The Films of Errol Flynn

Look up the word swashbuckler in the dictionary and you may find a picture of Errol Flynn.  No other actor exhibited his brand of dashing daring-do.  Of course, there is more to his career than high-flying pirate adventures.  Flynn starred in war movies, period dramas and, yes…westerns.  He portrayed a number of real-life characters from Custer to Don Juan.

Errol Flynn was born in Tasmania in 1909.  He pursued a number of jobs (including operating a tobacco plantation and a copper mine) before finding his way to Hollywood.  Become a top box office draw in the 1930s and 40s.  He had quite a reputation as a ladie’s man, which led to the popular phrase “In Like Flynn”.  But years of hard living took it’s toll and Flynn died in 1959 at the age of 50.

Here is a list of some of Errol Flynn’s best:

  • Captain Blood (1935)
    Flynn rocketed to stardom as Dr. Peter Blood, a 17th century physician charged with treason.  After escaping from prison, he joins a group of pirates and sets sail on the high seas.  This was the first of eight pairings with leading lady Olivia deHavilland.
  • The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
    In one of his most famous roles, Flynn stars as the legend of Sherwood Forest.  DeHavilland costars as Maid Marian and Basil Rathbone as Guy of Gisborne.  Filmed in glorious Technicolor, the film’s led Warner Bros. to commit to the process.
  • The Dawn Patrol (1938)
    World War I pilots Flynn and David Niven battling a top German ace.  Considering that this movie is over 70 years old, the stunts and effects are pretty impressive.
  • Dosge City (1939)
    Flynn single-handedly tames the West…well almost.  He plays a cowboy turned lawman who must confront those trying to control the town.  DeHavilland once again co-stars.  Strangely, Errol Flynn never hides, or explains, his noticable accent.
  • The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939)
    Bette Davis takes the lead as Queen Elizabeth I with Flynn as her suitor Robert Deveraux, Earl of Essex.  The film was nominated for five Academy Awards.
  • The Sea Hawk (1940)
    Flynn leads a group of English privateers raiding the Spanish Armada.  One of the film’s rousing speeches can be interpreted as call to action against the reali-life rise of Nazi Germany.
  • They Died with Their Boots On (1941)
    Although notorious for it’s historical inaccuracies, this film about the life of General Custer was a huge hit. Olivia dehavilland co-stars with Flynn for the 8th and final time.
  • Gentleman Jim (1942)
    Flynn plays boxing legend “Gentleman” Jim Corbett in this biopic.  Legend has it that Flynn suffered a mild heart attack while filming a fight scene.
  • Objective, Burma! (1945)
    Filmed just months after the real-life raid against a Japanese radar station.  Errol Flynn’s health prevented him form enlisting.  This led to his string of war films thoughout the 1940s.
  • The Sun Also Rises (1957)
    In one of his last roles, Flynn co-starred with Tyrone Power and Ava Gardner in this adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s acclaimed novel.  Power had taken over as Hollywood’s chief swashbuckler in the 1940s and 50s.

Which Errol Flynn movie is your favorite?