In should`ve been Flynn 13

24 Mar

Dear fellow Flynn fans,

welcome to a new installement of a Flynn film Errol wasn`t in.

The year of 1959 marked the death of Our Man Flynn, which brought the cloak and dagger genre to a full stop. Just when the Old Swashbuckler hung up his boots, the Caucasian Chin, Kirk Douglas, put on his sandals to plough the field of sword and sand movie extravaganzas. Just like Charlton Heston had done successfully in “Ben Hur” prior that year. Not only did Douglas secure the services of one blacklisted author John Trumbo for “Spartacus”, but also of a young director named Stanley Kubrick, whom he had met while filming “Paths of Glory”.

Originally Kube had planned to do “Lolita”, a film version of the Nabokov novel, deemed untransmittable to the screen due to its paedophilic context. Nevertheless the Bronx born filmmaker was dead set to achieve the impossible. While Hollywood Studios readily declined the offer to finance the precocious project, the film was made three years later in England instead.

Errol Flynn had been approached to play Professor Humbert Humbert and enthusiatically accepted the offer under the condition he was to play opposite of his own nymphette, Beverly Aadland. But the package deal fell flat, mainly because Errol`s last love at 16 (!) already was too old to depict a 12-14 year old teenager. Had it gone through, Flynn would have been reunited with another real life love of old of his, since Shelley Winters had been cast for the female lead.
Other leading actors considered for the main role were Laurence Olivier, David Niven and Peter Ustinov. Ultimately it was James Mason`s turn to portrait Prof. Lovesicko.

Vladimir Nabokov did write a script for the screen adaptation of his lust story and came up with a 700 page treatment. We can take a peeping tom`s look here:… and it also sells here:…

Before Sue Lyon got to wear those heart shaped sunglasses and sucking lollipops, Jill Hayworth, Joey Heatherton, Tuesday Weld and Hayley Mills were considered for the part of little Lolita. The director later said that French teenie star Catherine “Zazie” Demongeot would have been a good choice also.
Tamar Hodel, the daughter of the number one suspect in the Black Dahlia murder, claimed in a Vanity fair article, that singer Michelle Phillips from “The Mamas and the Papas” originally procured young Lyon with the novel and gave her a rubdown what it was all about:…
Sue, who attended the premiere in New York City at age 15, would have been still to young to buy a ticket for the movie legally:…

Peter Sellars came up with a stellar performance as Clare Quilty. He remembered his Golden Globe awarded role fondly:
“Quilty was a fantastic nightmarish character, part homosexual, part drug addict, part sadist, part masochist, part anything twisted and unhealthy you can think of. He had to be horrifying and at the same time funny. I had never met anyone at all like this so I just had to guess, to construct an imaginative idea for myself of what such a person must be like. When I saw myself on the screen, I thought ‘This time you’ve done it – no one will ever believe this.’ But then in the U.S. I actually ran into a couple of people who might almost have been role models for the character and I began to think, ‘Oh, well, perhaps you weren’t so far out after all.” It is commonly seen as blueprint for his next character in the Kubrick film “Dr. Strangelove.”

Somehow this unmakeable movie material sparked the careers of all involved. One can only wonder if our Hollywood hero had walked away from an Academy Award in order to do “Cuban Rebel Girls”.


— shangheinz


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  1. timerider

    March 24, 2017 at 4:40 pm

    The film in 1962 was to me such a travesty. The hypocrisy of Hollyrock then and now is no secret anymore. The jaded teenagers of today would laugh or maybe cry at this whole
    I really love the photo of Bev reading Lola, I don’t think I remember seeing this one. Her eyes show up very well in it.
    I don’t care much for the film so recently done that portrays Bev as an innocent Lolita when first seduced by Errol…

    • shangheinz

      March 25, 2017 at 10:33 am


      Right on Ry O’ Thymes, Bevy was a cute kid. The Hayes moral code was Hollywood’s chastity belt and kept Kubrick from realizing the film had had erotically envisioned. Errol could have added some double entendres and tongue out of cheek references…

  2. Gentleman Tim

    March 24, 2017 at 6:57 pm

    So much for being “safe and warm in LA”. As a teen, I always regarded Michelle Phillips as so beautiful and adorable. Same for Marianne Faithfull (and that bird could sing!), who also had a roller coaster ride of a life.

    Holy Hodel! Hanging out with Dr. Wacko’s wild child. Michelle’s real life made Lolita look like a Disney film.

    But she sure did look awfully cute!


    Maybe Marianne could have give a Faithfull performance as Lolita, too.


    • shangheinz

      March 25, 2017 at 10:49 am


      You are of course refering to the movie “Girl on a motorcycle”, Highwayman Tim, directed by Flynntimo Jack Cardiff. On a personal note, I was assigned to seek out and interview Austrian actress Susan Denberg for the local movie magazine RAY. She also was in the run for the lead role of the lewd leather flick. As it turned out, the Playboy bunny and Star Treck beauty had died three years earlier, down and out alone. RIP Frankenstein’s bride.

  3. The Zaca

    March 26, 2017 at 10:40 pm

    In most of these “should have been” posts I regularly find myself uttering “SO GLAD IT WASN’T” under my breath.


    • Gentleman Tim

      March 27, 2017 at 7:31 pm

      I agree with you on Number 13, TZ. Despite all the tortuous explanations to defend Nabokov and Lolita, in the end his book was masterfully written pornography – which is why the book and original screenplay had to be edited so extensively before filming, to disguise and rationalize the truly pathetic and despicable nature and extent of Humbert Humbert’s sickness and crimes.

      In my Humbert opinion, doing this film (especially with Beverly!) could have done grave damage to Errol’s life, career, and legacy.

      • rswilltell

        March 27, 2017 at 8:06 pm

        Hollywood History Heinz has done it again with another fascinating and thought provoking article on Errol Flynn’s “might have been career.”

        However I do agree with The Zaca and Tim this film would have been career suicide for Flynn who had the potential to top James Mason’s great performance. The critics would have sneered that Flynn wasn’t acting at all! Beverly Aadland would have been terrible in the title role of ‘Lolita’ who wasn’t half the actress that Sue Lyon was. Susan Denberg could have pulled it off if not for her accent. Sue Lyon has had a troubled life and only one other truly great role in “Night Of The Iguana” (1964) with Richard Burton, Ava Gardner, and Deborah Kerr. I need to look this up but in her twenties she married a ‘Death Row’ prison convict! Kubrick was the right man to direct the film and navigate between the censors and elicited wonderful performances from the entire cast James Mason, Shelly Winters, and Sue Lyon. It was produced in England but by MGM! Ralph Schiller

        • rswilltell

          March 28, 2017 at 6:10 pm

          Heinz; A far better scholar on Errol Flynn than I could ever hope to be, pointed out that in the photo above Beverly Aadland is not reading the book ‘Lolita’ by Vladimir Nabokov. She is actually reading ‘Lola’ a novel written by Dario Fernandez-Florez. Thanks Ralph Schiller

          • shangheinz

            March 28, 2017 at 7:15 pm

            Rushstreet Ralph, don’t humble yourself. Everybody who’s taking time out to write something about Errol Flynn here and keeps the swashbuckling spirit alive, merits our appreciation.

            Let’s just say Beverly skipped Lolita and went straight to being Lola.

      • The Zaca

        March 28, 2017 at 11:13 pm

        GT and rswilltell – agree strongly with you both!!!!

  4. David DeWitt

    March 29, 2017 at 11:08 pm

    Heinz! Tried to email you but your blog email address was rejected. Resent. Let me know if it went through on my second attempt?

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