the lightness of errol flynn

Errol-flynnBrian Doyle at The American Scholar:

I know this sounds crazy—believe me, I know—but I just saw 19 Errol Flynn movies in a row (from Captain Blood, the 1935 film that made him instantly famous, to 1953’s The Master of Ballantrae, his last decent film and good performance before he died in 1959, only 50 years old), and I just read all three of the books he wrote, and I have read an awful lot written and said about him by other people.

Some conclusions:

One, Errol Flynn is one of the greatest actors I have ever seen, and I have been utterly absorbed in movies and movie actors since I was five years old when my sister took me to a movie theater for the first time (to see the new hit The Swiss Family Robinson). I am no professional critic, I am no scholar, but anyone who has seen thousands of actors in maybe 2,000 films has an informed opinion beyond his own taste.

Two, Flynn’s colorful life off screen—as dashing lover, epic seducer, irrepressible rake, suave man-about-town, innocent defendant in a spurious rape trial (the charges trumped up by a corrupt Los Angeles Police Department furious at Warner Bros. for not paying the usual bribe), legendary imbiber, and penniless star who lived his last years cruising the world on his boat—overshadows the superb acting he did on screen.

more here.