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Archive for April, 2014

A Curtiz Goulash is Made of Empty Horses

20 Apr

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My dear fellow Flynn fans,

here is all the Austrian National Library has to offer about director deluxe Michael Curtiz in his pre Hollywood days.

He was born Michaly Mano Kertesz Kaminer in Budapest on the 24th of december in 1888.

He came from an upper middle class jewish family.  His mother Aranka Vatz was an opera singer and his father Ignaz Kaminer an architect. He had two brothers, Gabriel and David. He was educated at the Royal Academy of Theatre and Art and attended the Markoszy University.

He started out as a child singer in 1899 and later became an actor in 1912 in the film “Today and tomorrow”. Then and there he confided to a friend that he intended to switch sides and was more interested in directing than acting.

He allegedly was part of the Hungarian fencing team at the Olympics in Stockholm of the same year.

In 1913 he took part in a monumental film called “Atlantis” made in Denmark, and claimed to be inspired by the very innovative way of film making there ever since.

In 1914/15 he served in the Infantry of the Austro- Hungarian Army along the Russian front and was wounded. He finished the war as newsreel camera man (one of the first of ist kind) making propaganda films.

In 1915 he married Ilona Kovacs Perenyi, a silent film actress also known as Lucy Doraine. Their daughter Katharine was born in 1916. His first marriage lasted until 1923.

In 1917 he became managing director of the newly founded Phoenix film production Company in Hungary.

By 1918 he had finished at least 38 films (some sources say 50), all lost or reduced to fragments.

When Bela Kun established the first communist regime in Hungary in March of the same year, Kertesz was busy filming “Liliom”, originally a play of Ferenc Molnar about a trigger temper carnival barker, who after serving time in purgatory for comitting suicide gets a second chance to do good on his daughter Julie. The 1945 broadway show “Carousel” is based on this story. It is the one and only of his 165 films Kertesz couldn´t finish. He fled the country with his family in turbulent times after Bela Kun was overthrown after a 120 day reign. Other prominent emigrants were Sandor (later: Alexander) Korda and Bela Lugosi.

During that period he is said to have made a film titled “Odette” in Sweden starring a 14 year old Greta Grabo.

From 1919 on Sascha Film Productions owner Count Alexander Kolowrat employed Kertesz in Vienna. Until 1926 timeless classics like “Sodom und Gomorrha” and “Die Sklavenkönigin” were made there with huge budgets and produced standard setting innovations. The  film known in the US as “The Moon of Israel” went head to head with Cecil B. De Mille`s “Ten Commandments” covering the exact topic of the exodus of the Israelits. Not to be outdone Kertesz contrived new ways for the scene of the parting of the Red Sea in order to match the superior Hollywood effects machinery. It was this pioneer spirit and the capability to direct up to 5000 extras that landed him a 28 year long lasting job with Warner Bros.

He made 3 films in Berlin with Count Kolowrat`s diva darling of the day Lili Damita (see EF blog: “The thrill of being Tiger Lil`”), before she became Mrs. Errol Flynn.

In 1929 he married Helen Lucas, a screen writer and actress also known under the stage name of Bess Meredyth.

In 1931 a certain Helen Lucy Doraine Rietmüller (rather: Reitmüller) can be found on the passengers list of the SS Bremen entering the port of NY. She claimed her residence to be in Hollywood 5680 Hilloak Drive. Despite their seperation Kertesz may have seen for his first wife to come to America.

In 1935 at age 19 his only legitimate child Katharina arrived at Los Angeles following her parents on February 23rd, again via the SS Bremen. Kertesz was a no show at the port probably working on the lot. “Kitty” becomes a scholar at the New York Art College. Four years later she tried to commit suicide and gives a sense of abbandonement as reason to the press.

But she was not the only Kertesz sibling to be left behind on the old continent. A son called Michael had been born to a bank accountant in 1920. Alimony was paid for him by Warners. His second daughter Sonja was born in 1923 to aspiring actress Miss Dalla Bona from the Sodom & Gomorrah set. In 1925 his second son was born to another actress from the S&G set, Miss Vondrak . Michael II. briefly worked for his dad as gaffer at the studios and is now  a painter in Seattle. Last but not least the daughter of actress Jill Gerard was acknowleged by a parental court to be Curtiz`child. She was born in 1956 when Casablanca`s favourite son was a mere 70 years old.

Back to 1935 and the filming of a flick called “The case of the curious bride”. It was there when a scene required of an unknown Australian actor  to mime a beautiful corpse covered with a blanket. When the cameras were rolling the silence suddenly was broken by a hearty sneeze from down under the blanket. Whereupon the temperamental dictator-director Curtiz supposedly snapped: “You-no-good-bum-of-a-sum-of-a-bitch, don´t you know, nose of dead man is dead also !?

The rest is Errol Flynn history.

Enjoy,

— shangheinz

 

We Welcome New Author, Tom Webb!

20 Apr

I am pleased to welcome new author Tom Web to The Errol Flynn Blog! Tom, welcome aboard, we look forward to your contributions and comments!

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— David DeWitt

 
 

A FLYNN FAMILY DOUBLE FEATURE!

19 Apr

UNCERTAIN GLORYSTOP TRAIN 349

 

Here is a suggestion for a Flynn and Son double feature. Now, while one obvious choice is “Captain Blood” and “The Son of Captain Blood”, this pairing is more interesting, I believe, because both lead characters have a major decision of conscience.

In “Uncertain Glory” (which celebrates the 70th anniversary of its premiere this month), Errol plays what might be termed an anti-hero, in that his character is a career criminal and convicted murderer set to be executed at the film’s beginning. The film was the first production of his then, newly formed production company, Thompson Productions and was chosen by Errol as a departure from his usual heroic roles.  The character, Jean Picard (no relation to Jean-Luc Picard of “Star Trek—The Next Generation”, I think), is about to face the quillotine, when during an Allied bombing raid on Occupied France, the prison where the execution is to take place is hit. Picard then makes his escape, but is soon recaptured by Inspector Bonet, the Surete inspector responsible for Picard’s original arrest, played by American Oscar winning actor, Paul Lukas. En route to Paris, they are forced to make a detour due to the bombing of a bridge, committed by a saboteur that took out a Nazi transport train. The Nazis in retaliation have taken 100 hostages from neighboring French villages and will execute them if the saboteur is not turned over to them. Picard implores Bonet to let him surrender himself as the saboteur as he would rather be killed by a firing squad (the means of execution of the Gestapo), then face the quillotine once again. Bonet wanting to help the hostages agrees to Picard’s plan, secure in the knowledge that if Picard uses this as a device to escape he will meet with failure.  (Or so he thinks!) While in a village, as they go over their plan, Bonet announces to his superiors that Jean Picard is dead; shot by him trying to escape. They also come across the real saboteur who provides them with Intel only he would know. At the same time Picard romances an innocent girl of the village played by the beautiful Jean Sullivan.  Now that he is officially dead and has a woman he can begin a new life with, and Bonet has taken ill, will he still trade places with the real saboteur or seize this chance to escape?

Errol gives one of his better performances as a villainous man who thinks only of himself. Unfortunately critics and audiences of the day did not agree. The film did okay at the box office, but did not do the business he hoped for. Flynn biographer, Thomas McNulty says  this, of Errol’s performance “perhaps one of the best of his career”. I agree. The scenes between Errol and Lukas definitely make the film worthwhile. Two of his other co-stars of note in this film are: Sheldon Leonard who plays Flynn’s best friend who ultimately betrays him over a girl, later became a successful American television producer of such shows like “Make Room for Daddy” and “I Spy” and “the girl”, Louise, played by the beautiful Faye Emerson, would have her own show in the 1950s.

Released in the U.S. in 1964, twenty years after “Uncertain Glory” and celebrating its own 50th anniversary release this year is “Stop Train 349”, a West German/French/Italian co-production. The film is called by Flynn biographer, Jeffrey Meyer, Sean’s “best film” and Sean in interviews said he was most proud of doing this film.

Loosely based on real events, the film starred American Oscar winning actor, Jose Ferrer and details the plight of refugees trying to cross “the Berlin wall”, one in particular who tries to use a train run by the U.S. military, as an escape vehicle.

The film starts with a prologue, detailing (for those unfamiliar with U.S. President Kennedy’s “Ich Bin Ein Berliner” speech) the building of the Berlin Wall, all set to strains of a song titled, “Goodbye, Berlin, Auf weidersehen”! After this introductory scene, the audience is introduced to Jose Ferrer’s character, an “ugly American” type reporter who makes his way onto the train and butts heads with the train’s military commander, a young lieutenant played by Flynn. The train is held at Marienborn station (the border between East and West Berlin) because the Communist officials at the station believe an East Berlin citizen is illegally on board. What follows is a political standoff between the Americans on the train and the Russians and Germans at the station. The film shot in black & white has a stark realism. Sean’s performance as a good “Joe” caught in the middle of a difficult situation is slightly uneven, but basically effective.

The film was initially released in West Germany in 1963 as “Verspatung in Marienborn” and released in the U.S. by Allied Artists as “Stop Train 349” in 1964. It won the best “youth” film award at the 1963 Berlin International Film Festival. In the U.S. while Jose Ferrer was the nominal star, Sean was still listed as “the son of Errol Flynn” in all advertising for the movie. Allied Artists’ brazen exploitation of Sean’s parentage aside, the movie only did fair box office in the U.S.

In their respective films, the Flynns have difficult decisions to make. Both got mixed reviews for their performances. But I feel this makes an interesting double bill. Both are a product of their time. See for yourself. “Uncertain Glory” is part of the TCM Spotlight collection: the Errol Flynn Adventures DVD collection and can be seen occasionally on the TCM cable channel. Stop Train 349” is also available on DVD from different on-line dealers such as Amazon.com… and Movies Unlimited, as well as can be seen on the SeanFlynnCambodia YouTube channel.—A. R.

— ILIKEFLYNN

 
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The Errol Flynn Mailbag! April 2014

19 Apr

As most of you know, The Errol Flynn Blog migrated from another host that called it quits. During the migation we lost most of our author and comment attributions, and many attachments. Jan, one of our authors, wrote to tell me of an older posting no longer had two images showing how Errol signed the guestbook at the Rock Hotel, in Gibraltar, in 1951. He was able to aquire them again, and now shares them with us:

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– thanks, Jan!

— David DeWitt

 
 

Errol’s Girlfriend Releases New Exercise DVD!

18 Apr

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Incredible! Errol was really something!! You’ve got to read this.

Good for Marianne … I mean Gillian!!!
(My Mom wants a copy! .. Maybe I’ll get it for Mother’s Day!)

www.express.co.uk/news/showbiz/470862/Dame-Gillian-Lynne-Nights-with-Errol-Flynn-dancing-for-the-Queen-and-keeping-fit-at-88…

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gillianlynne.com…

— Gentleman Tim

 
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Cruising the Ocean Blue with You Know Who

17 Apr

With this tab I hope to intiate and create with fellow EFB authors a compendium of information, records & images documenting Errol’s cruises on commercial passenger ships throughout his life. Here are some initial names of, images, and information concerning these vessels, with timeframes Errol was on board – to be expanded upon here and in subsequent posts/comments:

PASSENGER SHIPS ON WHICH ERROL TRAVELED (AS A PASSENGER):

S.Y. Aurora (Per MWWW, 1908 or 9)

S.S. Berrima (1922)

Montoro (September of 1927) (October of 1929)

Kokopo (commercial schooner) (April of 1933)

SS D’Artagnan (May of 1933)

Empress of Asia (Spring of 193)

Fusham (Chinese packet boat) (Spring of 1933)

SS Compiegne (June of 1933)

SS Paris (November of 1934)

RMS Queen Mary (April of 1937)

SS Matsonia ( October of 1938)

SS Lurline (November of 1938)

 

 

 

 

— Gentleman Tim

 
 

Tom McNulty on Jack Marino’s Radio Show!

14 Apr

In case you missed author/blogger and Errol Flynn biographer Tom McNulty on Jack Marino’s LA Talk Radio Show:

— David DeWitt

 
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The thrill of being Tiger Lil`

12 Apr

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My dear fellow Flynn fans,

here is what I dug up from the ancient archives of the Austrian National Library concerning the sexy sensual sparkplug we know as Mrs. Errol Flynn I.

Born Liliane Marie Madeleine Carré in Blaye near Bordeux on July 10th of either 1901 or rather 1904, she appeared in dancing revues in the Grand Nation`s capitol as early as age 15.

Of purported Iberian ancestry she started her career with the stage name of Damita del Rojo. Later she changed it to Lily Seslys under which she got credited with favorable performances during the silent film era.

As soon as film producer Count Alexander “Sascha” Kolowrat had laid his ladyloving eyes on her, he left no jewel unturned to lure the little dame from Paris to Vienna. This movie mogul went to great lenghts and used his personal riches to put big pictures onto the screen such as the then costliest movie up to date “Sodom and Gomorrah”.

Not only a bonvivant he was also a connaisseur of young talent and for example introduced Marlene Dietrich to the art of filmmaking.

But Lili was not to be seduced easily. She was determined to become a star and not end up a starlet. When arriving at the central train station of Vienna she was accompanied by an older woman (who may or may not have been her mother) as bodyguard. It was only when Count Kolowrat gave her top billing in his next three films partly made in Berlin: “Fiacre (stagecoach) Nr. 13”, “The Golden Butterfly” and “Plaything of Paris” that she agreed to terms and the chaperone was sent home. Director of all three flicks was a certain Michaly Kertesz, who soon was to embark on a shiptrip to Hollywood with no return ticket on a contract by Warner Bros.

Here is a comment of the “Neues Wiener Tagblatt” on the upraising star from the 4th of may 1929:

A fairytale out of real life

How Lili Damita found her way to film would make a fine story for a movie full of romance and sentimentalities so well liked these days, that has audiences streaming tears down their cheeks. Dancing in Boulevard venues at age 15 she was discovered and brought here by the late Count Alexander Kolowrat of Sascha Film Factory. Instand success came via “Das Spielzeug von Paris” under the guidance of one Michaly Kertesz providing a never before seen array of technical effects and scenic splendor. Standing out nonetheless was the appearance of this juvenile diva with her slender and flexible figure and that fine Parisian facial features. A new star had emerged.

A household name by now Lili Damita engaged in a torrid affair with the Prussian Prince Louis Ferdinand von Hohenzollern much to the delight of the European newspaper media. The 20 year young crown prince was madly in love with the temperamental French actress and vowed to marry her. His royal family naturally didn`t approve of the impossible liaison and urged L. Ferdinand to keep things “physical”. Rumours that Lili held his cousin, the Duke of Kent in equally intimate esteem may have contributed that Ferdinand ultimately married Princess Kira Romanowa. But not before following Damita to the United States and even accepting a worldly job at the Henry Ford automobile plant in Michigan. Lili by then had already set her sight on another royalty- the Baron of Mullholland.

Enjoy,

 

 

— shangheinz

 

Errol Flynn wins top billing in game to name inaugural Tasmanian Theatre Awards

11 Apr

Errol Flynn wins top billing in game to name inaugural Tasmanian Theatre Awards

  • Actors Olivia De Havilland and Tasmanian-born Errol Flynn in 1935 film Captain Blood. Pic

Actors Olivia De Havilland and Tasmanian-born Errol Flynn in 1935 film Captain Blood. Picture: TCMSource: Supplied

TASMANIA’S new theatre awards have been christened The Errols, paying tribute to the state’s swashbuckling Hollywood star Errol Flynn.

Theatre Council of Tasmania chairman Rod Anderson announced the name, which was chosen via a public competition, on ABC Breakfast Radio this morning.

“My fellow judges and I were overwhelmed with the number of entries we received and were really impressed — not just with the level of interest shown — but the amount of thought that went into each of the 120-plus nominations,” Mr Anderson said.

CURTAIN RISES ON NAME GAME

Several people suggested The Errols as a potential name, leaving the judges to pick the competition winner out of a hat. Duncan Hall, from South Hobart, was selected and will receive two tickets an Errol-nominated show of his choice.

Designed to celebrate excellence in the performing arts throughout Tasmania, the inaugural Errols feature almost 30 award categories, open to local productions staged between February 1 this year and January 2015.

Judging has already started, with the first awards ceremony to be held next March.

tassie devil

— tassie devil

 
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Errol Flynn Society of Tasmania Supports local drama

11 Apr

The Errol Flynn Society of Tasmania is to support the younger drama students in the Hobart Eisteddfod with a cash prize for a period of ten years. The syllabus has been released and can be viewed at the address below. Have a look at page 44 (55 in right column) for the mention of the society. The society had some monies in deposit and wanted to support young drama students under 18 in the hope that our prize may help them to realise a dream and possibly go through to an acting career as did our most famous Tasmanian, Errol Flynn.

hobarteisteddfod.com…

— tassie devil

 
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