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Was it Flynn, Barrymore, Or _______?

02 Oct

October 3, 1982

New York Times

RICHARD BENJAMIN CREATES A COMIC VALENTINE TO THE VIDEOS

“The Alan Swann character ”started out with Errol Flynn in my mind as casting began, but then Barrymore crept in,” said Mr. Benjamin. ”And I thought it had become Barrymore. Then I thought I’d want a mixture. What came out was _____ _______”

I say Flynn. Who say you?

— Tim

 

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  1. Laura M.

    October 2, 2020 at 3:55 am

    I believe the character of Alan Swann was based on Errol Flynn.

     
    • Gentleman Tim

      October 4, 2020 at 3:12 am

      I believe you’re correct, Laura. Even the character’s very name, Alan Swann, appears to confirms so.

      Plus, did Barrymore ever jump and swing like Errol?

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  2. Karl

    October 2, 2020 at 1:30 pm

    As the important contribution of Richard Benjamin (director) is already acknowledged…

    I see, Tim, that you left enough space for still another CREATIVE credit: _____ _______ …

    May I offer up the name of Mel Brooks (and his more than “Executive Producer” and story “character” contribution)!

     
  3. catschutz

    October 2, 2020 at 2:19 pm

    From what I’ve read ,Mel Brooks said the character was based on Errol Flynn….and watching the film(which is one of my favorite movies and I think Mel Brooks was genius)I always thought of Errol…especially the genuine kindness the character shows….sensitive and kind as well as a little naughty….love it❤️

     
  4. barb

    October 2, 2020 at 4:04 pm

    Another great find, Tim, what a fun and interesting read. I’ve always loved this movie and first saw it when it came out in the theatre. The Swann movie footage was amazing. I’ve always thought Swann was based on Flynn and still do. Granted, I’ve not seen much footage of John Barrymore and certainly not enough to know how much of Barrymore is in Swann’s character. I don’t think it’s ever been confirmed that Flynn had any real-life connection with Your Show of Shows, but this movie did such a terrific job of showing what it was like at that time to work on that type of show.

    Karl, excellent suggestion of Mel Brooks as the third creative credit.

     
  5. barb

    October 2, 2020 at 4:41 pm

    While “I’m not an actor, I’m a movie star” is a wonderful line, I would argue (and I know I’m preaching to the choir here :-)) that Flynn was both an actor and a movie star.

     
    • Gentleman Tim

      October 3, 2020 at 12:38 am

      Excellent point, barb. Errol was an extraordinary actor, just not in the thespian sense that was praised and expected by the theater set in those early days. In truth, Errol not only paved the way for modern action and adventure movie actors, he’s still the greatest there’s ever been. No one has surpassed him. Unlikely any one ever will. He reigns supreme. Could there ever be a more fun and exciting Captain Blood or Robin Hood?? A more sensational Sea Hawk, Corbett, or Custer?? As they used to say back in the day: No way, Jose!

      Having said that, as the EFB Choir knows well, Errol was very humorously self-deprecating about his acting skills. It would be just like him to say “I’m not an actor, I’m a movie star.” That’s infinitely more Flynn than Barrymore.

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      • Philip

        October 3, 2020 at 1:43 am

        Agreed Tim. If there’s an element of Barrymore in Alan Swann it’s to do with the faux thespian banter and gestures. The rest is pure Flynn … I’ve read that while Barrymore could swoon with his charm, he had a nasty side, unafraid of cutting people down at will. Errol, it can be said, in many aspects was selfish and waltzed through life lathering on the charm, but he had a kind heart and I don’t believe would willingly put people down and be malicious without very good reason. Nice post!

         
  6. Karl

    October 3, 2020 at 12:16 pm

    Thanks Barb… an old post makes better my point:

    www.theerrolflynnblog.com…

     
    • Gentleman Tim

      October 3, 2020 at 7:20 pm

      Kudos to you, Karl!!! Spectacular research and writing!!!

      Rather than Steve, Martha, and The Three Musketeers, here are Steve, Martha, and The Three Dons (Don Adams, Don Knotts, and Don Juan)

       
    • barb

      October 3, 2020 at 9:52 pm

      Superb sleuthing, Karl, and clearly a labor of love. Fascinating.

       
      • Karl

        October 4, 2020 at 4:49 pm

        Thanks Barb and Tim…

        (And thanks for that wonderful clip!)

        Aside from trying to figure out the curious motivation* of Mel Brooks (and his less than forthcoming behavior about the project to EVERYONE)…

        the MOST elusive detail of all, believe or not, was nailing down (ouch!) the source for the “quotable” from the bathroom scene and who said it… FIRST.

        I had ALL Flynn and Barrymore books, at the time, and searched and searched to NO AVAIL but still~ DID remember reading it somewhere.

        Finally, flipping through House of Barrymore, by Margot Peters… THERE IT WAS, all the way in the back of the book, page 593- a brief mention in the footnotes and a date, if memory serves, of 1930!

        And, indeed, an undisputed Barrymore contribution to the film which, no doubt, would have pleased the REAL Alan Swann himself!

        * It was the chance reading of the Dierdre/Mel encounter that made it, to me, suddenly all clear.

         
  7. Karl

    October 4, 2020 at 4:51 pm

    Thanks Barb and Tim…

    (And thanks for that wonderful clip!)

    Aside from trying to figure out the curious motivation* of Mel Brooks (and his less than forthcoming behavior about the project to EVERYONE)…

    the MOST elusive detail of all, believe or not, was nailing down (ouch!) the source for the “quotable” from the bathroom scene and who said it… FIRST.

    I had ALL Flynn and Barrymore books, at the time, and searched and searched to NO AVAIL but still~ DID remember reading it somewhere.

    Finally, flipping through House of Barrymore, by Margot Peters… THERE IT WAS, all the way in the back of the book, page 593- a brief mention in the footnotes and a date, if memory serves, of 1930!

    And, indeed, an undisputed Barrymore contribution to the film which, no doubt, would have pleased the REAL Alan Swann himself!

    * It was the chance reading of the Dierdre/Mel encounter that made it, to me, suddenly all become clear.

    P.S. And the question was posed about Barrymore’s (general) swashbuckling prowess…

    This clip* surely RIVALS the contest between Flynn and Rathbone in AORH- with the Arch Bishop of the Canons no less!:

    (See 2:12 – 3:19)

    And speaking of mixing it up with Baz, here he is up against none other than the GREAT profile hisself:

    *In this film, Don Juan, there is still another Flynn parallel from HIS own DJ- a flying leap on a staircase only there is no excerpt of that here.

     
  8. ILIKEFLYNN

    October 5, 2020 at 4:43 am

    Well, very interesting post as I count “My Favorite Year” as my favorite film “comedy”.
    First it’s obvious from the asides to Flynn (like the “Adventures of Robin Hood” style movie clip the writer’s watch in the scene where Swan makes his first appearance at the TV studio.) that he was the main inspiration for “Alan Swan”. But the character is a composite as there are elements of John Barrymore there too. (The incident where Swan heads to the “Ladies’ bathroom actually happened to Barrymore, at least that’s what I read in a book about “Hollywood Rogues.”) I also think there’s a little Peter O’Toole in the character as O’Toole also had a reputation as a hard drinker and hell raiser in his hey days back in the sixties.

    So maybe the fill-in about what came out could be “Peter O’Toole.”–A. R.

     
  9. Karl

    October 7, 2020 at 11:41 am

    I thank you, ILF, and I do think O’Toole did EMBRACE the challenge (and affording it the SAME respect to the subject just as dear old Errol did in accepting the CHALLENGE of accurately representing JB in Too Much Too Soon… aside from complete SYMPATICO!)