My dear fellow Flynn fans,
though Stewart Granger and Errol Flynn never crossed swords on the screen, they more often than once were wandering on parallel paths. It was Errol`s decision to star in Kipling`s “Kim” instead of donning khakis in “King Solomon`s Mines” that initiated Granger`s Hollywood career. “Kim” showed Flynn redbearded with a shaven head in an India advertisement/Holy man`s quest/child prodigy buddy movie with anticlimactic ending. At a crucial time this film failed Flynn in his claim of the swashbuckler`s throne. Meanwhile Granger looked ravashingly dashing as African adventurer Allan Quatermain wearing that safari hat with leopard band which made his a household name. The gentlemanly Englishman followed up with eternal movie gems like “Scaramouche” and “The prisoner of Zenda”, entrusted with lead roles that only a few years prior would have instantly gone to Flynn. When Granger went up to Flynn at a party to thank him for his ill advised “Kim” career choice, a smiling Flynn stopped him in his tracks saying: “Don`t rub it in.” From that moment on Errol referred to Granger as “The One”. He had set his sight on Europe`s movie market as an independant producer and literally passed the torch to Granger. Ironically Hollywood had placed its cloak and dagger in the hands of a man equally troubled with health problems. Granger had been released from military service in WWII because of intestinal afflictions. And he too tried make up for that personal letdown, embracing the rather risky lifestyle of a big game hunter.
Granger remembered seeing Flynn for the very first time at the film festival in Cannes in 1948:
“The word was out that Flynn`s boat, the famous black shooner “Zaca” was arriving in port . The crowd was hoping to catch a glimpse of him. Me included. I was a British star, but we didn`t mean the same as a “Hollywood star”. I was fighting to get a good look at my hero (I had seen “Captain Blood” four times at first release and 20 times later on in life) when he came off the boat. He was immaculate in white with a lady on either arm. A white Cadillac was drawn up waiting for him as he stepped onto the dock. The crowds cheered-held back by the gendarmes- Flynn smiled, waved and the car drove off. I will never forget that moment. That was my idea of a movie star!”
Incidentally their grassroots went even further back to the Malvern Theater Festival of 1934, where Granger`s first wife Elspeth March (they met a year later) was playing the lead role and Errol appeared as spear carrier (!). He had his mind made up by then and told her: “I promise you that within a year I shall be in Hollywood and marry a film star. ” When Granger investigated how far their friendship had evolved, Elspeth told that she only had been taught to play poker by the aspiring actor- groom.
During his assignment to Africa, Granger offered his London apartment complete with Hungarian house maid and wine cellar to his friend, Commander Kehoe. He couldn`t possibly have known that Kenoe would invite a certain Freddy McEvoy for dinner and that Errol would tag along. After a whole week of fun and games the maid was gone. She was shocked by the coming and going of a parade of very young girls. Needless to say that the wine was gone too. Errol made good later on and invited Granger and his second wife Jean Simmons to his house on Mullhollland Drive complete with two way mirror tour de luxe..
Stewart Granger cherished Errol`s wicked sense of humor. When teasing him on his fencing abilties, the following verbal exchange ensued.
“You know I`m a better swordsman than you.”
“I know, but I have better hips…”