weeks later Sherry Jackson left a voicemail on my phone saying she was still searching for the still through several storage bins. I have heard nothing since, so I am assuming she was unable to locate the still with her and Errol Flynn.

7/26/12 --- 8:55 A.M. --- Robert Matzen answers Ralph Schiller's comment and speculates further as to the mystery of the Hello God still:

The questionable still is highly intriguing, so much so that even the experts disagree on what they're looking at. I do not buy Ralph's assertion that this is a still related to the production of dust-bound Kim. It doesn't ring true for me, especially if they're all posing with a process screen depicting an ocean. It could be a publicity photo taken at the kickoff of HG production, for all we know. I also thought about what Ralph said regarding EF portraying a soldier and hence not having whiskers, and I wondered if perhaps in addition he played God or a representative of heaven, a la Mr. Jordan, and this was why he wore the fancy get-up. I'm just not familiar enough with Hello God to know what might have been depicted.

At any rate, these posts have been a blast, and I love your choice of Flynn candids, some of which I've never seen before. The Flynn-Wymore-Cabot shot looks like it must be from right around the time of the falling out over paychecks Cabot was owed from William Tell.

7/26/12 --- 10:06 A.M. --- Mike Mazzone takes up the Hello God topic again and wonders if Flynn may have played a bigger role than we imagined:

Looking closely at the Hello God still, Errol's goatee looks to be applied makeup. It's thicker and darker than Errol's natural goatee as seen with Princess Irene or even in the Kim stills. It also has two pronounced points on the beard part. Could Errol have played God? In The Films Of Errol Flynn, the cast listing refers to him as "the man on the beach," not as a soldier.

7/27/12 --- 1:20 P.M. --- And Ralph Schiller has more ...

Robert Matzen is certainly right in that the still in question with Errol Flynn was taken in front of a studio process screen.

Mike Mazzone also has a valid point in that Flynn's beard is a make-up job.

Flynn appears to be noticeably older in the photo. My guess is that this photo still was taken inside a soundstage at
Bray Studios, near Windsor outside of London in 1956. Errol was making "The Errol Flynn Theatre" television series. That could very well be the beard he wore in the episode with Patrice Wymore "A Wife For The Czar"!


Blogger Scott MacGillivray said...

WOW! Let me get in line behind you, John, in congratulating Messrs. Reardon and Schiller for their astute observations.

It's a little ironic that, in these days of multi-megabuck film deals and expensive entertainment properties, the fate of an obscure motion-picture project once depended on the payment of $1431.88. (Of course, that was in 1965; today that figure might be closer to $10,000, but that's still within reason to "rescue" a lost film.)

12:03 PM  
Anonymous John Maddox Roberts said...

I'm intrigued by the knife Flynn is holding in the photo taken on his yacht. It's clearly a vintage Randall, but I'm not sure about the model.

11:17 PM  
Anonymous Bernd said...

Waltraat Haus - the correct spelling would be "Waltraut Haas" and she is Austrian, not German.
Still going strong and performing at the age of 85...

4:46 AM  
Anonymous MikeD said...

That was another great post but are you sure that's not Beverly Aadland in the last picture?

5:36 PM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

The back caption on the still says Bardot. Besides, Beverly never looked this good.

5:53 PM  
Anonymous Ralph Schiller said...

Robert Matzen is certainly right in that the still in question with Errol Flynn was taken in front of a studio process screen.

Mike Mazzone also has a valid point in that Flynn's beard is a make-up job.

Flynn appears to be noticably older in the photo. My guess is that this photo still was taken inside a soundstage at
Bray Studios, near Windsor outside of London in 1956. Errol was making "The Errol Flynn Theatre" television series. That could very well be the beard he wore in the episode with Patrice Wymore "A Wife For The Czar"!

Ralph Schiller

1:20 PM  
Anonymous Brian. said...

I think Ralph makes a good point that this could be a still from 'A Wife For the Czar'. My only real issue with that is that Flynn looks in pretty good physical shape on the supposed 'Hello God' still which certainly doesn't tie in with other photos of Flynn circa 1955, when he was filming The EF Theatre at Bray. Flynn had piled on a few pounds in the mid-rift section by that point and had aged considerably, facially. I think anyone looking at the image without the 'Czar' consideration would be very hesitant to place that as Flynn circa 1955.

8:12 AM  

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