Taylor vs. Flynn

25 Jan

PULLING NO PUNCHES: All Time Awesome Aussies


By Simon Caterson January 25, 2018

As an all-purpose Australian leading man of the 1950s through to the ’70s in Hollywood, Rod Taylor was the natural screen successor to Errol Flynn. Flynn has maintained legendary status despite or because of his scandalous private life as well as his sparkling performances on screen, inspiring many biographies and biopics. Meanwhile, the impressive acting career of Taylor, who died in 2015 at the age of 84 after appearing in more than 50 feature films has been neglected.

The DVD/VOD release of Rod Taylor – Pulling No Punches is a welcome corrective as well as being a thoroughly entertaining documentary.

Flynn and Taylor belonged to different generations, though they played a range of not dissimilar big screen roles, from romantic comedy through to Westerns and war films, from pirate epics to contemporary thrillers. Taylor arguably played a wider variety of characters than Flynn, who died at 50.

Flynn’s career was constrained by working within the studio system at Warner Brothers and limited for the most part to working with certain directors and co-stars. By contrast, Taylor’s career, which commenced a few years after Flynn’s death, saw him work with a range of directors including Alfred Hitchcock, John Ford and, in his final performance he played Winston Churchill in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds.

In his prime, Flynn was almost impossibly handsome, while Rod Taylor came across as more of a regular guy. Bright-eyed and with a wide smile held in place by a strong jaw, there is an open faced, slightly rough-hewn look about Taylor – a certain down to earth, can-do quality that he seemed to project. He was a good-looking bloke, on whom, it seems there were no flies.

There are actors who may not win awards or garner critical accolades but they do win the hearts of cinemagoers who just want to enjoy seeing them on the screen. That easy-going, exportable charisma was there in Paul Hogan in his heyday and you can see it in the screen presence of an actor like Hugh Jackman or the Hemsworth brothers, a combination of mildness and athleticism with an apparent absence of pretension, angst or vanity.

In Pulling No Punches, Bryan Brown equates the international acting career of Rod Taylor with a big adventure for an Australian of that era in particular. Like many of the more authentic movie stars, Taylor was not the product of a posh drama school but had done a few different different things and seen a bit of life. So too had Errol Flynn, though Taylor seems to have been more level-headed in handling the pressures of fame.

— Tim


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  1. David DeWitt

    January 25, 2018 at 3:38 pm

    Rod Taylor was and is one of my favorite actors. He made a series called Hong Kong that is on YouTube and gave 100% of his ability in every scene. The writing and acting is excellent and holds up today. The Time Machine made a big impression on me as a kid and The Birds. Regret I never wrote to him when he was living …

  2. twinarchers

    January 26, 2018 at 10:28 pm

    I always like Rod Taylor. He did not think he was good looking enough to be a leading man but he did very well for himself and starred in enough classics that he will always be remembered.

  3. Gentleman Tim

    January 27, 2018 at 12:27 am

    I agree guys. He was great. Timeless in Time Machine.