Posts Tagged ‘Movie’

The Hell Fire Club, Errol, Patrick and Rex

31 Jan

The original Hell Fire Club (Errol was a member of a watered down Hollywood homage, which he doubtless regretted, as he would have vastly preferred the original) has been the subject of books and films. Its first meeting took place in 1747, under the auspices of Sir Francis Dashwood, rake and dilettante, in the cellar of the George & Vulture Inn in London. The George & Vulture, which in the City, is still open as a restaurant. Shakespeare is said to have stayed there, and Dickens wrote parts of the Pickwick Papers while in situ.

The George & Vulture


The best screen ‘portrayal’ of the Hell Fire Club – which revives its 18th Century ethos – is in The Avengers episode, ‘A Touch of Brimstone’ (1966), starring Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg as Steed and Mrs Peel.

The episode caused outrage when it was shown on television, including protests in Parliament, and was banned in America. It concerns a degenerate aristocrat, The Hon. John Cleverly Cartney, who revives the club, its period dress, its orgies and its anarchic spirit. He takes the anarchy a bit far however, when he tries to blow up three visiting heads of state.

Cartney is played by one of the most interesting actors of the period, who also appeared in ‘The Innocents’ (1961), with Deborah Kerr. His name was Peter Wyngarde and despite his on screen roles as a homme fatale, he was gay.

Peter Wyngarde as John Cartney

What made the episode so infamous, however, was the orgy scene, in which Diana Rigg is dressed in a leather S&M outfit, with boots and a dog collar, pictured below.

It is not all orgies. Patrick Macnee does some very fine fencing in order to foil, as it were, the dastardly plotters.

The incomparable Patrick, who would have made the second best James Bond after Errol, was a sort of cousin of mine, his maternal grandmother Frances being the granddaughter of the 12th Earl of Huntingdon. So back we go to Robin Hood!

Patrick worked with Christopher Lee, who was also a friend, and Lee, of course worked with Errol. Patrick never met Errol, but they had certain similarities, apart from being dashing, charming, erudite, gentlemanly and able to carry off period costumes.

They both had very difficult relationships with their mothers. Patrick’s mother, Dorothea, decided to become a lesbian, which, not surprisingly, led to the breakup of her marriage. Patrick was raised by Dorothea and her ‘partner,’ Evelyn, whom he called ‘Uncle Evelyn.’

He was then sent to Eton, but expelled for selling pornographic photographs and acting as a bookie for his classmates.

Macnee appeared in a minor role in Olivier’s film of ‘Hamlet’. His big film break came with a rather mediocre musical comedy called ‘Les Girls’ (1957), in which he played a barrister. The highlights were Macnee and the wonderful Kay Kendall, who was married to Rex Harrison and already ill with the leukemia that was to kill her at the age of only 32.

Kay Kendall in Les Girls

Interestingly, two years before, Kendall had co-starred with Robert Taylor in ‘The Adventures of Quentin Durward’, which was supposed to have been a vehicle for Errol.

Kay made two films with Harrison, the British comedy ‘The Constant Husband,’ and ‘The Reluctant Debutante,’ which also featured American teen queen, Sandra Dee.

Harrison remains a contentious figure. Yes, he could be astoundingly rude and unpleasant, but he could also be heroic in private. Kay Kendall had been his mistress, and though he was in love with her, he remained very attached to his then wife, Lili Palmer.

When Kay’s doctor told Harrison she was dying, he and Lili had a discussion. It was agreed they would divorce so he could marry Kay and look after her during the time she had left. He did this devotedly and never told Kay she was ill, which must have been a great strain on him. When she died, he was genuinely devastated.

Of course he spoiled it slightly by telling people what a marvellous and selfless thing he had done, but he did it just the same. Rex went on to marry a friend of my father, Elizabeth Harris, the former wife of roistering actor Richard Harris. The marriage was not an unqualified success, with Rex reverting to hype. One day Elizabeth came down to breakfast and Rex said: ‘That’s a fine cavalry moustache you have this morning.’

Notwithstanding his lack of tact, Harrison was a joy as an actor, with his astringent rasp of a voice and sheer panache. (He even made cardigans look sexy, though not as sexy as Errol did.) He would have been a major Hollywood star in the 1940s, had it not been for the Carole Landis scandal.

Carole Landis

Yet was his behaviour towards Landis as deplorable as all that? Rex was married to Lili when he met the blonde actress, and Carole was no blushing innocent, having been thrice-married herself and rather generous with her favours, as well as being mentally unstable. Or, as we say over here, a complete basket case.

When she started her affair with Rex, she must have known he was not going to leave Palmer. Almost a year later, in 1948, she took an overdose. Rex found her while she was still alive, but there was a delay in calling an ambulance. Apparently, he had been searching through her address books hoping to find the telephone number of her private doctor in order to avert a scandal.

Shocking as this was, there have been other cases of famous men doing the same – even when the women who had overdosed were their wives! Greek tycoon Stravros Niarchos acted in precisely the same manner when his wife Eugenie overdosed and then died, and John Paul Getty Jr likewise, after spouse Talitha Pol ingested too much heroin.

Rex had signed a contract with Fox, which was dropped ‘by mutual consent.’ Perhaps this made him bitter and thus increasingly choleric. I wonder if he ever met Errol? He certainly knew Errol’s chum David Niven, who was very dyspeptic about Rex in his memoirs, but kept inviting him to dinner, just the same.

— PW


Errol, Robin Hood and The Red Earl

28 Jan

When Errol was in Mexico in the 1930s and visited the house of the renowned Marxist artist Diego Rivera, he met his then assistant, a moustachioed Englishman, who introduced himself as Jack Hastings. His full name, however, was Francis John Clarence Westenra Plantagenet Hastings, 16th Earl of Huntingdon, one of the oldest titles in England.

In Britain, Hastings was known as the ‘Red Earl’, for his left-wing politics and rapscallion behaviour. (The ‘Red Earl’ was to become part of my family when my father married his eldest daughter, Moorea.)

In the late 1920s, Jack had scandalised English Society by espousing Marxism, announcing his intention to become a painter and having an illicit affair with Cristina Casati, the young daughter of the notorious Italian Marchesa, Luisa Casati.The Marchesa lived in a Venetian palazzo (now the Guggenheim Museum) with two pet cheetahs and 10 footmen, whom she had painted gold. She was also a legendary style muse, captivating everyone from Diaghilev and Jean Cocteau to Man Ray and Cecil Beaton. She wore live snakes as jewellery and once went to a party dressed as St Sebastian, with metal arrows attached to light bulbs. Unfortunately, she electrocuted herself and had to retire for the evening.
Luisa Casati and cheetah

Luisa Casati with one of her cheetahs

The Marchesa dressed as Saint Sebastian for a party.

Luisa as St Sebastian

The Marchesa Casati, photographed by Man Ray.

The Marchesa Casati, photographed by Man Ray.

Jack soon married Cristina and they ran off to the South Seas and lived for a time on the island of Moorea (after which he named their daughter). Jack painted several canvasses and then went to Mexico to show his work to Diego Rivera, whom he revered as both an artist and a fellow Marxist. Rivera was so impressed he engaged Jack as his assistant and took him on as a pupil.

The Earl of Huntingdon and his wife Cristina Casati.

The Red Earl at work and play, and below left, his wife Cristina

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There he lived for nearly a decade, in between trips to Hollywood, where his notoriety caused him to be much in demand and, as he told my father, he socialised with Douglas Fairbanks, John Barrymore, Ronald Colman, Dietrich, Livvie, whom he attempted to kiss, and – most importantly – a newly famous Errol Flynn. Jack and Errol had something in common apart from being rebels with a taste for young women and living close to the edge.

The family tradition was that the Earls of Huntingdon were directly descended from Robin Hood, a claim supported by English folklore (the title of Earl of Huntingdon has often been associated with Robin Hood). Some of the male Earls have been given the name Robin, and the present Earl of Huntingdon is called William Edward Robin Hood Hastings-Bass.

Robin Hood, Earl of Huntingdon!

When Jack heard that Errol was to play Robin Hood in a film, he jotted down some notes. One was:’It must be made clear that he is the Earl of Huntingdon.’ Another said: ‘Your moustache should be grown thicker, like mine,’! He was rather annoyed when both these directives were ignored.

The Red Earl's Moustache

The Red Earl’s Moustache

Errol's Robin Hood Moustache

Errol’s Robin Hood Moustache

Jack could be volatile. He was so wedded to the idea that he was a descendent of Robin Hood that when one man had the temerity to question the outlaw’s historical existence, Jack threw him down the stairs.
His marriage to Cristina failed, partly due to her being equally hot tempered. Though she claimed to be a Communist, she once hit her maid so hard she broke her arm. After they divorced, Jack married the novelist Margaret Lane.

Jack Hastings was a man of unique talent as an artist who has now become known as ‘The English Diego Rivera.’ He painted a mural for my father called ‘The Snake in Eden,’ which he had hung in our dining room in Italy over the objections of some, who found it a trifle explicit. His murals are now considered lost masterpieces as very few exist. There is one in the Marx Memorial Library in London and two in the US. I would be fascinated if anyone knew the whereabouts of other murals. In the meantime, there is a wonderful biography of Jack, called ‘The Red Earl’, by Selina Hastings, his other daughter. I recommend it strongly, as he and the Flynnster were definitely fellow travellers!

One of Jack's political murals

One of Jack’s political murals

My father with Moorea and my brother, Pericles.

My father with Moorea and my brother, Pericles.


— PW


Uncork Errol…..

28 Jan

I am sure you are all aware that TCM has started a WINE CLUB, which goes well to toast a movie in particular ‘The Adventures of Don Juan’.

So very innocent – entirely innocent I am!


This is such a wonderful picture, which I love very much!

How nice of TCM to especially advertise a wine for Errol and his movie, which is scheduled to play Friday, February 12 at 2:15 pm EST. I am going to order it and hope it will arrive by the 12th. I then will toast you all, Errol and the movie!

— Tina



15 Jan

Hello all Errol fans!
I found this excellent and truthful biography written by Meredith Grau of Errol and I thought you just might enjoy it as much as I did!

Errok Flynn

Errol Flynn: swashbuckler, rascal, swaggering screen star with a sinful dose of sex-appeal. I incorporated a lot of S’s into that description in order to produce the steaming hot alliteration that this actor deserves: “Tsssssssssssssssssss… Ouch!” (Don’t get burned, ladies).
During Errol’s reign as the pinnacle action star in Tinsel Town, having inherited the sword from silent hero Douglas Fairbanks, he powered Hollywood with enough electric charisma to solve the entire nation’s energy problems. However, his glamorous, alluring, and death-defying persona of light-hearted nonchalance, while widely accepted by fans, was both true and false. He was promoted as a handsome devil, lady-killer, and man’s man (albeit in an occasional pair of tights) who always got the bad guy and could– and for the most part did– have any woman he wanted. Indeed, Errol was an adorable bad boy, and debates continue to wage about just how naughty he really was.

Permanently emotionally scarred by the childhood abuse he suffered from his mother, Errol also lived with unresolved feelings of neglect. All but abandoned by both parents at school while they went abroad, he spent most Christmas breaks alone in an empty schoolhouse, which in his own mind, felt like a penitentiary. His rebellion against this isolation built him into a troublemaking adolescent, begging for both attention and discipline. He loved to push buttons, but he circumnavigated anyone who sought control over his life. Errol would continue to both seek and avoid the company and demands of others. He lacked the necessary trust and support demanded of obedience. As such, the teen who got kicked out of school would grow into the movie star who consistently irked and disobeyed Jack Warner in business and loathed all authority figures in general. His quest for affection can too be interpreted in his sexual indulgences. Errol had (and boasted of) many lovers, made many conquests, but he sadly had little experience or understanding of love. Flings were pleasurable distractions that never satiated the need he had to find something more. His life was an eternal adventure for some mysterious, missing thing– his own personal El Dorado. What he truly sought– acceptance, enduring love, and happiness– were within arm’s reach, but his itchy feet and lack of trust compelled him to seek beyond the horizon. After all, if one keeps moving, he has no time to be hurt.

Needless to say, Errol had a way of… overdoing it– maniacally burning the candle at both ends in the hopes of quelling the inner madness and despair that had and would never find safe harbour. He wandered the world, spending his youth voyaging from place to place and country to country on almost ludicrously unrelated business ventures– from journalism to running a tobacco plantation in New Guinea! He would also spend his later years literally adrift. Aboard his yacht, the Zaca, he found a sense of quiet away from the pain of the past and the superficiality of his Hollywood life, but this was a sorry substitute for the merciful sensation of peace that comes with the true satisfaction of one’s happiness. The closest he came to joy was Jamaica. Spending time with equally conflicted friends throughout his life, those that unfortunately exacerbated and influenced his darker tendencies (“Jack” Barrymore, Bruce Cabot, etc.)
Errol drank too much, smoked too much, and eventually suffered from morphine addiction, which weathered his initially exquisite, God-given form into a prematurely old body, a reflection of his broken spirit.

The great shame of his life was the tagline “In Like Flynn,” an unfortunate leftover from the statutory rape scandal that forever ruined Errol’s personal reputation and public image. Found innocent of the accusations made against him by Betty Hansen and Peggy Satterlee in the early forties, the court case under modern investigation bears all the tell-tale signs of a set-up, and it is often hypothesized that politicos with a vendetta against the less than financially generous Jack Warner decided to take down his biggest star to teach the mogul a “lesson.” Whether or not Errol had earthly fun with either of these ladies, whether or not he knew their true ages if so, remains debatable. In any case, both Betty and Peggy, who had once enthusiastically volunteered for a place in the movie star’s bed, mysteriously changed their tunes when the prospect of money was dangled before in their faces.

While the contradictory evidence produced in court ended in a mercifully “not guilty” verdict, the event itself had a devastating effect upon Errol, who grievously felt a slight against his personal character. He had already endured the shame of receiving a 4F classification, which kept him out of WWII and insulted both his bravery and masculinity, but this was worse. His popularity had been boosted, but he found himself lampooned as a distasteful, sexual joke. This was a grave personal disappointment, as he idolized his educated, scientist father. His desire to prove himself as an honourable and intelligent man– being impressively self-taught for the most part– revealed itself in his love of writing books, studying any and everything, and approaching more mature cinematic material with a talent that had only improved and aged with him. Unfortunately, Errol found himself locked into the inflexible Hollywood system– a disaster for someone with his need for freedom– and he was never fully able to exercise the personal depth and desire he had for his art. He felt that his gifts were purely superficial and considered himself a laughing stock. In keeping with his mistrustful mindset, while he desired respect for his work, he brushed off all compliments, never believing that his efforts had been worthy. This is the true tragedy, because they absolutely were!

This Irish lad and “Tasmanian Devil” had only done some modest theatrical work and had completed a meager handful of films, including Australia’s The Wake of the Bounty (playing Fletcher Christian, under whose leadership one of his own descendants had mutinied!), when he achieved his breakthrough performance in Captain Blood– with ultimate leading lady Olivia De Havilland, no less. In the demanding, starring role, Errol would prove himself a clear natural before the camera, and this unexpected cinematic success, accomplished by an unknown nobody, consequently initiated an unparalleled career in the movies. His simple delivery of daunting lines, which would leave a lesser actor feeling foolish or tongue tied, and his assertive, graceful movements on the screen– in whatever costume, from whatever era, holding whatever prop– revealed a man who exuded the confidence of an overgrown boy. He presented himself as a brazen acrobat, completely disinterested in consequences and desirous only of living with relished abandon. His love interests were always of secondary importance to the rush of battle– a parallel with his own life. From pirate (The Sea Hawk), to cowboy (Dodge City), to war pilot (The Dawn Patrol), to sad anti-hero (That Forsyte Woman), to martyr (Uncertain Glory), to icon (Robin Hood), Errol was always excitingly up to any challenge, and as a result, he continuously succeeded in getting his audiences to believe in and cheer for him in whatever rogue battle he fought from film to film. What’s more, he also looked damn good doing it.

They don’t make Errol Flynns anymore, not that “they” could if they tried. So many filmmakers and performers try to duplicate the magic that Errol naturally possessed, but Hollywood’s current offerings of reconstituted leading men lack the elegance, spirit, and sincerity of Flynn. His characters, with their mortal vanity and foolhardy embrace of danger, exist at a level of liberty that today’s action heroes, with pecs but no personality, cannot understand. No… No one will ever be “in like Flynn” again. But that is only because Flynn is forever.

Below you find the comments posted by fans, which all our fellow Flynnians may enjoy:

Beautifully written post. xox
Thank you kindly, lady! I appreciate it!:)
Very nice write up!

Answer by Meredith:
Thank you, kindly! Errol is such a difficult personality to capture, and is too often portrayed unsympathetically. It is always nice to hear positive reactions to my depictions. Thanks for stopping by! :)

I have read an awful lot about Mr. Flynn and I must say you have written a very fair and concise profile of my favourite star. An extremely indulgent librarian and in 1966 let a skinny thirteen year old with glasses check out from the Adults Only section, My Wicket, Wicket Ways. (“I believe Errol Flynn led a colourful life,” she said smiling at me!). It probably changed my life. Pick yourself up when they knock you down and keep laughing lads and lasses.
That’s what I learned from him. Just one note: Murder at Monte Carlo, a “lost film” was his second film, not Captain Blood. Lovely job, Meredith!

Answer by Meredith:
Thank you so much for your kind words! I appreciate the note as well, which I will certainly correct and incorporate. Errol’s an easy fellow to love, but I respect him as well, which I feel was what he would have appreciated more. Happy Memorial Day!

Answer by Meredith:
Haha, no worries! I write so many typos that my prose might as well be in Swahili! I sincerely appreciate your comments and am very appreciative for the catch on “Murder at Monte Carlo.” I always forget about that one! I am with you 100% on Mr. Flynn. His work and presence always put me in a good mood and bring me back to life when I’ve had one too many punches. It’s always nice to meet another fan. Take care and stay in touch! :)

Dear Meredith Grau!
Thank you so much for your exquisite reportage on Errol Flynn is the nicest I have ever read in my life. It is written with such inside to his psychology and portraying a realistic picture of this great actor and superb man he was. Errol Flynn has given us so much pleasure with his movies and still does when we see him on TCM, which is always a thrill!

Answer by Meredith:
Thank you for your response! I truly admire and respect Mister Flynn, in addition to finding him hugely entertaining. The fan loyalty that has remained so long after his premature death is very moving. He’s still the one to beat as far as I’m concerned when it comes to charismatic leading men.

Very nice write-up but may I point out one mistake: the marriage of Damita and Curtiz is a myth, it never happened. One of many Wiki mistakes!

Extremely well done! Very thoughtful, and revealing! You might like The Errol Flynn Blog, too.

Answer by Meredith:
Yes! Was introduced to the EF Blog not long ago! So great to see a community carrying on his memory and correcting some misperceptions many have about the man, his life, and his character. Thanks for your response! :)

An extremely well written article Meredith – congrats!

Answer by Meredith:
Thank you, my friend! It gladdens me that there is still so attention and respect devoted to Mr. Flynn. Of all the actors I touch upon here, he seems to be the one about whom I can initiate the most dialogues. He remains the ultimate screen hero and a truly beautiful, misunderstood, complicated man. ;)

Excellent article. There is one mistake, under his picture at the top of the page, you have his birthday as July 20, 1909. He was actually born on June 20, 1909. Other than that, this was a very well written article that focused on Flynn as a person and not just him as a salacious figure in movie history– which, as a fan of Flynn, is much appreciated.

Answer by Meredith:
Ooh! Thanks for the catch! I write so fast most of the time, and by the time I have read and reread, all the words start blending together! I will make the correction right away. Thanks for stopping by and for your lovely comments. The public’s love of Flynn continues unabated since his death, which I believe is something that would warm his heart, so long as the messages passed along are honest. :)

Such sincere and fitting description of a one-of-the-century icon and this larger-than-life while self-destructive hero of ours! For decades have passed, Errol is still with us because we truly love, admire and sympathize with him. He was and still is the most handsome, dashing, magnetic mega star. RIP, the great Errol of ours.
I may add:
Your writing is so delicious and your analysis of Errol is very close to the truth!


— Tina


Posted in Main Page


What is that? Errol is in it!

31 Aug

And the clues are:
Have fun guessing!

— Tina


A Kitty Packard Pictorial of Errol Flynn

16 Jun

Hello Flynn Fans!
I thought I post this link as it is a very nice write-up about Errol.…

— Tina


The day when Hollywood came to Dodge City, KS

31 Jul

I found this article about when Errol, cast, and others came to premiere the movie “Dodge City” in Dodge City, KS in 1939:

DODGE CITY, Kansas — The year 1939 is considered by most experts to be the greatest year in the history of movies. There were such classics as “Gone with the Wind”, “Wizard of Oz” and “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” along with many others. There were also a number of very good movies, one of which helped to make Dodge City, Kansas, the focal point of the midwest and much of the country for a couple of days in April of 1939.

The movie was “Dodge City”, starring Errol Flynn and Olivia DeHavilland. Dodge City and the state of Kansas lobbied hard to convince Warner Brothers to open the movie in the town for which it was named. Jack Warner agreed and it led to one of the biggest days in Kansas history. At the time, it was only the second movie opening ever held outside Hollywood.

Warner Brothers went all out, sending a trainload of studio stars, including Flynn, to Kansas for the opening.

Noel Ary is former director of the Kansas Heritage Center in Dodge City and 88- year-old Luis Sanchez is a former mayor who was there that day as a 15 year old.

Ary talks of the unprecedented spotlight shone on Dodge City: “It attracted the attention of people from all over the country. All the major New York newspapers were represented by reporters.”

In addition to that, NBC Radio did five live broadcasts from Dodge City over that weekend, and Life Magazine put together a lengthy picture spread circulated around the country.

When the train rolled in, among the thousands at the Dodge City depot was 15-year-old Luis Sanchez, who talked his way onto the train to meet movie stars and get autographs.

“I hadn’t seen any movie stars”, says Sanchez, “and I figured here’s a trainload of them. Now’s the chance. You better take advantage of it.”

Among the stars on hand were such names as John Payne, John Garfield, Jane Wyman, Ann Sheridan and a man who would become to many the greatest movie star of all: Humphrey Bogart.

But that was in the future. In 1939, none of those names was even close to Errol Flynn (Miss DeHavilland could not make the trip). To understand how big Flynn was in 1939 just think George Clooney and Brad Pitt, combined. Flynn was simply one of the top handful of movie stars in the world.

“He was a swashbuckler. He was a good looking guy, he was tall and he played the part well,” says Ary. “He fit everybody’s dream, he really did. He played the part of hero and ladies’ man the way you thought it should be played.”

Following the greeting at the train station, complete with a live, nationwide broadcast, there was a one mile parade with thousands of people lining the streets. It included all the stars who were there, governors of three states, floats and a marching band.  The parade ended at the new stadium just south of downtown where there was a rodeo and more.

“They had a wedding”, says Sanchez. “And Errol Flynn was the best man and Ann Sheridan was the maid of honor. The place was packed. It was packed.”

And as much as anything, that was the story of the day: the crowds. No one can say for sure, but most agree that about one-hundred thousand people showed up in a town of ten thousand. Pictures and film of that day showed wall-to-wall people at the train station, the parade route and the stadium. For one day, it made Dodge City the second largest city in the state of Kansas.

That night, at three local theatres, the Dodge, the Cozy and the Crown, the movie premiered. It was a story of cattle drives, railroads, romance and cleaning up a rowdy town. It bore little resemblance to the actual history of Dodge City, but it’s fair to say no one complained. Had they been handing out Oscars in Dodge City on that day, the movie would have swept the awards.

The Dodge theatre still stands, refurbished but empty, standing now as mute testimony to a day when Hollywood came to Dodge City.

“Hollywood did well by Dodge City”, says Ary. “We’re gonna talk about it for a long time, at least as long as somebody remembers it. And we’d like to make sure nobody forgets.”

This is the link to this station’s website:…


— Mary Ann


Posted in Main Page


“The Perfect Specimen” 1937 Film Ad

09 Jun

Last night, I found this Movie Ad for Errol’s movie, “The Perfect Specimen” from 1937.

Here is the link to the site…………


— Mary Ann