Errol’s inside joke to his father

11 Nov

In 1938, biologist Theodore Thomson Flynn served as the Chair of Zoology at Queen’s University of Belfast. That same year, hI frame>, actor Errol Flynn, gave one of his best performances in the World War I drama “The Dawn Patrol”. Near the climax of the film, Errol made what appears to be an inside joke to his father. And perhaps says something about himself in the process.

Here’s a link to the scene.

— zacal


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  1. Lollie

    November 11, 2013 at 9:15 am

    What a wonderful scene.I really like how Errol seemed to say / ad lib lines in some of his movies that seemed very personal to him.Some of his lines in The Sisters,for example,seem to be very much that,like he is really talking about himself Errol Flynn and not his character in the movie.What a brilliant man and actor. :)

    • Inga

      November 11, 2013 at 6:33 pm

      I think this goes most for him in EMN and even in Lilacs…

      • Lollie

        November 12, 2013 at 9:23 am

        Agreed for both Inga.You know,Lilacs In The Spring is the Errol movie that surprised me the most,I thought it would be along the lines of King’s Rhapsody where he wasn’t in it all that much & when he wasn’t it was fairly boring …but Lilacs surprised me so much,the story is great and best of all Errol is in it pretty much the whole time.I really,really love him in that movie. :)

  2. Tim

    November 12, 2013 at 10:52 pm

    Great post & observations, zacal. Being the preeminent biologist/zoologist he was, Professor Flynn would certainly know a thing or two about the behavior of the human animal, and especially so about feisty ones that hopped around a lot, like Errol. For example, here’s some of his superb early work on the kangaroo.…

    No wonder Errol was so very proud of his father. He was quite a brilliant and accomplished man.


    • zacal

      November 12, 2013 at 11:26 pm

      Thank you for the kind words, Tim. AND for the unique information on Professor Flynn. I’m only guessing, of course, but I believe the second part of the line (“Man is a savage animal who, periodically, to relieve his nervous tension, tries to destroy himself.”) was in the script and that Errol merely substituted/added the detail about his father being “Professor of biology at Queens.” It doesn’t alter the intent of the original line(If, in fact, that was the original line) and lends a certain gravity to the observation. But, of course, it’s only a guess.

      • Tim

        November 13, 2013 at 3:06 am

        Intriguing question and analysis, zacal! Hard to tell where Errol stopped ad libbing. Maybe there’s evidence in the original (1930) version with Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.

        It’s fascinating to me that the Warners put out such a major anti-war film after Hitler had already begun his march through Europe. Of course, it wasn’t much longer before Flynn was dramatically condemning the Nazis in South America, inter alia, and making transparently pro-war films like Sea Hawk & Dive Bomber. But Dawn Patrol took a different tack, one (if I am recalling & interpreting correctly) essentially leaning against fighting again in Europe.


        • zacal

          November 13, 2013 at 7:59 pm

          “The Dawn Patrol” is one of my favorite Flynn films. Remakes were quite common in the thirties. (Few people realize that “The Maltese Falcon” starring Bogart was the SECOND remake of the Dashiell Hammett novel.) The original Dawn Patrol was good but suffered from early sound problems. Flynn’s remake is superior and his chemistry with David Niven is simply incredible. What a team! A pity that Niven was unable to portray Will Scarlett in “The Adventures of Robin Hood”.(as he was originally slated to) Patric Knowles was terrific but Flynn and Niven had that special chemistry. I could easily imagine them in the Cary Grant/Douglas Fairbanks roles in “Gunga Din”.

          • Tim

            November 14, 2013 at 1:44 am

            Great chemistry indeed, zacal! … And great points!



            • zacal

              November 14, 2013 at 4:18 am