Speaking of Burma …

08 Mar

Errol starred in a movie which included an actor in key role who in real life served in America’s Burma campaigns. This actor even had a hand in bombing the equivalent of the fictional but fact-based “Bridge Over the River Kwai”?

Here’s some Jeopardy-like music for you to listen to while you contemplate who this actor was:

— Gentleman Tim


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  1. twinarchers

    March 10, 2017 at 12:17 am

    The actor was in Mara Maru.
    “I hate the British!”

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    • Gentleman Tim

      March 10, 2017 at 1:38 am

      Mission accomplished, twinarchers! Paul Percini!

      How the heck did you get that so quick!? You da bomb. … I was just about to drop three clues – one, that he was in a film with Beverly Aadland (Marjorie Morningstar); two, that he was affiliated with an NFL team (Halftime MC fir the LA Rans); and, three, that he was in a movie with Raymond Burr, where Burr’s adversary (Errol!) was named “Mason”.)

      I could have mentioned too that Paul attended Jack Marino’s legendary Mulholland Drive Boys 100th Anniversary Tribute to Errol, along with a number of the EFB’s most esteemed authors, including David, Karl, Tom, and Jack himself, of course. Man, how I wish I had known about that at the time! If anyone has some Paul Percini photos from that event, please do post! I believe I’ve seen one of Jack and Paul together, and one or more group photos.*

      Here is video of Paul remembering Errol, and a photo of prolific Paul with his wife and eight children!…


      * I believe, too, that Maru Maru may have been shown at the 100th.

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    • PW

      March 10, 2017 at 7:20 pm

      Excuse me, GT, but to which ‘American Burma Campaigns’ do you refer? Burma was principally a British field of war. ‘Objective Burma’ and it’s disgraceful inaccuracies regarding the English (ie its total excision of us Brits) caused so much offence to the families of dead British soldiers that Churchill, who was as pro-American as it was possible to be, had the film banned. The English newspapers were outraged by this piece of celluloid fiction presented as fact, including ‘The Times’ (the world’s most venerable publication), which ran a cartoon, saying ‘Excuse me, Mr Flynn, but you are stepping on some graves.’ This was unfair, as it was the fault of Warner Bros, not Errol, but the film remains a sore subject over here.

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      • Gentleman Tim

        March 10, 2017 at 8:36 pm

        All praise and gratitude to and for the gallant British people and forces that stood up so bravely against A-hole Adolph.

        Here’s some more on who and what inspired Objective Burma!…


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      • Gentleman Tim

        March 12, 2017 at 9:33 am

        PW, you are absolutely right that no praise should have denied the heroically wonderful and courageous people of Great Britain for all they sacrificed. War is hell, and Warners was wrong to omit proper tribute to the Great British people for their bravery and sacrifices, no doubt about it. I’m sure that decision greed-driven on the part of the studio.

        On the part of Americans, however, the situation was more complex, I believe. Though it was a British Theater of War, America was asked (by the British, I believe) to conduct various campaigns there – in one of which Paul Picerni served. Merrill’s Marauders (which insprired Objective Burma!) served there, too – under Frank Merrill, and less directly, I believe, under Vinegar Joe Stilwell.

        Neither Merrill, nor Stilwell, who they didn’t call Vinegar Joe for nothing, wanted to serve under Lord Mountbatten, nor probably any British commander. I’m not positive, but I suspect they may not have wanted to conduct any campaigns in Burma at all. After all, Burma was British Province, which the vast majority of Americans had known no connection to whatsoever. Indeed, extremely few probably ever saw the name of the country in print except on Burma Shave cans and signs.

        So, Americans natural reaction to sending men to suffer and die in such a region would naturally be very controversial. Most for ask why in the world are we fighting there? For many former colonists from America (possibly even part-Irish ones from Van Diemen’s Land, too), there would be suspicions that British Government and Military interests in Burma were more Imperialistic in nature than altruistic. Perhaps that would be the case with even some British citizens. George Orwell published these very interesting and possibly prophetic observations about British control of Burma prior to the War:…

        None of this by any means diminishes the fact that we should be forever grateful to the brave British military and people who fought and suffered valiantly in order to end Japan’s brutal exploitation of Burma. They were heroes who helped save the world from horrendous tyranny.

        I know very little about Burma, PW, only through a bit of research and through my sister’s helping Bono out with his own campaign to help the country in recent years. So, please do correct and challenge me whenever and wherever I am wrong in what I say. I greatly respect your knowledge and opinions and will try to improve my own from all you are kind enough to post.

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        • Gentleman Tim

          March 12, 2017 at 9:46 am

          And here is why Burma WAS so important:


          Does the British 36th Division soldier on our right (copied from the above link) remind anyone of Errol!?! I think so, and that’s not LA LA Land behind him.


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        • PW

          March 12, 2017 at 10:44 am

          Dear Gentleman friend, I am indeed aware of Vinegar Joe and Frank Merrill, though the raid depicted in the film never took place, and understand that Americans at the time would have had very mixed views about a single US soldier setting foot in Burma.

          George Orwell on the British Empire, however, is very problematic. One has to read Orwell knowing something of his own politics. First, It is often supposed that ‘Animal Farm’ was a critique of Communism. It was actually a critique of Capitalism.

          Orwell was a rabid Socialist and anti-Capitalist, who detested the American political system even more than the British. (Had he lived in America, he would have been seen as a dangerous Communist.) He was also anti-‘privilege’, anti-middle class, anti-private education and money, and of course anti-Empire in any form.

          Naturally, as a fervent anti-Imperialist, though he did spend time in Burma, his views and accounts of the British Empire are very biased and cannot be taken as either accurate or remotely balanced.

          Anti-Imperialists at that time never gave the British credit when it was due, and it often was. My father, when he was very young, became a supporter of the British Labour party, which, amusingly lead his mother to disinherit him, saying she could not tolerate a Socialist in the family!

          He became a Labour MP in 1945, and was Sir Stafford Cripps’s personal assistant, and part of the British Cabinet Mission to India, sent there to arrange Independence.

          He knew all the Indian leaders very well, including Ghandi, whom he adored, even though the latter was a terrible old fraud at times – and also Mountbatten, whom my father found both stupid and vain. Mountbatten’s wife, Edwina, was a well-know nymphomaniac, who had shocked London Society by having an affair with the coloured pianist and singer, Hutch. In India, she had a passionate, illicit affair with Nehru.

          All this aside, my father spend many years in India, fell in love with an Indian girl, and wrote the most detailed and in many peoples’ view, unbiased account of Independence and the British in India.

          It is now in the Bodleian Library in Oxford, and his autobiography, ‘Confessions of an Optimist’, is used by historians of India – and I include Indian historians of India in this – as an invaluable primary source. His Indian Journals, edited by yours truly, are also to be published next year.

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          • Gentleman Tim

            March 12, 2017 at 11:29 am

            Fascinating, Lady P. Please tell us more. I always accepted that Animal Farm and 1984 were critiques of totalitarian communism. I clearly need to study deeper.

            Two questions, PW: Was Orwell an agent for British Intelligence, and was he anti-Fabian, or pro-Fabian??



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          • Gentleman Tim

            March 12, 2017 at 12:28 pm

            PW, would you agree that this as an accurate assessment of where Orwell stood? An anti-Soviet, anti-Fascist, anti-imperialist, idealistic socialist?



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            • PW

              March 12, 2017 at 4:03 pm

              You do keep a girl on her toes! Orwell was indeed a democratic and idealistic Socialist, and abhorred all forms of dictatorship. There was/is a huge difference between Socialism and Communism, and he was right to worry and complain that many people seemed to think they were similar, or even one and the same.

              Yet, like many British political writers/philosophers of his generation, he was not always consistent. Bertrand Russell, for instance, began as a Fabian supporter, but because he was also a pacifist, later turned on the Fabian Society for its support of a entente against Germany, on the grounds that it might lead to war.

              Russell was also one of the group of rather naïve British intellectuals who thought Stalinist Russia a paradise – but then radically changed his mind and called for it to be bombed!

              I will get back to you on Orwell and the Fabians, as well as British Intelligence. I have to screw my head on properly..

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              • Gentleman Tim

                March 12, 2017 at 4:33 pm

                Thanks Lady P. You are such a wealth of wonderfull 411, sparkling wit, and brilliant insight.

                Btw, I believe Errol also saw The Simpsons in the Bahamas, and almost certainly in California, too. As much as they both travelled through Europe, the Caribbean, and the States, I wouldn’t be surprised if they crossed paths many times, including in Manhattan, with Jimmy Donahue tagging along and paying the bills, too. Rumors exist also that they met at the Hotel Meurice in Paris circa ’37.

                Last year I helped organize and run a ~ “Tribute to Errol Flynn” charity event with one of Wallace Simpson’s in law/relatives, related via Wally’s first husband/victim, a pioneering aviator from one of the U.S. Navy’s most famous families. Rory and her son, Sean, very kindly attended and were the stars of that event, with Leonard Maltin and others of Hollywood note there too. My son and I were fortunate to have visited the family’s home where Errol played Sardines, in a manner displaying his legendary athletic skills and remarkable sense of humor and creativity.

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                • PW

                  March 12, 2017 at 8:46 pm

                  Aha. You not only keep a girl on her toes, you then turn her head! I do envy you that visit to the family home. I love your description of Errol playing Sardines. I bet he was creative, and then some!

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                  • Gentleman Tim

                    March 12, 2017 at 9:50 pm

                    It was the summer of ’41, Petsy. Errol was the biggest star in the world, at his peak, filming Dive Bomber on Coronado. He and Arno were in a suite at the Hotel del Coronado, with the Sirocco docked across the strand in Glorietta Bay, which on days off he sailed to nearby Mexico for fishing, fun, and Flynning around.

                    Anyhow, everyone wanted Errol, especially all the females, flyboy wives and girlfriends included, who invited him everywhere. Despite that, (most) all the aviators loved him too, inviting him into their circle and their legendary North Island Officer Club, where he would often party with the pilots.

                    So, one night at the O-Club, Errol gets invited to an after-party at the cottage of one of young pilots, from the family of the Navy’s most famous families, the Mustins.

                    Long story longer, Navy wives and girlfriends, and female friends of theirs, decide they want to play Sardines with Errol. Being that this was just a cottage, it would be a very close quarters, something I imagine fueled their desire to play the game.

                    Only problem was that after the lights went out, after searching every conceivable hiding spot in the very small one floor cottage, no one could find Errol. Finally, they turned on the lights and saw Errol right there in front of them, within only feet of them, lying horizontal on the very narrow fireplace mantle. Somehow, he very quietly and quickly lifted all 6’1 or 2″ of himself up onto that mantle without making any detectable noise. To all there, it was absolutely astonishing, something they never forgot and which has become Mustin family lore, known by very few outside the family. The story is now published here for the first time anywhere I believe.

                    A wiki-description of the Mustins, including a brief reference to Wally:


                    Here’s Errol during his Dive Bomber days:


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              • PW

                March 12, 2017 at 8:06 pm

                The Fabian Society was founded in the 1880s by members of the Victorian cultural ‘elite’, including the poet Edward Carpenter, Havelock Ellis, an early ‘sexologist’, and the idealistic Socialist Richard R. Pease.

                The society was named after Fabius Maximus, the Roman General who defeated Hannibal by just waiting around, and that gives you an idea of its flavour.

                The Fabians were just a little too impractical and off with the fairies. They advocated things like vegetarianism and the ‘renewal of Renaissance ideals ‘, which would not have impressed your average Cockney labourer. In fact, it was all a bit Marie Antoinette milking the cows, and ‘Fabianism’ was regarded by many Socialists, especially those involved in politics, with suspicion.

                In the 1890s, the Fabian Society was essentially taken over by Sidney and Beatrice Webb – and their names are the ones most people associate with Fabianism. Sidney Webb was resoundingly middle class and was called to the Bar in 1885. Sidney looked a bit like his friend and fellow Fabian Bernard Shaw, only both he and his beard were much shorter. Beatrice came from quite a privileged background and was a bit of a society beauty.

                Beatrice rather outshone her husband, actually. She was not only striking but rather brilliant and witty, the sort of woman Errol would have adored. After her marriage she declared: ‘Sidney and I are now one – and I’m the one!’ .

                But even in the early 20th Century, the Fabian Society didn’t always adhere to Socialist principles. As I have said, many British Socialists at that time were pacifists. Fabians proved a grave disappointment when they favoured an international entente against Germany, which pacifists saw as an act of ‘aggression.’

                I would call Fabianism ‘Salon Socialism’ – or what would later be called ‘Champagne Socialism.’ Later Fabians, and we are now moving into the 1950s, included renowned ‘Champagne Socialists’ Roy Jenkins and the dashing Labour Foreign Secretary Antony Crosland.

                Both these men were friends of my father, and Tony Crosland was the most expensively turned out man in London. When he and my father were at Oxford, he once tried to throw my papa into a fountain because he was not wearing full evening dress.

                Orwell, though he did not, as he sometimes pretended, come from a poor background — he was educated at Eton – was more austere. His socialism was not that social; in short, his interest in parties didn’t really extend to the non-political kind.

                I imagine he would have regarded the Fabian Society as a bit beneath his notice. I am being equivocal here, because I have not come across any strong Orwellian views for or against it.

                However, he did form a close and surprising friendship with David Astor. Astor was a millionaire and highly social, but he was also the editor of The Observer newspaper (owned by his father). In 1945,The Observer sent Orwell to Europe as a War Correspondent.

                This is where we get on to British Intelligence. In 2000, shortly before he died, Astor gave an interview. In it, he said that Orwell had expressed a wish to travel to Europe before the war ended, so that he could see at first hand a totalitarian state. He added, however, that by the time Orwell got to Germany ‘it had blown away…he was looking for something that was no longer there.’

                Orwell’s biographer, W J West, claims, on the other hand, that his motives were financial, and that Orwell wanted to earn some extra money so he could move his family to Jura, a Scottish island.

                But Astor had undoubted links to Intelligence. He served with the covert military intelligence force, called The Special Operations Executive, during the war, and maintained a close association with British Intelligence.

                Astor denied (as he would) that Orwell had anything to do with that kind of thing, but no-one has ever been sure either way. In Paris, for instance, Orwell met with groups of people whose only common denominator was that they had links with intelligence.

                The MI5 file on Orwell, which was released in 2005, does not say very much, only that he was not considered a ‘security risk.’ On balance, I don’t think Orwell did anything significant for British Intelligence ,or was ever asked to do so. This is also the view of the Orwell Society.

                There is the ‘list’ , of course. In 1949, Orwell put together a list of writers and other figures whom he considered to be Communists, for the Information Research Department, a Government body that acted as a sort of propaganda department at the start of the Cold War.

                However this was pretty run of the mill stuff. So, was Orwell a spy? Not bloody likely, to quote Shaw’s Eliza Doolittle.

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                • PW

                  March 12, 2017 at 8:53 pm

                  Below are Sidney Webb and Bernard Shaw at Hill Farm.


                  Would you buy a used Fabian from these men?

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                  • Gentleman Tim

                    March 13, 2017 at 6:07 am

                    No way, Jose(f), PW. Not even with collective bargaining. In fact, didn’t all three of them long try to convince us mere Westerners that the Moskvitch was superior to the Rolls? … Never saw Errol in a Moskvitch.

                    Shaw looks like he may be carrying a spare part in his coat pocket. … Always a smart move for someone driving and selling Soviet vehicles, including himself.

                    Oh, what tangled Webbs they weaved, those wayward Fabians.



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