Tony Praises Errol

11 Jan

Loew’s Seventy-second Street Theater, Manhattan

From “Tony Curtis: The Autobiography

When you’re a kid, you don’t know you’re going to grow up. You just look at big people and you don’t believe it’s going to happen to you. It has no reality. You’re not quite sure who you are or what you are, and a lot of time you’re not happy about that, or anything else.

Then all of a sudden you go into a building. It’s dark. It’s got thirty-five-foot-high black-and-white images of people doing the most incredible things you’ve ever seen. What an extraordinary environment. For an hour or two in that warm, different planet, whatever problems I had faded away. It was as calm and reassuring as a church. It was almost always open for business. You could go in and sit down quietly in the dark, and all that anguish going on around you outside disappeared. I could sob if I wanted, or I could just be quiet and look up at the screen. Those experiences were very intoxicating and important for me. Now and then I thought that I would like to bounce around up on that screen too.

The Charge of the Light Brigade was the most important movie to me when I was a kid. What a picture! I watched it over and over at Loew’s Seventy-second Street, glued to my seat up in the loge and forgetting everything around me. I had no sense of my body at all; just of perceiving those images on the screen and the thunder of all those sounds. The way Errol Flynn sacrificed his life for his brother, who was in love with that girl. I can still see it today in my head, the one brother knocking out the other and taking his place. It brought tears to my eyes, that sacrifice. Maybe because it was around the same time I lost my own brother.

The Adventures of Robin Hood, too, was a fabulous picture I loved so much. It was the first color movie I ever saw. Flynn’s insouciance, his daring; it was so appealing I could picture him walking into any pool room in Manhattan and just taking over. I loved Errol. He was lean and mean and strong.

— Gentleman Tim


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  1. barb

    January 12, 2020 at 11:52 pm

    Tim, thanks so much for posting. It’s always fun to read how celebrities also are fans, and I suspect most of would relate to Curtis’ comments about “losing himself” in the movies. I’d wondered at first why he was so enthralled with Charge of the Light Brigade, but when we read about his just having lost his brother, it makes more sense.

    Imagine how he felt when he met Flynn in real life.

    • Gentleman Tim

      January 14, 2020 at 6:28 am

      So true, Barb. I don’t think audiences were generally too thrilled that Errol lost Olivia, but, wow, what a way to go. That charge is amazing. I don’t think it’s ever been topped, certainly not as a charge, nor possibly even as the death of a hero in film – right up there with They Died with Their Boots On. (Curtiz sure knew how to kill Errol well.) Just astonishing film making.


      Regarding how TC felt meeting Errol, I’ll try to find and post exactly what TC wrote. Essentially, it was that he was in awe, very nervous, and uncertain what to say or do. Also that Errol, though not in prime health by that time in the late Fifties, was very kind and complimentary to him.

      Tony Curtis was no Errol Leslie Flynn as a swashbuckler, but he sure did give it a valiant try as The Great Leslie (vs. The Baron) in the Great Race!

  2. barb

    January 15, 2020 at 9:47 pm

    I agree, Tim, the final charge is a classic piece of film. The love triangle left a lot to be desired, no fault of the three actors. But as you said, what a way to go.

    No, Tony Curtis wasn’t any threat to Flynn as a swashbuckler, but he did a more than respectable job in The Great Race. I’d forgotten about that .. it’s a fun film.

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