The Sword of Villon – Errol’s Last Swashbuckler

11 Nov

Thank You to Ralph for the Information & Inspiration Leading to This Post!

The Sword of Villon – Errol’s Last Swashbuckler – Filmed for TV at Hal Roach Studios in 1956.

Based on the Life and Adventures of Renowned 15th Century French “Poet, Thief & Patriot” Francois Villon.…

Along the Lines of The Adventures of Robin Hood & Don Juan. Sounds Perfect for Flynn!

Hal Roach Introduced the Show with the Following:

A Tale of Derring-Do
Of Lords and Ladies
– and Scoundrels, too




John Barrymore played Villon in 1927’s The Beloved Rogue, which can be seen in at this YouTube link:


— Tim


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  1. zacal

    November 11, 2014 at 5:36 am

    Wait…WHAT??? Flynn played Villon? Great info. I absolutely LOVE “The Beloved Rogue”. (It’s one of the best surviving prints of the silent era.) The influence of Barrymore on Flynn is incredible. Too bad Errol didn’t remake “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”.

    • Gentleman Tim

      November 11, 2014 at 8:51 am

      Just been watching it (for the first time), zacal. How right you are! It’s incredibly good!! And baby Barrymore, at ~4:30 in, could pass for baby Flynn!! – adored by all the ladies even as an infant. …. Errol should have put on his resume and/or in Wicked Wicked Ways that his first role was Baby Villon in The Beloved Villon!!!

      • zacal

        November 11, 2014 at 6:44 pm

        Slightly off topic but I generally recommend people watch silent films with music which they themselves enjoy. Often times the soundtracks included are cheap.(Sometimes they’re very good but those tend to be “important” pictures that have been restored) Whether you decide to watch a silent film with classical music or modern music, you’ll be surprised how your choice tends to support and enhance the film you’re watching.

  2. zacal

    November 11, 2014 at 5:37 am


    • zacal

      November 11, 2014 at 5:39 am

      And here’s Barrymore. This was a brilliant moment of acting that showed just how good Barrymore was.


  3. shangheinz

    November 11, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    Errol would have thrived on that role!

    • Robert

      November 12, 2014 at 2:46 am

      I have Errol’s version of this on VHS. It was available for a while in the late 1990s. It’s great to see Errol in his final swashbuckling role (of course, not including at least one role in the Errol Flynn Theatre – filmed around the same time as this in 1956). He looks a little heavy around the waist and in the face but still gives an energetic performance and even has a brief sword fight at the beginning!

  4. twinarchers

    November 12, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    These photos don’t do anything for me


  5. Hugh Davis

    November 12, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    It was TCM’s airing of this episode of _Screen Director’s Playhouse_ (directed by, of all people, George Waggner) that rekindled my interest in Flynn and got me returning to his classic roles. His age does show, but Flynn clearly is having fun, and he makes a great Villon.

    I’d love to see Flynn in “1,001 Nights of Don Juan” from his own show, as I’m guessing that’s a great final “stab” at that swashbuckling role.

  6. rswilltell

    November 12, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    The Beloved Rogue starring John Barrymore is truly a masterpiece. Jack was at the peak of his career. The Sword Of Villon (1956) with Errol Flynn is a wonderful final bow of the great actor in the genre he dominated for twenty years. Hillary Brooke is best remembered today for her work on the first season of The Abbott And Costello Show, and two films with the comedy team. In Sword Of Villon Brooke proves she was worth her slender weight in gold as Milady with a dagger, a hissing cobra if there ever was one! At least the copy offered on TCM of this episode was sharp and clear. For Errol all that was left were two good adventure films set in Istanbul and Havana, three drunk roles (perhaps his finest work dramtically), and one piece of trash shot in Cuba on a ten cent budget! Thanks Tim! Ralph

    • Gentleman Tim

      November 12, 2014 at 5:07 pm

      Man, you really know your stuff, Ralph!

      Here’s the swashbuckling Miss Brooke:


  7. shangheinz

    November 14, 2014 at 11:06 am…
    Who knew that Michael Curtiz tackled the exact subject in the same year as Errol? Who was first on first, Gent? May the empty horseman even have considered our Hollywood hero at a time for the main rogue…was Flynn only rehearsing the role on TV for a big screen return!?

  8. shangheinz

    November 14, 2014 at 11:07 am

    • Hugh Davis

      November 14, 2014 at 12:27 pm

      Since Curtiz’ film was of the operetta _Vagabond King_ (which he filmed as a movie musical), I’m thinking Flynn didn’t get considered, though he would have been a more charismatic leading man than the choice (the opera star Oreste Kirkop, who made just this one film). Curtiz’ film is lavish and has some nice moments, but it plods in some places.
      It’s interesting that Villon was having a sort of Renaissance in the 1950s–besides these two pieces, the Robert Louis Stevenson short story “A Lodging for the Night” (about the French poet) was made for early television three times over: with Robert Clarke on _My Favorite Story_, with Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. on his anthology series, and with Yul Brynner on _Omnibus_. If anyone has either of the last two, please let me know.

      • shangheinz

        November 14, 2014 at 3:25 pm

        Thanks for the huge info Hugh. I think whenever a remake of a Barrymore came up, Errol was all ears and sabers. It would have made a great reunion for the estranged couple of Curtiz and Flynn. A musical was probably the one and only vehicle at that time to still show a swashbuckler at that time, since it automatically implied a tounge in cheek attitude.

  9. rswilltell

    November 14, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    Hugh, the series Favorite Story was hosted by Adolphe Menjou and it was a wonderful show. The entire series is available for study at the University Of Wisconsin archives in Madison, Wisconsin. They have the entire library of ZIV-UA tv shows. I recently saw the episode of Favorite Story, The Gold Bug based on the Edgar Allan Poe short story. it was a gem. Ralph

    • Hugh Davis

      November 14, 2014 at 1:59 pm

      Thanks! I’ve managed to find a collection of _Favorite Story_ episodes that includes the Villon installment, though (particularly as an English teacher) I’d love to look at all of the series.

  10. shangheinz

    March 23, 2015 at 2:35 pm

    Here is Curtiz` villonous full length feature film :…
    Let me know, dear fellow Flynn fans, if Errol would have fit right in.

    • Hugh Davis

      March 23, 2015 at 2:54 pm

      Except for a song-and-dance bit in _Stage Door Canteen_, does Flynn ever sing on film? I think he’d have been great in a longer version of the Villon story (perhaps a remake of Barrymore’s _Beloved Rogue_), but I wonder about him in the operetta. The “Sword of Villon” does make a nice coda on his career, but it would have been nice for him to have one more chance at cinematic spectacle, especially with Curtiz at the helm.

      –Hugh Davis