Flynn Lines & Flynnish Lines

14 Mar

What are Flynn’s most famous lines and alleged lines? What are your favorites?

Here are six to kick off the post.

— Tim


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  1. PW

    March 14, 2017 at 6:55 pm

    Here I am in London on a lovely spring evening – warm enough to light a fire in Caligula’s heart.

    Who I am quoting?

    Re your post, noble Gentleman, is this a quiz or a vox pop?

    I have always loved the first quote, which is so obviously Errolian.

    The second one, ‘My job is to defy the normal’ , is a bit facile and sub-Wildean. Who is to judge what is ‘normal?’ I believe that Errol said it, though. But tell me if I am wrong.

    The third – ‘It is not what people say, etc’ – I am pretty certain is Errol, and it is so very true. It is perhaps one of the most incisive things a public figure ever said and, it is also moving. So, that is my personal fave.

    The whiskey and women quote is simply wonderful, but, sadly, Errol didn’t coin it. It was first said by Charles Maurice de Talleyrand, when he was French Ambassador to London in the early 19th Century.

    The quote about ‘a genius for living’ is very Flynn and very honest, but, again, it is very similar to many of Oscar Wilde’s aphorisms.

    (Incidentally, I believe Flynn read a great deal of Wilde, who was also an ‘outsider’ and a much misunderstood, self-destructive figure. Nor was Wilde a homosexual until late in life – and probably chiefly out of a desire to try everything. He had been very keen on girls from a young age, and married one of the most beautiful women in England. They had two ravishing sons, Cyril and Vyvyan, whom he adored.)

    The final quote is a bit pedestrian, and not up to Flynnian standards. If you ran it up a flag, I don’t think many aphorists would salute it.

    Two of my own favourite Flynn lines are, in no particular order:-

    1. ‘They’ve great respect for the dead in Hollywood, but none for the living’

    2. ‘Any man who has $10,000 left when he dies is a failure.’

    • Gentleman Tim

      March 15, 2017 at 7:16 am

      Merci beaucoup my Right Honourable and Learned Flynnmate, for this uniquely percipient insight and Wilde information.

      Though not intended as a quiz, nor a lady-on-the-street interview, perhaps we can call it a Vox Pop Quiz, PW. If that’s what it is, you are off to an early lead.

      One notable difference between Gentleman Flynn and Oscar Gone Wilde was that Flynn believed in the Marquess of Queensbury Rules, whereas Bosey and O.W. did not.



      • PW

        March 15, 2017 at 7:18 pm

        Queensbury didn’t believe in the Queensbury Rules, either. By the time he starting hounding Oscar, whom he had initially tried to cultivate, he was clinically insane and as vicious as a rabid dog.

        He had already committed murder, while not observing his own rules (he got away with ‘manslaughter’, and paid off the family), and the note he left at Oscar’s club was not that of a well man. He was unable to spell correctly.

        All Oscar’s sensible friends told him to ignore the ridiculous missive. It was the awful Bosie – a complete shit if ever there was one – who decided to use the all too pliable and not so Wilde to get back at his father, whom he had hated since childhood. He therefore encouraged Oscar to sue for criminal libel.

        When Wilde lost, the same sensible friends, led by Robbie Ross and Ada Leverson, urged him to do what Errol might have done had he lost his own trial – leave the country as fast as possible.

        But Oscar’s narcissistic and loopy mother, Lady Wilde, or ‘Speranza’ as was her chosen nome de plume, insisted that her son ‘stay and face the music.’

        What followed was not only a tragedy for Oscar, but for his wife Constance and their two boys, Cyril and Vyvyan.

        Constance initially took the view that she should stick by her husband, but was pressurised into divorcing him, and changing her surname and that of the children from Wilde to Holland (an old family name on her side). She went to live abroad and died in Genoa of multiple sclerosis aged only 39.

        Cyril was killed in action during the First World War. Vyvyan Holland, who was awarded an OBE and died in 1967, wrote a very moving memoir entitled ‘Son of Oscar Wilde.’

        His own son, Merlin Holland, Oscar’s only grandchild, is a delightful man who has written and edited a series of books about his grandfather.

        In 2003, he published the most comprehensive account of the events leading up to Queensbury’s note, as well as the first uncensored transcripts of the trials. The book is called ‘Irish Peacock and Scarlet Marquess: The Real Trial of Oscar Wilde.’

        Lord Alfred Douglas went on to marry Olive Custance, an heiress and poet, though she left him soon after he ‘got religion’ and converted to Roman Catholicism in 1911.

        Bosie then repudiated Wilde in the most disgraceful and public way, stating he wished he had never met him, and declaring that he was ‘the greatest force for evil that has appeared in Europe during the last three hundred and fifty years.’ !!

        That made poor Oscar more evil that any tyrant, mass murderer or religious bigot in the whole of Modern History. It may be that Bosie had become as mad and as wicked as the father he had so publicly loathed and traduced.

        (NB. I know whose side Errol would have been on, and in this instance he would have ignored the Queensbury Rules entirely.)

      • twinarchers

        March 15, 2017 at 9:46 pm

        Nice post and great photos. I have some photo’s I would like to put on the site but can’t. I hate the software and have used it before but now I am not able to post a photo from our gallery. What gives?

  2. shangheinz

    March 17, 2017 at 11:53 am


    My phavourite phrase is “I do as I please”, as Errol is quoted in an old fanzine article. He used it to good measure in his first role as corpse of the curious bride in a slight variation to “I do as I sneeze…”.The saying originally was coined by Rabelais and goes like this: “In their rules there was only one clause- Do what you will.”

  3. timerider

    March 17, 2017 at 4:40 pm

    LUCK? It was his destiny! He may have loved biology and writing his adventures, however he did almost fit the $10,000 comment he made as he had not much at all at death but his wives had it all..LOL. ” Normal” PW…. at that time was rather stiff as starch and the times were not that colorful as Errol.

  4. Gentleman Tim

    March 21, 2017 at 10:17 am



    • PW

      March 23, 2017 at 5:56 pm

      I do like that last line. Only the photograph makes Errol look a little like a rather effete English actor called Brian Aherne, who usually played the man who loses the girl.

      One rare exception was an early Kate Hepburn film called ‘Sylvia Scarlett’, in which he does get her (from a pre-stardom Cary Grant), but Aherne doesn’t look too happy about it.

      • Gentleman Tim

        March 24, 2017 at 3:05 am

        Thanks to the cinematic gods, and what may have been Errol’s own choice and good sense to steer clear of Katie and Cukor’s Scarlett nightmare of a film, Aherne took the place of first-choice Flynn. Though it was great for Cary, it was a disaster in most all other ways, and may have sunk Errol’s ship before he sailed into immortality with Olivia in Captain Blood.

        There are a couple of other interesting connections or intersections between Aherne and Flynn. I’ll have to double check my records on this, but my recollection is that when I looked into the passenger manifest for the USS Paris a couple of years back, with Lili and Errol both (separately) aboard, I believe Brian Aherne may have been on that cruise from England to New York, and then on to Warner Brothers in LA, same as Errol. Then, not long after Errol & Olivia became an item, and apparently ignorant of Brian’s “sinus condition”, Joan Fontaine chased and married Aherne. Per her own testimony (quoted in the article linked below), Brian Ahern was no Errol Flynn. Lovely Livvie got Robin Hood, Jilted Joannie got Sobbin Dud.…