Update on “Abdul The Damned”

04 Aug

I just received the movie DVD “Abdul The Damned” and it really looks like very much so that Errol was an “Extra” in this movie made in 1934/35.  I would say that I definitely recognized Errol three times as an Extra. Sadly the credits do not list the movie production company where one could inquire to the absolute fact.

It is a good movie and I liked it very much, but it had two more surprised in addition to Errol..
Patric Knowles is in the movie and not on the bottom of the credits – he is in the middle. He plays OMAR, Hilmi Pasha’s Attache and he has one speaking line “But he can abdicate” very close at the end of the movie.
I wonder if Errol and Patric knew each other already in England???
The other surprise – the heroin played by Adrienne Ames, a very beautiful actress, was Bruce Cabot‘s wife from 1933 to 1937 and it says that it was a stormy marriage.
What a small world the acting community actually is or was it just in those days?
That’s all for today!

— Tina


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  1. Anonymous

    August 4, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    Hi Tina!
    I would venture to GUESS that it is probably not EF. This was filmed in the UK in 1935 (released 1936) and we know that EF arrived in the US in 1935. I don't recall there ever being any mention of his being cast as an extra in the UK in this film. People please correct me if I'm wrong but he did the Bounty film then went on to Rep in England and onto the USA….

  2. Anonymous

    August 4, 2010 at 6:24 pm

    According to the definitive book “Errol Flynn~A Daily Chronology”, by the eminent Flynn scholar, Robert Florczak, Errol Flynn departed Plymouth, England on November 14 aboard the ocean liner Paris, arriving in New York on November 20.

  3. Anonymous

    August 4, 2010 at 8:41 pm

    Ah, the eminent Flynn scholar, RF–my personal favorite! One can always count on you for things such as this….

  4. Anonymous

    August 5, 2010 at 10:45 am

    Hey Guys,
    Abdul the Damned (Abdul Hamid) was filmed in October 1934 by the BIP, Elstree Studio and distributed by Wardour.*
    That would certainly mean Flynn could have been around for this one.
    I recall trying to get hold of the film a few years back on e-bay and other various places with no luck. Tina -where on earth did you find a copy? I'd love to get hold of this one.
    I have heard mention that Errol may have appeared in this film. Without question there are British Flynn film performances out there that we haven't yet unearthed – ok, these may be non-speaking roles but in my mind they are still well worth uncovering as I think we all like to piece together the pieces of Errol's life.
    Patricia – There are various periods of Errol's time in the UK that need further investigation. The periods that interest me most are when Errol arrived in the UK after leaving Erben, just before he landed the job at the Rep and then we have the short period when Errol left the Rep and moved to London before he landed the Hollywood contract. I've been slowly trying to piece these periods together. I bought a whole bundle of photocopied letters written to and from the little-known (but very good) British film director John Baxter. I have mentioned here before that Flynn signed on at the Baxter and Barter Casting Agency during both these periods and he is mentioned quite frequently in the letters. I also have Ray Seaton's research notes/material for his unpublished book 'Errol Flynn: The Last Romantic Hero'. Ray went out there and interviewed a lot of people from the UK film Industry of the 30s and some of his findings were quite fascinating.
    There is a lot we don't know about this period of Errol's life and some of the stuff I have been lucky enough to come across offers a tantalising insight, there is a story there. A story of Flynn at his most desperate to forge a career for himself in acting, some of it isn't pretty but, as with everything Flynn, it is fascinating.
    Great work Tina!
    best wishes
    *British Films 1927-1939, BFI Library Services, Edited by Wood, L.

  5. Anonymous

    August 5, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    Have you read the two books I've listed below. Both are good reads and gives us something about EF's life prior to USA. Of course they are all secondary sources as are everything these days….
    The Young Errol Flynn Before Hollywood
    John Hammond Moore (1st Pub 1975)
    Errol Flynn in Northampton
    Gerry Connelly · (1st Pub 1995)
    As an aside, re the film in question, the sources I have list it's first release date abroad as Sept 35. Here is a nice link:…

  6. Anonymous

    August 5, 2010 at 10:32 pm

    I wrote a reply to Brian's aqnd Tina's messages. I think it is lost in the ether. In short, I think it is great that Tina, Brian and others are paying such attention to Errol's life in England just before he came to the states. I think this is valuable for historic reasons. Also, the more we can find out about Errol the better. I think he was most probably very ambitious, but he tended to hide this aspect of his personality (as well as other aspects). I am a very, very pro- Errol person,and I think the more we can understand about him the better. There are aspects about him I have never fully understood ( his steady deterioration after his rape trial, for example). He truly was an enigma- perhaps with further info., he will be less so. Kevin K.

  7. Anonymous

    August 7, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    Hi Patricia,
    Yes, I have both books; they are essential reads. Being English I have a particular fondness of the Connolly book.

  8. Anonymous

    August 7, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    Hi Kevin,
    I'm in complete agreement with your views. The young Flynn who hit London after leaving Erben must have been extremely ambitious. I get the impression that Errol trod on a few toes to make his way up the ladder. Nothing new there that was Errol's way wherever he went.
    As to the Flynn character, yes, there are aspects that are very difficult to come to terms with. I guess I am still trying to come to terms with certain things. Flynn's words on his own 'contradiction' have so much bearing.
    best wishes,
    That is perhaps one of the reasons I have always been very drawn to Errol's words on the 'contradiction' in his nature.

  9. Anonymous

    August 9, 2010 at 11:50 am

    Just to put forward a little more information, (although some of this information has all the hallmarks of guesswork to it) on the foundations of the Flynn/Knowles friendship.
    Patricia Warren's 'Elstree: The British Hollywood.' mentions Knowles starring in a film called 'The Student's Romance' where “…Some early fencing scenes had been dubbed by a young man who was at that time busy commuting between Northampton Repertory Company and Teddington Studios…”
    According to the BFI book of British films 1927-39 filming of 'The Student's Romance' began in March 1935 which would rule Flynn out but it does make you wonder where Warren got that kind of information from and perhaps there are some elements of truth to the story.
    Looking over Knowles film career of this period we have a film called 'Irish Hearts' filmed in July 1934. With a name like Flynn, Errol would seem ideal casting for such a film (even in a non-speaking part). July 34 would put Flynn at the Malvern Festival playing a variety of roles but his most significant would be the role of a Roman Guard in John Drinkwaters 'A Man's House'.
    Errol claims, wrongly, in My Wicked Wicked Ways that two his Malvern plays made it to the West End. A Man's House and The Moon and the Yellow River.
    The Drinkwater play did indeed make it to the West End but Denis Johnson's 'The Moon and Yellow River' did not. Errol goes on to tell the story of rushing across London in the Roman outfit and having to change quickly into the outfit of an Irish Cop.
    We know the story of the two plays is not true but perhaps the story itself does have that element of truth, wasn't it John Hammond Moore who said that 'there is a germ of truth in all Flynn's stories'?
    Perhaps Flynn rushed from Malvern to London or vice-versa for his role in the Drinkwater play and maybe a small film role as an Irish Cop, which brings me back to Irish Hearts.
    I haven't seen Irish Hearts but I am on the lookout for it as it wouldn't surprise me in the least if Errol was in it somewhere and perhaps the Flynn/Knowles friendship began in London before either man had made it to Hollywood.
    best wishes,

  10. john walter skinner

    March 16, 2013 at 8:11 pm

    Firstly,as a new reader congratulations on this fabulous website! I am fascinated by this particular thread on Errol’s early career,especially his spell in London just before he went to the States in1934. Abdul the Damned is new to me but worth some research. Distinguished British director Val Guest states in his autobiography that Errol was at Northampton WHILE making Murder at Monte Carlo. Of course geographically this was impossible but an interesting titbit nonetheless. In one of the leading family history sites they have ships passenger records for Errol’s voyage to the States in 1934 aboard SSParis(?). This makes fascinating reading – though it’s a known fact Merle Oberon was aboard, Louis Hayward was also there which is news to me….Have also uncovered some information about a picture Errol is supposed to have made here,THIRD DEGREE,but am keeping quiet about this as I plan to use it in a planned photo book on Errol…Once again thanks for the data on Abdul…

    • john walter skinner

      March 18, 2013 at 3:41 pm

      Have just checked some reliable British reference works and find it unlikely that dear ERROL was in ABDUL THE DAMNED – he filmed his breakthrough British picture MURDER AT MONTE CARLO at exactly the same time (October 1934) that ABDUL was in production at Elstree. An interesting observation, none the less, is PATRIC KNOWLES who appears to have been discovered by Warners around the same time as ERROL; would be very interesting to compile some sort of itinery of ERROL’S known activities around this time…

      • Inga

        March 18, 2013 at 4:56 pm

        Hi John, thank you for your very interesting input and thoughts! Maybe the upcoming Chronology by Mr Florczak will shed some light upon this? May I ask what book you plan to write, John, or is it a secret?

        • john walter skinner

          March 20, 2013 at 3:27 pm

          Having said all this I can see the interest in ABDUL, in particular the photo used here-the guy with the spear (left) facially looks uncannily like ERROL, though I think his build is not muscular enough. Inga, I have plans for a book on ERROL but it’s in it’s early stages,would like to reproduce some of the photos in my collection.It’s this 1933/34 London episode in ERROL’S career that interests me so much.Was he helped? Whatever connections he made, within a few months his achievements were quite remarkable….

          • Inga

            March 21, 2013 at 5:11 pm

            John, this will be a most interesting book, especially as not much is known about this period. I went to London some time ago to see the two schools, but am not sure if I found the right places and if there really is a connection. Maybe you could have a look at the article, it can be found in the category “Blog Author’s Travels”?

  11. john walter skinner

    March 25, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    Hi there! Inga,I am of course aware that ERROL went to school at St Paul’s Hammersmith in London but don’t know any further details – believe he atteneded another one in West London called Caselnau in Barnes; St Paul’s has a the way,though I don’t think it’s very hot on an Old Boys listing…
    Have got some interesting news from research re Errol’s stage play THE MOON IN THE YELLOW RIVER-this play was,indeed,performed at the Westminster Theatre,London in October 1934,though the play we can confirm Errol was in, A MAN’S HOUSE, appeared to have ended after a short run. Though we know that ERROL was in the Malvern Festival production of MOON ITYR-he took the role of Commandent Lonigan, I

    • john walter skinner

      March 25, 2013 at 2:54 pm

      contd./ i can’t confirm he was in the London production…The British Times Newspaper has a terrific Archive online and this is where I got this data,I am sure some of you out there may hold this information already,of course…

      • Inga

        March 26, 2013 at 5:40 pm

        Thanks for the update, John!! Yes, that school was called Castelnau, if you see any chance for further research there, it’d be wonderful if you could share your findings!

        • john walter skinner

          April 5, 2013 at 1:06 pm

          The British trade paper KINEMATOGRAPH WEEKLY used to carry excellent quality photos of British movies in production/on release etc and ABDUL THE DAMNED may have featured in them – getting hold of copies is another matter…
          Have done a bit of basic research regarding Errol’s appearance in “The Moon In The Yellow River” and he doesn’t appear to have been in the London production after all. Indeed the play was at the Westminster Theatre,Victoria,London but Errol’s name doesn’t feature in the castlist. Arounf 1970 I asked the actor RICHARD CALDICOT who was with ERROL in A MAN’S HOUSE and he doesnt think Errol was in this play either.

          • Inga

            April 7, 2013 at 12:33 pm

            Hm… very interesting! Looking forward to more of your findings, John!

          • themainflynnman

            April 8, 2013 at 4:06 pm

            I’ve scoured through Abdul the Damned and can see no sign of Errol in there.
            The problem with Kinematograph Weekly is that it is so hard to get hold of any of the rarer and older issues although I believe there is an archive of film magazines down in London that may well be of help. – Brian.

  12. Tina

    April 8, 2013 at 11:36 pm

    Hello to all Abdul investigators!

    I see there is new interest in Abdul! My information of Abdul the Damned originates from my investigation in 2010 of several sources like the archives of the Elstree Studio, BIP (British National Pictures Studios Ltd).and other knowledgeable people. It was a most tedious job. The information I finally received was that the movie was filmed in October 1934 and released in UK in 1935 and in the USA in 1936. No information of Errol’s participation.

    About Errol being in this movie as an Extra is a slight possibility as the timeframe fits, but there are some buts …..namely, Murder at Monte Carlo, a movie filmed also in 1934 (no exact date) and the UK release date was January 1935. He had a very good part in this movie. Would he go back as an Extra if he was one? Was Murder at Monte Carlo before Abdul the Damned or was it at the same time. Nothing new for Errol being in two plays at the same time; the Roman soldier and the Irish cop if you recall.

    There are maybe movies out there, if not destroyed in which Errol may have acted as an Extra. I can’t remember from where I have this information – it will come to me or you could help me – that Errol when ever possible getting away from Northampton was hanging around the movie studios, in particular at Warners. Was it to pick up work as an Extra or as a bit part player? Was it for the always needed extra cash or was it to get noticed? My guess he must have done it to get noticed, how otherwise would he have landed the part in his first Warner movie “Murder at Monte Carlo?”

    In Errol’s recollection MWWW Irving Asher came to see a performance – not stated which one. It apparently was at the time when after the Stratford-on-Avon Festival the two staged plays “The Moon and the Yellow River” and “A Man’s House” were selected to move to the West End. Errol thought his big chance had come but both shows only lasted two weeks and both flops. Did Irving Asher really discover Errol in one of the plays at the West End? Maybe – maybe not. Errol, the everlasting joker spins it of lightly in his usual sense of humor.

    One thing is sure, some serious efforts of being noticed somewhere, somehow must have surpassed to outshine something for Errol to get his big start. Exactly what or how is just about anybodies guess. But of the top of my head I would say it had to be Errol’s efforts. If not hanging around the studios, playing Extras and bit parts how did he get the part in “Murder at Monte Carlo?” Anybody – any thoughts? Any experts?

    Yet if one looks at his attitude toward theatre and film at that time it clearly shows that he actually preferred the theatre in this period of his life.
    In his own words: “It was fashionable in the theatre to leer down at the films as the traditional theatre was august, but I didn’t look down my nose at the offer entirely (Asher’s offer). I wanted to see Hollywood. Very well, I’d go for a few months and return before long to the legitimate theatre in England.”

    Mind you, Errol in a way did start as a star way back in ‘The Wake of the Bounty” and most important not to forget the words of Irving Asher’s secretary when Irving spoke to her about Errol’s possible star qualities. She said: “But Mr. Asher he already is a Star!”

    Correction of my mistake:
    We all know Errol didn’t leave England until the end of the year of 1934 and thanks to Robert Florczak we know now that it was November 14, 1934 so he was living in England during filming BUT NOT at the time of the release of both movie “Abdul the Damned” and “Murder in Monte Carlo”.

    Talking about departure and arrival dates Errol did arrive in New York November 20th and in Hollywood January of 1935 and rises to fame in December 1935 with Captain Blood. And as always with Errol there has to be a little confusion. Question is, when did he really arrive in Hollywood? In his own words: It was the beginning of 1935. I was twenty six now. Arriving in January 1935 is correct but he was only 25 1/2 years old.
    Please ignore the last two paragraphs I had a glitch in my cerebral functions. LOL

    We all know Errol didn’t leave England until the end of the year of 1935 and thanks to Robert Florczak we know now that it was November 14, 1935 so he was living in England during filming and the time of the release of both movie “Abdul the Damned” and “Murder in Monte Carlo”.

    Talking about departure and arrival dates Errol did arrive in New York November 20th and in Hollywood January of 1936 and rises to fame in December 1936 with Captain Blood. And as always with Errol there has to be a little confusion. Question is, when did he really arrive in Hollywood? In his own words: It was the beginning of 1935. I was twenty six now. One of these two statements is wrong and yet it is printed in his most famous book!


      April 9, 2013 at 3:59 am

      Your information is interesting except that “Captain Blood” premiered in 1935, not 1936. And we all know that Errol was in two films filmed in Hollywood before “Captain Blood”; those two films being “Case of the Curious Bride” and “Don’t Bet on Blondes”! Both released in 1935 and both in production in early 1935.–A. R.

      • Tina

        April 10, 2013 at 6:20 pm

        Hi A.R.!
        Oh god – yeah and thank you for the correction – silly me and I know all that! How on earth could I do that? In particular just trying to come back after many month of absence. The chemo and radiation treatments in the last months must have fogged up my brain. LOL
        I knew about the “Case of the Curious Bride” and “Don’t Bet on Blondes” but meant that with “Captain Blood” he had risen to stardom in December 1935. All my dates are out for a year and I know the correct ones. I think I made my typo in Robert’s date – November 14, 1935, which should have been November 14, 1934 and from there on I just typed without thinking not realizing my mistake being out for a year. UGH! Very sorry!

        • ILIKEFLYNN

          April 11, 2013 at 11:08 pm

          OMG! Think nothing of it, Tina Every body makes mistakes. We’re only human! To go off topic for a moment, if I may. In my opinion what you have gone through and survived males you a heroine in my mind at least, in the manner of Maid Marion and Arabella Bishop Blood.. God Bless you, Tina! You are one of the rare ones!–A. R.

          • Tina

            April 12, 2013 at 5:11 pm

            Hi A.R.!
            Thank you so very much for your ever so kind words. It sure was a very tough and rough time but I am no heroine, but ever so kind of you to say so. It is amazing to see how many people are affected of this dreadful disease and have to go through the harsh side effects. I am not completely back to normal but I hope to make a full recovery, so god willing. God bless you too!

    • David DeWitt

      April 10, 2013 at 12:28 pm

      Great comment, Tina! Wonderful comments and research by everybody on this thread, too!

      • Tina

        April 10, 2013 at 6:26 pm

        Hi David;
        Thank you and it’s good to be back even with a “year out error”. I hope all is well with you and I thank you very much for your support during my ordeal, which was very appreciated.

        • David DeWitt

          April 11, 2013 at 2:03 am

          Tina! I am so happy you are back and doing great! I have been well, jumping around a bit – Hawaii, Hollywood, and now Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where I expect to be living for at least a year …

          • Tina

            April 12, 2013 at 5:20 pm

            Hi David;
            Thank you so much! I am not quite fully there yet but hope to be in a few weeks, it’s the side effects I still have to overcome.
            Wow, you sure move around and it’s wonderful to see that you are able to do it and enjoy these wonderful sites.
            I wish you all the very best!

            • David DeWitt

              April 12, 2013 at 5:39 pm

              Tina! You will overcome the side effects and be strong and healthy again! Every cancer survivor is a hero or heroine to others facing similar obstacles and I you are one of those heroines to me right now! You may think you just did what had to be done but it is more than that to others – it is a hopeful sign that others can overcome and survive their illnesses, too! Hugs, d~

              • Tina

                April 12, 2013 at 6:14 pm

                Hi David;
                You are so right in all aspects and that there is always hope and a good survival rate. At present I am one of them and I wish this good luck to anyone who is suffering of it.
                No doubt that there is great hope that others will overcome and survive that dreadful illnesses too. Lets all wish those who are suffering god’s blessings to become heroes and heroines.
                Hugs – Tina

    • john walter skinner

      April 10, 2013 at 2:04 pm

      Hi Tina et al!!
      Researching ERROL’S activities here in England in 1933/1934 is a fascinating yet frustrating mosaic of various actvities.The only thing we can be sure of is whatever he did here and the contacts he made in London and the provinces assured him of megastar status all within 2 years of arriving here as a total unknown person let alone obscure actor.We are discussing for example the question mark that he was a film extra.It’s very rare for a guy to be hired to star in a movie- MURDER AT MONTE CARLO-to have been plucked from the ranks of filmextradom-this very rarely happens,the only two examples of this were RAY MILLAND and DAVID NIVEN. GEORGE SANDERS I have read was in London around the same time as ERROL,but George did have radio work ,movies and theatre behind him before being signed by Fox in Hollywood. In the fall of 1934 everything happened so quickly to ERROL and his career by mid-November 1934 he was on his way to the States on SSPARIS and eventual megastardom.This could have been even before MURDER AT MONTE CARO opened in British cinemas-it was never shown in the States.Full credit in the meantime must be given to IRVING ASHER for discovering ERROL here-is there evidence that ERROL ever did a general screentest??

      • Tina

        April 10, 2013 at 7:19 pm

        Hi John:
        I know how frustrating it was for me to find out things just for “Abdul” alone and it is interesting to see your train of thoughts about Errol’s fast rise to stardom also about the other actors. Of course at that time Hollywood was always looking for great looking actors they could mold into stars and England was a great hunting ground..
        You say – .It’s very rare for a guy to be hired to star in a movie as in MURDER AT MONTE CARLO to have been plucked from the ranks of film extras. Yes, this is exactly what I mean but it must have happened as he, as you say and we all know, was only an obscure actor
        at that. He must have had the Irish wind in his back – hahaha! Of course one must not forget his looks, which was obviously a springing point and the camera loved him.
        Still there are a lot of unanswered questions to the real “How” Did Irving Asher really come to the theatre in the West End as stated in MWWW to notice Errol? I doubt that very much. I rather think that Errol did something extraordinary and he was good at that at any time to be noticed by Irving Asher. He had to have been frequently at the Warner studios to know who is who and what is what. But what did he do at the studio as there are only positions of Extras and bit players are available unless you are an actor of substance, which at the time he was not. One also must not forget that Errol was eager to succeed, although by character a “happy-go-lucky” person he also was ambitious. Most likely to please his father to amount to something. To please his father was quite important to Errol.
        The question remains, what did Errol do at the Warner studio if not an Extra? Did he get the part of Dyter in MURDER AT MONTE CARLO out of the blue?
        Anybody out there with any thoughts?

        • Inga

          April 11, 2013 at 12:37 pm

          I seem to recall that he was noticed by a woman? Wasn’t it Asher’s wife? I think you don’t need much fantasy to imagine the rest… she saw him, made his acquaintance, and…

          • Tina

            April 12, 2013 at 5:55 pm

            Hi Inga;
            You make me laugh! May I finish your sentence – and,,,, the rest was history!
            Maybe it was Asher’s wife? Maybe I should read some of my books again! With Errol all things are possible!
            Great to converse with you again on the blog!
            My very best wishes to you!

            • Inga

              April 13, 2013 at 3:35 pm

              Agreed, Tina! And see, you are back and things get moving again!

        • john walter skinner

          May 1, 2013 at 1:54 pm

          Some of this stuff may have been discussed on earlier threads. Have been doing some idle research of ERROL IN LONDON 1933 and have made some interesting discoveries. FLYNN SCHOLARS please take note of the following movies; – THE BERMONDSEY KID(1933) and THE SCOTLAND YARD MYSTERY(1934). ERROL may have been an EXTRA in both of them….BERMONDSEY KID is fascinating because I got this title from 2 sources,years apart. In Brighton ,England, in the mid 1970s I was semi acqainted with John Montgomery,who,to cut a long story short had been a publicist at Warners Teddington in the 1930s and we were talking about ERROL for some reason and he suddenly came out with the comment that he had been in THE BERMONDSEY KID. I didnt react too much since I thought, as usual,someone had come up with the wrong info….ANYWAY,in more recent years the British director VAL GUEST has written his memoirs and said that ERROL had some connection with this movie. So there we are. Too much of a coincidence? What we have to do,of course,is find a copy of the movie. What is helpful to us is that the picture was produced by IRVING ASHER, directed by RALPH DAWSON,who later won an Oscar as editor of ROBIN HOOD,in Hollywood,and 2 of the cast members co-starred with ERROL in MURDER AT MONTE CARLO.The latter movie,by the way,is now officially lost……and now to SCOTLAND YARD MYSTERY. This is in fact the release title to a picture that shot under the title THIRD DEGREE , this title has baffled FLYNN scholars for years since ERROL lists it in his Spotlight Casting Director entry,unaware of the eventual title change……And there we have it. If we GOOGLE Scotland Yard there appears to be the movie available to be screened,but for some reason it doesnt happen…
          Hopefully more clues for you out there covering the fascinating 14 months ERROL spent in London and UK 1933/1934… —- john