What was the original idea of Jack Warner to groom Errol into?

19 Nov


Errol arriving fresh from England to conquer Hollywood!

In the Golden Age of Hollywood when starlets were taken under contract the first thing studios did was to establish how to fit them into a mold to suit their movie making plans. Grooming, reinventing and molding them was prime!
So what did Jack Warner had in mind with Errol?

— Tina


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  1. Gentleman Tim

    November 19, 2014 at 11:02 pm

    Early on, of course, Tina, Flynn was being packaged by at least one Warner Brother rep (Sam Clarke of Chicago) as “an Irishman, fresh from Ireland”. That may have been Jack Warner’s initial plan, too. I think, however, that JW changed any plans he may have personally had quickly after meeting Errol. Likely, Errol himself would have been lobbying for parts other than the part contemplated by the early promotional photo of him as an “Irish motorcycle cop”. Being the uniquely powerful force of nature he was, his amazing personality, physicality, athleticism, talents, sex appeal, and ambition, would have certainly, IMO, soon convinced Warner to slate him for much bigger things.

    Being that there really wasn’t very much of him in any pre-Hollywood films available to fully evaluate his future, there were probably some debates among executives what to do with him. Then along came Captain Blood, and the rest is history.


    • Tina

      November 20, 2014 at 6:49 pm

      You Win Tim! I must get more tricky!
      The early promotional photos of Errol are portraying him as an “Irish motorcycle cop”.
      Plus, Jack Warner made him Irish – like it or not – “Irish you are”. And that’s how Errol became Irish!
      It would be nice to see any of those early promotional Irish motorcycle cop pictures.

      • Gentleman Tim

        November 21, 2014 at 1:53 am

        Thanks, Tina. Looking at all the great answers to this excellent quiz of yours, I’d say we all win. The range of roles and personas so possible and considered by all the big wigs in Burbank really confirm just how tremendous and tremendously versatile Errol was. …. And, if Hollywood wrongly overlooked him, he could have always gone on to win the U.S. Open! Flynn was the man!

        Like it or not – Irish you are. Too funny!!

        And then they made his cruise-mate Merle from Tasmania! Too much!! (I think many, if not most, people still confuse Tasmania with Tanzania )


    November 20, 2014 at 3:49 am

    I think it is fair to say that when Errol arrived in Hollywood, the studio had no idea what to do with him. I think the perfect example of Warner not knowing what to do with Errol, is the story of when J.L. was asked should they send Errol over from England, his response was, Sure send “her” over. I believe what also illustrates the point is the first few roles he was given. First as a corpse, then as the butt of a joke in “Don’t Bet on Blondes”! It’s a known fact that Errol spent most of his time playing tennis while he waited for the studio to use him and that it was Lili who kept lobbying Warner (thru his mistress) for roles for Errol. The fortuitous moment when Warner was unable to secure the services of Robert Donat and realized that they had their own version of a British “he-guy”, was when Errol (with a little help from Curtiz and Rathbone) finally got his moment to shine and the rest is history!-A. R.

    • Tina

      November 20, 2014 at 6:55 pm

      I like that – Sure send “her” over.
      Very funny – in one way!

  3. zacal

    November 20, 2014 at 3:54 am

    Given that it was the early thirties and swashbucklers were out of favor, I’ve got to imagine Warner would think “Well spoken Englishman gentleman”. So my first thought is Ronald Colman. Big star in silent films who was the first actor to make a “splash” in sound films, thanks to “Bulldog Drummond”.(1929) [img][/img][img][/img]

    • Tina

      November 20, 2014 at 7:01 pm

      Hi zacal;
      “Well spoken Englishman gentleman”.
      I like that, which Errol really was.
      But no, they tried to make an – Irish motorcycle cop – out of him.

    • shangheinz

      November 27, 2014 at 2:06 pm

      Here`s Tiger Lill` holding on to Ronald Coleman as to dear life. Soon movie goers would embrace Errol instead of RC. Whatever happened to him, after Errol became Warner Bros.`poster Boy No. 1?

  4. shangheinz

    November 20, 2014 at 10:01 am

    Well in those days the studios had their rosters, very like a major league team. And even the most gifted or handsomest were put on a shelf, sitting there and had to wait their turn. Even Errol after his initial succcesses had his big break only when another big name turned down the tights. After that Warner knew what he had in Errol, The baron had hit the hearts of movie masses.bullseye.

    • Tina

      November 20, 2014 at 6:37 pm

      Hi Heinz;
      You are so right and very well put “A Major League Team” that what it was.
      I never understood how Warner thought that Robert Donat would have made a good Captain Blood?!?
      Don’t get me wrong, I like Robert Donat but as a Captain Blood ??? I would have great doubts. I would say he was an entirely different character.
      Captain Blood fitted Errol to a TEE!

      • shangheinz

        November 21, 2014 at 8:47 pm

        Warner Bros. as far as I know, for long wasn`t the top dog on the lot. Initially they were banking on crime stories. For example it is a sheer miracle that Casblance became this phenomenal success, if you read all the stories about what went on during filming. Much of it is the work of Michael Curtiz. Then there were casting changes- Bogie instead of Ronnie, Bergmann instead of Lamarr. And there were switches in the story and most of all, a different ending. I think Jack Warner never had much clue how to use Errol properly, even after and because of his proven marketability. Matter of fact, Errol was given inferior film material, counting on his stardom to sell any film that came up at the time.

        • Tina

          November 22, 2014 at 9:40 pm

          Hi Heinz;
          I think you hit the nail on the head! Very good analysis!
          Take care!

          • shangheinz

            November 23, 2014 at 10:01 pm

            Thank you Tina, for that inspiring post.

    • timerider

      November 23, 2014 at 5:27 pm

      “Cag” would not have made the greatest renditon of Robin Hood as we know it! Thanks Zacal for that Coleman moment! I’m having weird thoughts and maybe nightmares about Errol as an Irish motorcycle cop, LOL! Now a fighten Irish boxer may have had more appeal.