The perfect Flynn Girl?

08 Feb

I sometimes make mental lists of which actresses I would have liked to have seen play opposite Errol, and at the top is Eleanor Parker. The Canadian Parker was a classical, almost aristocratic beauty, given spice by her incredible slanted eyes, the colour of Anatolian waters, and her tumbling hair that reminds one of a winter sunset. She could dance, fight, play a queen or a serving wench with equal aplomb, was a fine comedienne and with her curves like the hull of the Zaca, looked sensational in a period costume, even when it bordered on the camp.

She starred in only one swashbuckler, a film we have been discussing –  Scaramouche – as the fiery on-off love interest of Stewart Granger. Able as Granger was in this picture (and in my view it was his best; with the exceptional six minute fencing match), he was a bit of a one-note as an actor and never quite did it for me in the boudoir department. How I wish it had been Errol sparring with Eleanor in glorious technicolour and exaggerated 18th Century costumes.

Eleanor Parker in Scaramouche

As a performer, Parker was streets ahead of 50s bombshells like Ava Gardner and Janet Leigh. A very distinguished actress, Parker was Oscar nominated more than once. She should have won for Interrupted Melody (1955), in which she played the crippled soprano Marjorie Lawrence, opposite Glenn Ford and a young Roger Moore.

Interrupted Melody

It is the best operatic biopic ever made, in my view (aside from The Great Caruso), and she gives a stellar and harrowing performance. See it if you can. I think it is on DVD.

Eleanor as Isolde

Parker also played Kirk Douglas’s troubled wife in Detective Story, a mid-50s noir – sadly, it was more grey than noir. She was also put in a second-rate Egyptian ‘adventure’, with an ageing Robert Taylor, called Valley Of the Kings (how very original.)

Had Eleanor been born ten years earlier she would have been a major star, but the more simplistic, epics with a moral, family-orientated Hollywood of the 1950s didn’t really know what to do with her.

It’s a shame that she is chiefly remembered now for playing the Baroness in The Sound of Music.

As the Baroness, with Christopher Plummer


What a gorgeous pair she and Errol would have made….


— PW


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

  1. Gentleman Tim

    February 9, 2017 at 8:52 am

    Just checking to see if you’ve considered this potential candidate for PBG, PW?…

    • PW

      February 9, 2017 at 9:32 am

      Yes, I have considered Maureen O’Hara, but though she appeared in a film with Errol, Against All Flags, I didn’t think the chemistry shot off the screen. Also, and this is just a matter of personal taste, I find that a little of her goes a very long way. She ran the gamut of emotions from feisty to feisty.

      • Gentleman Tim

        February 9, 2017 at 12:23 pm

        But what about that hair – that flaming red hair – PW? Does that garner her a AAA Bond Girl rating, or a Junk Bond Girl rating??*


        * Just kidding, PW. Just riffing off of your hilarious MO’Hara comment from a few days ago.

        • Gentleman Tim

          February 9, 2017 at 1:10 pm

          Alrighty then, how about Errol’s Girl and model for Mad Men, Gita Hall?



  2. rswilltell

    February 9, 2017 at 2:14 pm

    PW; You are absolutely right about Eleanor Parker, perhaps the most under-rated star during Hollywood’s golden era. First she was a star at Warner Brothers before moving over to MGM where she became an even bigger star. I disagree with your view of the exciting adventure film “Valley of The Kings” (1955) opposite her leading man on and off screen Robert Taylor. I love Egyptian epics and this was great fun with a great deal of scenery. I also agree that Maureen O’Hara was over-rated as a star and actress. Yes she is great in “Hunchback Of Notre Dame” (1939) but I loathe her John Wayne films where all they do is bicker and battle. To me “The Quiet Man” (1955) is one long noisy, screaming argument and one wonders why John Wayne or any man would stand for the abusing her character does. I doff my hat in honor of Eleanor Parker! Ralph Schiller

    • The Zaca

      February 9, 2017 at 6:27 pm

      Meself, a huge fan of both Parker and O’Hara – the latter’s beauty was hard to top and she was far more talented IMHO than some think here….

      Parker highly underrated, I agree. Love the closing scene with her and Napolean in ‘Mouche. She carried the better part of that film, if you ask me.

    • PW

      February 10, 2017 at 9:21 pm

      I so agree with you about The Quiet Man. I wish to God they had been quiet – especially Ms O’Hara.
      I always found the film incredibly monotonous, and could never understand the fuss made about it.
      Moreover, the somewhat ‘romantic’ view of the IRA was, for a Brit like me, a bit hard to swallow.

  3. speedracer5

    February 9, 2017 at 7:15 pm

    Eleanor Parker and Errol Flynn did co-star in two films together: “Never Say Goodbye” and “Escape Me Never.”

    I agree that she would have been great in a swashbuckler. Perhaps sub Parker in for Brenda Marshall in “The Sea Hawk,” but Parker may have been too young at the time.

    I also think that Parker is from Ohio, not Canada.

    • Sergio

      February 9, 2017 at 10:35 pm

      What????? RS–is-NotTell-right…
      You say: ” I also agree that Maureen O’Hara was over-rated as a star and actress”……….
      OOOOH, Not so lad! She was absolutely fantastic and delicious in the “Quite Man” – She portrayed that character as is; hot strong redheaded Irish girl she was. Ford could not have picked a better female costar for Wayne, non better.
      This for me, is one of those films that I watch along side of Flynn films at least 2 to 3 times a year. In Fact I just watched the day before yesterday, and as always, fantastic! In fact I think the opposite; she was very under rated compared to some others who claimed the top roles of beauty’s of the golden age.
      Yet of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and even though I generally am not a one to chase redheads, she sure was one to behold! yum-yum…

      In as far as Parker, Ahh yes she too. Add to vavavoom,..Wolf Whistles, please!

    • Sergio

      February 9, 2017 at 10:50 pm

      Escape Me Never” is one I always try to Escape!!

      What a poor excuse for a Flynn movie that Jack (Warner) rushed out there!!!
      Every time I see that flick I think to myself, how in the hell did Errol not shoot JW?

      The only good things in it are the beautiful people, and only when press the hold button on TV remote in order to capture a still shot on screen, otherwise, its pure Crap-O-La… woof!

      • Gentleman Tim

        February 10, 2017 at 1:41 am

        I can’t imagine what your thinking, Sergio. Jack Warner went to great trouble and expense to get Errol those suspenders and accordian lessons.


    • PW

      February 10, 2017 at 9:16 pm

      Eleanor was indeed born in Ohio, but her parents were Canadian. She had a supporting role to Ida Lupino in ‘Never Say Goodbye’. Poor Ida is also made to wear what looks like a Bavarian beer keller costume. She and Errol look like overgrown members of the Hitler Youth.

  4. Gentleman Tim

    February 9, 2017 at 8:24 pm

    In the second half of this video, from ~0:59 – 2:00, she shows what a fine finean fighter she was:…

    • Sergio

      February 10, 2017 at 2:47 am

      LOL! GT – In looking at that wonderful outfit you point out. I wonder if JW was having a Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate the day he decided on that movie for Flynn, or could it have been a beer and a pretzel?

      • Gentleman Tim

        February 10, 2017 at 3:29 am

        Probably so, Sergio. And while the twisted JW was alone with his pretzel, the Swiss Miss Girl was probably out chasing Errol, as was Mrs. JW.


        • Sergio

          February 10, 2017 at 1:56 pm

          A picture tells a thousand words Genteel-Sahib. If she grabbed his hands any higher and closer, she would not have needed a bosom holder or in Germany they vas; “Stop’em Zeee Flap’em.
          And what an ecstatic smile she has – Thank God JW could not film her mind or there would have been two people working at the Pretzel- Schnitzel stand wearing the suspender outfit….

  5. Gentleman Tim

    February 10, 2017 at 1:33 am

    Having said all the above about the gorgeous Maureen O’Hara, I believe PW is correct about Eleanor. She was exquisitely beautiful and talented, and definitely would have made “The Perfect Bond Girl”.

    Coming out of my shell, I join The Turtles in proclaiming

    Eleanor, you’ve got a thing about you. Gee, I think you’re swell. I think I love you!…

    Thank you, PW, for pointing this out. I had never thought of Ekeanor bonding with Bond before. She would have been perfect, indeed.

    • Gentleman Tim

      February 10, 2017 at 1:57 am

      Oh my my, she was so beautiful



  6. The Zaca

    February 18, 2017 at 8:42 pm

    I had to watch Scaramouche again last night. Delightful, as always. And Wikipedia says this about their nearly 8 minute fencing duel, the longest ever filmed, and I still say – one heck of a feat – and btw, they did their own stunt work. No Buster Wiles here:

    Granger, who performed most of his stunts himself, took fencing lessons with Jean Heremans when preparing for the role.[3] The 8-minute-long duel in the theater between Granger and Ferrer took eight weeks of preparation, including memorizing eighty-seven fencing passes.[3] Filming this scene left Granger with a wrenched knee, a damaged shoulder, and an injured back.[3] Other accidents on set included Jean Simmons – who was visiting her husband Granger – almost receiving a sword in her face, and a chandelier hitting a mattress where Granger was supposed to lie.[3]

    Nina Foch, who appeared as Marie Antoinette, wore the same costume as Norma Shearer in MGM’s 1938 film.

    Eleanor Parker later said that Stewart Granger was the only person in her career that she did not get along with:

    It wasn’t a conflict between the two of us. Everyone disliked this man… Stewart Granger was a dreadful person, rude… just awful. Just being in his presence was bad. I thought at one point the crew was going kill him. Jean visited him on the set and would leave his dressing room in tears. He humiliated her. It was terrible. All of the dueling scenes in Scaramouche were wonderful though. I’ll give Granger credit for that. He didn’t

    know how to do any of that, but worked hard and learned. Mel Ferrer, his counterpart in the movie, was extremely adept at

    the swordplay, but was a gentleman. He could have taken advantage and upstaged Granger, the star, but he never did