The William Tell trail- Errol Flynn`s swashbuckling swansong

18 Nov

Dear Flynn Fans,

thanks David for welcoming me aboard (schooner or pirate ship that is?).

I`ve been a big fan of Errol since the age of ten when I saw Robin Hood for the first time on TV.

Now 33 years later I dig for bits and pieces in all four corners of the globe concerning his abandoned William Tell- film.

We all agree that it would have been his second coming of Robin Hood and an instant resurrection of his career.

I dub this project: “The greatest film never seen on the silver screen.”

Fortunately one Austrian actress which was part of the cast still lives  in Vienna and granted me an interview.

Mrs. Waltraut Haas remembered well her role of Mary and recalled some of the circumstances of the shooting in Courmayeur.

Most of all she was full of praise of Errol, his humour and gentleman attitude (he liked to flirt, but respected boundaries).

She told me when present, he was the first on the set, knowing well his lines.

She was rented out from German production firm “Herzog Film” for a rehearsing scene and beat out Vira Silenti by choice of Jack Cardiff.

She was friendly with Pat Crawley, wife of  the “whats-his-name- boxer” and had a daily budget of 1000 Lira, which sometimes they used for movie tickets instead of meals.

One night Errol and his entourage went out to a Hillside Casino and meet with Gina Lollobrigida and her Serb husband, which was speaking German well, so they got along well.

When they met again years later at a Biennale in Berlin and greeted each other, la Lollo had forgotten about their brief encounter and asked Mrs. Haas, where from she knew her husband?

“From the Casino!”, replied Mrs. Haas, unaware that casino means also “brothel” in Italian when not pronounced perfectly right.

She confirmed that in her dying scene her dress was torn up by the Habsburgian henchman Jost and her bussom would have shown- the mother of all Nipplegate affairs so to speak.

This might have attracted the interest of King Farouk, which wanted to meet her in Rome.

When she resisted, Mrs. Haas said, that she took some heat from cast and crew (not from Errol!) for shunning the possible sponsor.

Quite interesting was that she mentioned filmmaker Roberto Rosselini being interested in helping out to finish the film some time later on.

By then young Guido Martufi had grown considerably and that in reality this was the final deathblow to the project.

For unpaid hotel bills the Cinemascope lense, which the camera man (Hermann?) had personally vouched for, was taken away.

He promptly suffered a heart attack. I will now search for more information south of the Austrian border, in Italy and will try to contact the other female lead, Mrs. Antonella Lualdi and her husband Franco Interlenghi in Rome.

If I succeed, I plan to write everything into a book called: “The William Tell trail- Errol Flynn`s swashbuckling swansong.”

But you will read it  here first, since you are all good sports!

Bye for now, Heinz

— shangheinz


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Yes, that’s it. As I said below, the cameraman was, I think, called Hermann Schopp.
But I believe that Vira Silenti did play another role? Wasn’t it Sophia Loren who did not get a role?

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Welcome to the blog, Heinz. It’s a cozy place to be and msome of the members are even quite likeable! Relating to your topic, I went to Courmayeur in May of 1990 looking for the William Tell village. I had understood that it had been left standing, but after much search I came up empty handed. Oddly, none of the people I asked seemed to be familiar with what I was searching for. It was only years later that I read that the village had finally been taken down in the late 70s. Nevertheless, it was wonderful to be in… Read more »

Dear Mr. Heinz; Welcome aboard to this great Errol Flynn web site set up and managed by David. Your future book sounds absolutely fascinating and I will purchase a copy as soon as it’s available. I went to Los Angeles, California to see the 11 minutes of “William Tell” footage at UCLA Film & TV Archives in 1999. I was astounded at what I saw because the footage was breath-taking. By the way the clapboard on the set for the out-takes gave the title of the film as “The Story Of William Tell”. Alas the footage was silent, as the… Read more »

Hi Heinz; Welcome to the fabulous Errol Flynn Blog! I hope you enjoy it as much as we do! Your comments are very remarkable and you must have looked into the makings of William Tell quite a lot to unearth so many interesting details. I wish you luck in Italy to come up with more interesting information. Every little bit helps to put this jigsaw puzzle together. Obviously, all of it we will never know, which is very sad indeed! So you are from good old Austria, so am I. What city if I may ask? Ich bin eine Klagenfurterin… Read more »

Hello Heinz, and welcome to the blog!
Wow — thank you for sharing all your information on the William Tell film — it’s so fascinating!
Good luck with the rest of your work and research, and I too would be very interested to read your book “The William Tell Trail” if you ever do publish it. :-)

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There is more than one member of this blog with experience publishing books if you get to the point that you want to pursue this! I am sure they would all have some great advice for you!

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@David – in reading this whole post (2012) I am wondering if the book has ever bene published yet? if so, what’s the actual title so I can purchase?…

Also in concerns to the films placement, isn’t held by the Errol Flynn estate (Rory, etc..) – as mention in another post on EFB, that they do, or something to that nature? With this being said, why would they not release to the public? I have seen it a couple times; once on TCM and other I cant remember, but I have…thanks for your impute on this mater…

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Sergio, you’ll have to ask Heinz about the present situation with the book he proposed in 2012. And the Estate doesn’t own the rights to William Tell as far as know. It was never completed and precious few material from it still exists.

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