“Hello God” is still Errol Flynn’s Ghost Film!

Allegedly a copy of “Hello God”, Errol Flynn’s missing and unseen film from 1951 was found among evidence files and archived records of a New York courtroom.  The reels of film in cans were in bad condition.    Rumor said that this deteriorating film was shipped to the George Eastman House Film Archives and Preservation Center.

     I sent a formal e-mail request to the George Eastman House stating that I wished to see the “Hello God” footage for a book project.  Five days later I received this polite e-mail from an archivist at the George Eastman House:
Thank you for your email and for your interest in our collections. We do have Hello God in our collections, however we do not have a complete version of the film. We only have the first reel of a work print and a reel or so of outtakes and trims. Preservation work did start on these two items, but has been put on hold and I do not know if and when we may resume preservation. It was expressed to me that a more complete version of the film may exist elsewhere; if that is the case then the keeper of those elements would be better suited to pursue more complete preservation. At this time we do not have any access elements for either the outtakes or work print, so we are unable to provide access at this time.
If I may be able to answer any other questions about our collections or research access, please do not hesitate to ask.
My response to the Eastman House archivist was:
   Thank-you so very much for getting back to me on my inquiry.   I regret to say that no other copy or fragments of this film exist anywhere else in the world.   A film storage company in Los Angeles had a complete print and negative of the film but no one had paid the processing and storage fees.    This company did reach out to the film’s director/producer William Marshal who was in financial straits in the mid-1960’s.   Then out of desperation, they even tried Marshal’s estranged wife, film star Ginger Rogers, who wanted nothing to do with the film and her soon to be ex-husband.   I contacted the company and was informed that since the bill was never paid, the film print, and negatives were destroyed, and discarded.
This is the end of the story.  Only a few minutes of “Hello God” have survived with a few other out-takes and film scraps.   The Eastman House is debating whether or not it is even worth the expense to save these fragments.   Errol Flynn screened “Hello God” and was appalled at the poor quality of the film.   He decided for the sake of his Hollywood career that he must destroy “Hello God” so no one will ever see it.    He got his wish.   Pity he didn’t torch “Cuban Rebel Girls”.

— Ralph Schiller

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