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SEAN FLYNN & “THE TEMPLE OF THE WHITE ELEPHANT”

02 Jun

Late in 1963 Sean went on location to film his fifth starring role. A French-Italian co-production set in colonial India, the film was actually filmed in what was then Ceylon (now known as Sri Lanka,)  In Italy the film would be released in 1964 under the title, “Sandok, Il Maciste della Jungla” (“Sandok , the Maciste of the Jungle”). In France, it would be released in 1964 under the title, “Le Temple de L’Elephant Blanc” (“Temple of the White Elephant”). It was to be directed by Umberto Lenzi, who would gain a reputation as a cult director after he helmed such films as “Seven Blood-Stained Orchids” and “Cannibal Ferox”. Sean’s co-stars would be: Alessandra Panaro, who was his leading lady in his first starring role in “The Son of Captain Blood”; although his leading lady in this film was to be Marie Versini, who was best known for her portrayal of “Nscho-tschi” in the popular (in Europe) West German “Winnetou” westerns and Mimmo Palmara, who was famous for his strongman roles in several Italian sword and sandal films, where he was usually the villain opposite Steve Reeves. (But here he would be a good guy on Sean’s side.)  Also in the cast is Giacomo Rossi-Stuart (also known as “Jack Stuart”). Rossi-Stuart is also known for his roles in such films as: “Caltiki, the Immortal Monster”(1959), “Sodom and Gomorrah”(1962) and opposite Vincent Price in “The Last Man on Earth”(1964).

The plot of the film deals with the kidnapping of the British viceroy’s daughter (played by Panaro) and her fiancee, a British officer (played by Rossi-Stuart) by a fanatical murderous sect who worship “a white elephant.” Sean’s job is to rescue the two. He is aided in his mission by Palmara, who is also Versini’s protector who is a princess out to rescue her brother who is also held captive by the White Elephant sect.  [While the film would probably be a good double feature with Errol’s film, “Charge of the Light Brigade”,

it has more in common with the 1939 film “Gunga Din”, i.e. the murderous cult.]

The film was released in the UK in 1966 under the title, “Temple of the White Elephant” where it mostly received  bad reviews. The film made it to the US sometime in either 1966 or 1968. Released to US television syndication by American International Television, the television arm of American International Pictures. In the English language prints Sean dubs his own dialogue.

While not a great film and as per my review in my article, “The Forgotten Films of Sean Flynn, Son of Errol Flynn”, Sean looks good in uniform. The film does have plenty of action and does make for a good matinee type movie. It has a great score and is in glorious technicolor. It also makes great use of its lush location. The French language version can be found on YouTube, so you can judge for yourself for those who are interested. As for Sean, after completing this film, he went into what some have called his “Great White Hunter” phase, when he traveled to  Pakistan, where he killed a tiger which had taken the lives of three woodsmen and received a certificate of extreme gratitude from the Pakistani government.  He then went on to Africa where he tried his hand as a safari guide and big-game hunter. He also spent time as a game warden in Kenya. In need of money he completed three more films before becoming a photojournalist and war correspondent in Vietnam and lost his life in Cambodia in 1970. –A. R.

— ILIKEFLYNN

 
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  1. ILIKEFLYNN

    June 2, 2022 at 5:23 am

    For those who don’t understand French, here is a quick synopsis of the film.
    It begins with the viceroy’s daughter and her fiancee who are traveling with a military escort near the Sekim border when they are attacked by members of the cult of the White Elephant. At the HQ of the Royal Lancers, Sean and other officers are being briefed about the attack and the abduction. Later that evening at a ball held in honor of the Maharajah, Sean is caught stealing from a safe in the Commandant’s office. After he is court-martialed and sent to prison, he knocks out his best friend and makes his escape. He is chased, but makes his way to the jungle where he is almost killed by a giant python. He is rescued by Parvati, the man servant of Princess Dhara. They are in search of her brother who they believe was taken by the cult of the White Elephant. In the jungle they also are taken captive by the White Elephant cult and taken to their temple which is hidden somewhere in the Jungle. Led by Sean’s best friend a troop of Sikh soldiers are on Sean’s trail. After some adventures Sean who had pretended to go rogue to gain the confidence of the White Elephant cult is able to rescue the viceroy’s daughter and her fiancee, and win the heart of the princess. With his mission accomplished he watches as his friend leads the troop back to the compound.–A. R.

     
  2. Ralph Schiller

    June 4, 2022 at 5:25 pm

    Thank-you for the movie art and stills plus the synopsis of Sean Flynn’s motion picture. To her dying day, Sean’s mother Lili Damita prayed that one day he would walk out of the Cambodian jungle alive. His remains are eternally lost in the fog of war.

     
  3. David DeWitt

    June 7, 2022 at 5:55 am

    Excellent stuff! Thanks so much … Also shared on the Facebook version of the blog!

     
  4. ILIKEFLYNN

    June 11, 2022 at 4:32 am

    Here is information I forgot to include: Italian actor Arturo Dominici, best known for his roles in many sword and sandal films, especially those which starred Steve Reeves, plays (spoiler alert) the main villain.
    In the French and Spanish language prints Alessandra Panaro’s character is known as “Cynthia Patterson”. While in the English language prints she is known as “Cynthia Montague”. Why? I don’t know. –A. R.

     
 
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