In With Flynn
I just came across a 2013 biopic about Errol Flynn called “The Last Of Robin Hood.” It’s set not during the screen star’s swashbuckling heyday, but during his final years in the late ’50s. Kevin Kline gives a fantastic performance and the film is well done, though the plot is not particularly engrossing.
Flynn was a prodigious Casanova and lent his name to the expression “in like Flynn.” The film features several extended scenes at a facsimile of his Mulholland Drive estate, which is very stylish in a midcentury Southern California way.
Here’s Flynn being chauffered home in his flashy new car:
Inside he acts out his former swashbuckling roles with his teenage lover, played by Dakota Fanning. Note the Old Hollywood staples of turtleneck and fireplace, even though we’re in sunny Los Angeles:
I only noticed this brilliant detail when I went through the film a second time to take screenshots. The old swashbuckler has those little plastic swords for the olives in his martinis:
There are also a couple of scenes at his lawyer’s office (top image and below), which is traditionally appointed with tartan curtains, hunting painting and tufted leather chairs:
Flynn’s estate, which he called Mulholland Farm and whose building he had commissioned himself, was one of Hollywood’s legendary haunted houses, later owned by singer Ricky Nelson before the house was razed and a new one built that is currently occupied by Justin Timberlake. Here’s a little write-up I found:
Flynn’s hard-driving ways caught up to him in 1959 when he died at age 50. Mulholland Farm was then purchased by Stuart Hamblen, who was one of American radio’s first singing cowboys. There were no reports of oddities during Hamblen’s 20 years of ownership, but things got interesting again in 1980 when singer-songwriter Ricky Nelson and his family bought Mulholland Farm. Nelson’s daughter, Tracy, felt a presence in the house and would recount strange happenings such as sounds of people throwing things at the walls, breaking chairs and breaking glass, but no one was there. Ricky’s response for these eerie events was, “Oh that’s only Errol.”
Ricky Nelson died in a plane crash in 1985 and afterward, Tracy theorized that Flynn’s ghost was trying to warn Nelson of impending disaster. Eventually, a real estate developer bought the property and demolished Flynn’s notorious home in 1988. Fast forward to 1997 when actress Helen Hunt purchased the property and built a home that she never lived in, selling it in 2002 to a modern swashbuckler of another sort — pop star Justin Timberlake who bought it for $8.2 million.
I took up fencing at age 19 and discovered Flynn’s movies soon after. I continue to prefer Stewart Granger’s dueling scenes, but hope Flynn’s ghost has found rest.
On the subject of Flynn himself, not his pad, my favorite cinematic impersonation of the ole boy was by someone who could hold his own with the swashbuckler, Peter O’Toole, in the delightful comedy about the Sid Caesar era of TV, My Favorite Year.
Yes, good film. I’m due for a rewatch.
Those are, I believe, metal swords for martini olives, etc. My grandfather had a set—wish I knew what happened to them!
I recall the subject of the sermon in Cambridge, MA, the Sunday after he died in October of 1959. “The way of the transgressor is not as hard as some claim!”
This was Flynn’s paraphrase ofProverbs 13:15.