Flyin Like Flynn to Venta Cruz — June 5, 1939

05 Jun

June 5, 1939

Jimmy Starr
Evening Herald Express

Errol Flynn’s finally got a private pilot’s licence and flew to the Elizabeth and Essex location at the Warner ranch in his own plane.*

* The only parts of Elizabeth and Essex filmed at the Warner Ranch were the sepia scenes in “Venta Cruz”, featuring Sir Francis Drake and his men hacking their way through the isthmus jungle.

The Warner Ranch was located in Calabasas, near where Calabasas Park is now located, “near Calabasas Creek and the vicinity of Mulholland Drive and Valmar Road.” Errol filmed several films in Calabasas.

The lower portion of the Errol-era aerial below includes the Warner Ranch.

Venta Cruz is called “”Cruces” in present-day Panama. It is located at the head of the Chagres River. The map below shows the Spanish trades routes during the days of Drake.

— Tim


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  1. Ralph Schiller

    June 7, 2020 at 6:08 pm

    Thanks Tim; It appears that Evening Herald Express reporter Jimmy Starr made an honest mistake in his article. The fantastic Panama jungle adventure scenes were actually shot for “The Sea Hawk” (1940) and not in “Elizabeth & Essex” (1937) which was shot in the glorious three-strip Technicolor process. That film had a sequence set in the swamps of Ireland. The photo above is from “The Sea Hawk”. A recent book on the history of the Warner Bros. lot says the jungle scenes were filmed on the studio backlot and not at the Warner Ranch in Calabasas. Who could blame Mr. Starr because people always said that if you saw one Errol Flynn movie you saw them all! Ralph Schiller

    • Gentleman Tim

      June 8, 2020 at 2:36 pm

      Ralph – Here is my source for an Elizabeth & Essex scene being shot at Calabasas. I cannot verify its accuracy, but have read that this book was very well researched. I haven’t got the film handy to review. Of course, the claim could be erroneous, or the scene could have been deleted. I haven’t looked at the film to see if I can see any signs of Calabasas.
      Errol may have just been monkeyshining, reminding Warner Bros. how thrilling it was when he buzzed Robin Hood in Chico a year or so earlier.

  2. Gentleman Tim

    June 7, 2020 at 7:14 pm

    Thanks very much for the correction, Ralph! Perhaps that’s entirely my error and not Jimmy Starr’s at all! I struggled finding what scene Flynn was flying to do at Warner Ranch. The sepia scene is certainly Sea Hawk as you say. I thought I read that some of the Sea Hawk filming was done at Calabasas (and Point Magu), but either my sources or my recollection could be wrong. It’s interesting that Errol had what could be seen as two Sir Francis Drake films, though of course he went by the name of Geoffrey Thorpe in The Sea Hawk.

    So I guess questions may remain: Was any of Elizabeth & Essex filmed at Warner Ranch? And, if not, why did Errol fly there during filming of E&E??

    • Gentleman Tim

      June 8, 2020 at 11:25 am

      Perhaps for the enjoyment of tormenting Hostile Harry Warner, who owned the ranch, believed that Errol was nothing special and that anyone could have played Captain Blood as successfully as Flynn.

      Here is another one of his brilliant opinions:


  3. Ralph Schiller

    June 9, 2020 at 3:19 pm

    Hello Tim;

    My source was “Warner Bros: Hollywood’s Ultimate Backlot” by Steve Bingen. Fantastic book and he did none also on MGM and the RKO backlots as well. The scenes in “Elizabeth & Essex” were filmed at the WB Calabasas Ranch, and only one scene-the falconry scene-was filmed off the lot, that one in Triunfo Canyon north of the Ranch. Ralph Schiller

    • Gentleman Tim

      June 9, 2020 at 5:18 pm

      Thank you, Ralph. So, scenes in Elizabeth and Essex were filmed at the Warner Bros. Calabasas Ranch? Great research!

      Do you know the falcon scene filmed on the old Russel/Hearst/Albertson Ranch? – near what’s now Westlake Village?…

      • Ralph Schiller

        June 9, 2020 at 5:28 pm

        Tim, My error! No scenes in “Elizabeth & Essex” were filmed at the WB Calabasas Ranch, and only one scene-the falconry scene-was filmed off the lot, that one in Triunfo Canyon north of the Ranch. Thanks for your patience Ralph Schiller

        • Gentleman Tim

          June 10, 2020 at 2:34 am

          No problem, Ralph. It was my error to begin with, my confusing Francis Drake with Geoffrey Thorpe!

          btw, I hope you’ll be able to join Flynnmates around the world in the toast to Errol on the 20th – whatever time of day is best for you, and whatever beverage you choose.

          Best to you, Ralph

  4. Ralph Schiller

    June 10, 2020 at 5:32 pm

    Absolutely Tim! Best to you and the rest of the Flynn mates, Ralph Schiller