Mail Bag! Reagan, Flynn and Wayne?

15 May

Our Portugal based friend Audie spotted this and send it along …

Here’s the nearest that John Wayne and Ronald Reagan came to acting in the same feature film. (Sadly, not all that close):

Olivia, Flynn and a future President (as George Custer).

In April, 1940, Warner Bros. set up the semi-Western Santa Fe Trail as a vehicle for Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland. The plot followed the exploits of army officers J.E.B. Stuart and George Armstrong Custer after their graduation from West Point.

As per usual, the brothers Warner were free and easy with facts, given that Stuart graduated from the academy in 1854 and Custer matriculated in 1861, and the two men didn’t know one another. The Hollywood rationale? “Come on, already! This is a movie! At least both of them graduated from the Point!”

Duke Wayne, now in the A-list category thanks to Stagecoach and Dark Command, was approached by Warners to play the George Custer role. Wayne, however, turned up his nose at the part, having no desire to play second banana to Flynn (then Warner Bros.’s biggest star), even though the flick was a big-budget epic.

Undaunted, Warners cast contract player Dennis Morgan as Custer, but Denny fell out due to a scheduling conflict. At which point, up-and-comer Ronald Reagan, fresh from his triumph as George Gipp in Knute Rockne, All American, was hurriedly awarded the role.

Mr. Reagan, aware he was a last-minute replacement, later recalled how a frazzled studio tailor rushed into his dressing room to refit a Santa Fe Trail cavalry costume:

It occurred to me then that it would be just as easy someday to throw my clothes in a corner and hang some other actor’s in their place. …

If John Wayne had been less finicky about the parts he accepted, the “other actor” in Santa Fe Trail would have been the Big Cowboy and not Ronald Reagan portraying George A. Custer.

This is as close as the two ever got to acting in the same film: they were both offered the same part.

Postscript: “SFT” was a highly profitable film that boosted Reagan’s career. It fell into the Public Domain when United Artists Television neglected to renew the copyright.




— David DeWitt


One, Two, Three – Kick!

15 May

“Beginning in the late 1930s and booming in the 1940s, conga dancing became wildly popular in the US.” Errol occasionally joined in the Congamania – in Cuba, in Hollywood, and in New York. Here is some evidence, beginning with a news report of a wire from Cuba, where Errol had just been, or was very soon to be, involved in a “free-for-all” Dodge City-like fracas at a famous nightclub in Havana, details of which I will post tomorrow.

May 16, 1938

Harrison Carroll
Evening Herald Express ba

Errol Flynn has wired for reservations at La Conga for the night of May 21.

The La Conga in Hollywood

Errol was still kicking more than a year later. Here he is sitting with his sister Rosemary (and Randy Burke) and in a conga line led by Desi Arnaz on tumbadora at the La Conga in Manhattan, on August 5, 1939:

La Conga, Manhattan

The conga craze continued in Hollywood (and around the world) into the Forties. Here’s Desi Arnaz leading a huge line in Too Many Girls (1940) during which he and Lucy fell in love, leading to groundbreaking television history, in the form of I Love Lucy and Desilu Productions, etc. Look for Lucy near the end of this wildly fun conga clip.

— Gentleman Tim


The Long and Winding Road to Mulholland Farm

14 May

May 15, 1939

Harrison Carroll
Evening Herald Express

Racking his brain over what to do with eight loose acres up on Mulholland Drive, overlooking the San Fernando Valley, Errol Flynn hit on an interesting idea. He will turn his property into a fancy rest camp, with eight guest cabins, three tennis courts and a dozen riding nags available for the nearby Hollywood folk in search of quick relaxation.

Flynn plans to spend a lot of money on the project. Chances are that Bud Ernst, one of his close pals, will manage the place, which will be open to the public.

Beautiful but Dangerous Mulholland Drive…

— Gentleman Tim


Louella Tells No Tales Out of School 🙄

14 May

May 15, 1939

Louella O. Parsons

I don’t like to tell tales out of school but the real reason Warners is changing the title The Knight and the Lady to Elizabeth and Essex is a compromise gesture to both Bette Davis and Errol Flynn.. It seems there was considerable soothing to do since Bette thought The Knight and the Lady didn’t get over the Elizabeth idea and Errol didn’t like the idea of just plain Queen Elizabeth. I understand there’s been some discussion about the willing – whether it is to be Bette or Errol first.

When the dust clears I imagine Flynn will be the gallant Irishman and give in to the lady. By the way, the title Elizabeth and Essex will have to be specially purchased since it belongs to another story not owned by Warners.

— Gentleman Tim


Most Exciting Costume Play of This or Any Other Era

13 May

The Adventures of Robin Hood; Released May 14, 1938

Quotes from Louella O. Parsons’ glowing review of The Adventures of Robin Hood

The Adventures of Robin Hood is the most exciting costume play of this or any other era. Cunningly combining melodrama, romance, and colorful adventure, it romps along at Twentieth Century speed, making us forget we are seeing legendary characters who lived in the swashbuckling of early England.

Robin Hood comes to us in the person of dashing Errol Flynn, whose performance tops anything the young Flynn has yet given to the screen.

There couldn’t be a lovelier Maid Marian than Olivia de Havilland.

Basil Rathbone gives one of his topping performances as Sir Guy of Gisbourne.

Claude Rains reaches new heights.

Ian Hunter is the perfect King Richard the Lionhearted.

You’ll like the kittenish Una O’Connor, the prankish Eugene Pallete, the hearty and lovable Alan Hale, the weak, spineless Sheriff of Nottingham played by the sterling actor, Melville Cooper, merry crew member Herbert Mundin, and Patric Knowles.

Much credit goes to that splendid director, Michael Curtiz, and William Keighley

The music, by Erich Wolfgang Korngold, is enchanting.

Costumes by Orry-Kelly are beautiful.

The photography, by Tony Gudio and Sol Polito, is poetic.

Perc Westmore, may I say, did a great job on makeup.

The Technicolor adds materially to the beauty of the picture.

Joe Mantegna, who sought and received a Hollywood Walk of Fame Star next to Errol’s, gives a Flynntastic interview about the greatness and importance of both Errol Flynn and The Adventures of Robin Hood. He is a true fan.

— Gentleman Tim


A Knock-Down Drag-Out Affair

13 May

Read the rest of this entry »

— Gentleman Tim


The Fortunes of War

12 May

Published on YouTube Today – May 13, 2021

Starring Errol and Christopher Lee

— Gentleman Tim


Requiem for a Cavalier

12 May

An “Extended Version” of Tony Thomas’s “Sound Picture” interview of and tribute to Errol was posted yesterday on YouTube.Fascinating to hear Errol talk about his life at such length Here it is, from his youth in Tasmania to his days just prior to filming Roots of Heaven.

— Gentleman Tim



12 May

May 13, 1936

Evening Herald Examiner

He-Men of Filmdom Tell “Worst Fears”

Can you imagine those big “he-men” of the screen – Errol Flynn, Clsrk Gable, George Brent, and Victor McLaglen – having the jitters from fright.

Flynn’s great scare came six years ago in New Guinea when he was prospecting for gold. In the middle of a wide stream his raft fell to pieces. He and six natives started swimming for shore, when Flynn felt something bump his knee.

“Alligator!” cried one of the natives, and immediately disappeared with a blood-curdling scream. Flynn and the rest made the shore safely, but Flynn had to examiner his hair to examiner his hair in the mirror to convince himself it hasn’t turned wjite.

— Gentleman Tim


Alice in Wondrousland

11 May

Errol Flynn crowns Alice Moore, La Cuesta Queen at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff: June 1, 1940

— Gentleman Tim