Errol Flynn (1909-1959)
- Brian Aherne, Sylvia Scarlett, 1935. Director George Cukor - promising she’d get to play the boy she always wanted to be - had Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant as his leads. But the third wheel? RKO’s Thalberg, Pandro Berman, nominated new boy Flynn who, knowing Cukor’s proclivities, opened his fly and produed his “big lollipop.” Cukor, this once, passed. Berman blamed Cukor and Kate for RKO losing a ton of money when Flynn went to Warners. “I don’t know which of you is the more demented diva.”
- Leslie Howard, Romeo and Juliet, 1936. Flynn, like Laurence Olivier and Douglas Fairbanks Jr was way too old at 27... and that meant 16 years younger than Howard!
- Jon Hall, The Hurricane, 1936. After his contract star Joel McCrea turned down the Polynesian sailor (“I don't look native, I look like an Irish cop”), Flynn’s sun-kissed blody beautiful topped producer Sam Goldwyn’s list for Terangi. With the proviso: If it was out like Flynn, it would be in like the Alaskan Ray Mala.
- Jeffrey Lynn, Four Daughters, 1937. A dangerous name for such a title! However, the planned reunion of the Robin Hood team of Flynn and director Michael Curtiz when Flynn fell ill. And the budget was severely slashed… Hence, Jeffrey was in like Lynn. Poor guy must have thought he was going places by subbing Flynn. Losing Ashley Wilkes in Gone With The Wind the following year proved that he wasn’t. Had a busy enough career, though - 69 screen roles in 52 years. Not to mention three wives.
- Gary Cooper, The Adventures of Marco Polo, 1938. mDoug Fairbanks or Flynn, said director William Wyler who could not visualize Coop playing Polo. Bye bye Wyler.
- John Wayne, Stagecoach, 1938. Gary Cooper’s wife, Rocky, never forgave herself. “I read it and advised him to turn it down. Stagecoach...! It made a star out of John Wayne [in his 80th film!]but we turned it down.” (We?) She was not alone. An out-like-Flynn and Joel McCrea also fled.
- Laurence Olivier, Pride and Prejudice, 1939. The film was nearly canceled following the tragic 1936 death of MGM production genius Irving Thalberg. And again, after his widow, Norma Shearer, wanted MGM to borrow Warner’s Flynn for her Mr Darcy! Metro played safe with Olivier opposite Greer Garson. Olivier was unhappy with the result. “Difficult to make Darcy into anything more than an unattractive-looking prig, and darling Greer seemed to me all wrong as Elizabeth.”
- Cary Grant, The Philadephia Story, 1940. Knowing Katharine Hepburn held the rights, Jack the chief Warner brother, offered to buy herout for $225,000- and co-star her with Flynn. Hehad, er, “auditioned” her for GoneWith The Wind - and found her wanting.
- Dennis Morgan, Affectionately Yours, 1940. A married reporter is a global lothario… Like a page from Flynn’s little black book. Maybe that is why he did not make it. Morgan’s wife, threatening divorce, was Merle Oberon and his latest lay following him home, Rita Hayworth.
- James Cagney, Captains of the Clouds, 1941. Director Michael Curtiz dream-wished Flynn, Clark Gable, George Brent and Raymond Massey... and got James Cagney, Dennis Morgan, Alan Hale and Reginald Gardiner. For a Royal Canadian Air Force tribute since labeled the 1941 Top Gun.
George Brent, In This Our Life, 1941. Ellen Glasgow's Pulitzer Prize winning soap (!), cost Warners a mere $40,000 - with Flynn and Olivia De Havilland in mind. She made it. But with Brent. (As usual, no one noticed Brent). Satan’s Angel, as Marlene Dietrich called Flynn, simply avoided director John Huston’s second film. They worked exceedingly well together on his 21st, The Roots of Heaven, 1958. US President Barack Obama's mother, Stanley Ann Dunham Obama Soetoro, was named Stanley after Bette Davis’ character.
John Wayne, Reap The Wild Wind, 1942. CB DeMille was a God only unto himself. When he wanted Flynn for Captain Jack Stuart, chief brother Jack Warner told him where to get off... Duke really owed his career to this film when an ear injury during the shoot had him rejected for WWII service. Unlike, for example, Clark Gable, Lee Marvin, Tyrone Power, James Stewart, etc.
- Charles Boyer, The Constant Nymph, 1942. “Flynn in modern clothes just doesn't seem to go over,” noted Jack Warner leading to a timely casting change. The film was about Joan Fontaine’s infatuation with a composer at 16 - an unfortunate age given Flynn’s proclivities.
- Gary Cooper, Saratoga Trunk, 1943. Head Brother Jack Warner snapped up the Edna Ferber book for the hot Warner romantic team of Flynn and Olivia De Havilland. But, quite simply - stupidly! - the studio kept them so busy they had no time for the project. Warner later bought another Ferber novel also aimed at Flynn. Giant.
- Clark Gable, The Hucksters, 1947. Sore about the scripts offered on his return from the war - this one was “lousy” - Gable dallied so long, production nearly began with Flynn, borrowed from Warners in exchange for William Powell.
- Montgomery Clift, The Heiress, 1948. “Morris is not for me.” That's what Errol Flynn told his agent when director William Wyler wanted him for the Henry James adaptation. Olivia de Havilland would have been happier with Flynn. Clift never rated her talent and was in sneering mode throughout the shoot - and hated his own performance so much he walked out of the premiere. (According to Wyler biographer Jan Herman, Mike Nichols and Tom Cruise checked out the film when planning a 1993 re-tread.
- Walter Pidgeon, That Forsyte Woman (UK: The Forsyte Saga), 1948. Flynn and Pidgeon simply swapped roles - playing the icy Soames Forsythe and the warmer Young Jolyon (who pinches Soames’ wife}. Author John Galsworthy’s celebrated title was changed because MGM did not believe Americans understood the word: saga.
- Zachary Scott, One Last Fling, 1948. Flynn and his usual sidekick, Alan Hale, passed on this weak comedy - but co-starred in 13 other movies. The very idea of Scott replacing Flynn was akin to Cheetah subbing King Kong.
- Victor Mature, Samson and Delilah, 1949. No thank you. The Baron, as pals called Flynn, did not need a haircut that month.
- Gary Cooper, Dallas, 1949. A fine old-fashioned Western with a fine old-fashioned star - and Coop seemed to be thoroughly enjoying himself. Well, he had beaten Flynn and Robert Mitchum to renegade-turned marshal Reb Hollister.
- Stewart Granger, King Solomon’s Mines, 1950. Flynn gave up adventurer Alan Quartermain in Africa when far more excited about shooting Kim in India IMDB suggests MGM had the last laugh as all his Red Beard scenes were shot in the Culver City studios. However, UK director Victor Saville declared (and he should know) that Flynn and Paul Lukas were the only two stars before his cameras in Lucknow.
- James Mason, A Star Is Born, 1954.
- MacDonald Carey, Malaga (US: Fire Over Africa), 1953. Flynn and Indian actress Nimmi had been suggested for Van and Joanna - before the busy (and lately divorced) Lex Barker and Arlene Dahl. The final couple, Carey and Maureen O’Hara, were previously teamed in Comanche Territory, 1949.
- Victor Mature, Zarak, 1955. Out like Flynn! And so this became the second of six films Mature made for Warwick, co-run in London by a certain Cubby Broccoli. He’d made a habit of wooing Hollywood talent to prop up his exotic adventures: Rhonda Fleming (no kin to Ian), Rita Hayworth, Alan Ladd, Jack Lemmon, Ray Milland, Robert Taylor, Richard Widmark, etc. This time, it was supposed to be Flynn (as the Afghan outlaw turned British spy, Zarak Khan) and Anita Ekberg. Flynn knew better. He was right. She stole the film. And the poster… The director was Terence Young, the scenarist Richard Maibaum an one stuntman was Bob Simmons - mainstays of Broccoli’s first 007 films).
- Joseph Cotten, From The Earth To The Moon, 1957. Suddenly, it was Jules Verne season in Hollywood. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, Around The World in 80 Days, The Fabulous World of Jules Verne and plans afoot for Journey to the Centre of the Earth, Master of the World, Valley of the Dragons, etc. The first Moon landing idea was for the French Genevieve Page - brushed aside by Warner, chasing Flynn for the arms magnate Victor Barbicane aiming for lunar glory.
- Stewart Granger, King Solomon's Mines, 1959. Famous for his UK film, The Seventh Veil,Compton Bennett wanted Flynn and MGM wanted the newly imported Brit. And his white sideburns. Bennett was sacked after the African locations. Granger admits he could have told Metro that James Mason and producer Sydney Box really directed Veil.
- Gregory Peck, Captain Horatio Hornblower, 1951. Some films just takelonger than others to get rolling… Jack Warner, the Warner’s studio boss, had suggested Flynn as CS Forrester’s nautical hero ten years earlier.
- Rock Hudson, Giant, 1955.
- Joseph Cotten, From The Earth To The Moon, 1957. Producer Benedict Bogeaus wanted Flynn leading the (almost) final film made by RKO. Even the suggestion of Miss Belgium 1957, Lucienne Auclair, as a co-star, could not entice himto join. This time, it was out like Flynn.
- James Mason, Lolita, 1961. The Walking Penis made it clear in 1958. “We are a package deal.” Stanley Kubrick was actually more interested in Flynn for Humbert, than his teenage paramour, Beverly Aadland, as Lolita Haze. Even though she was already living the role after being deflowered at 15, during an “audition” by In Like Flynn - and remaining with him until his death in 1959 after their terrible film, Cuban Rebel Girls… and before the Kubrick script was completed.