Too Much, Too Soon (1958)
At the end of their respective careers, legendary hell raisers John Barrymore and Errol Flynn regularly portrayed dipsomaniacs. Whereas Barrymore was savaged by the critics for his later hammy performances, Flynn received some of his best notices for Roots of Heaven, The Sun Also Rises and fittingly Too Much, Too Soon, in which he portrayed his long-time drinking buddy John Barrymore.
Based on Diana Barrymore’s autobiography of the same name, this biopic can be easily split into two parts. The first half of the movie predominantly deals with Diana’s desire to reconnect with her alcoholic father, having been denied contact with him by a rightfully protective mother. The second half covers Diana’s own descent into alcoholism and three failed marriages. The overarching theme, depicted non-too subtly, is how Diana’s desperate need for love suffocates and repels those close to her.
The one bright spot in this turgid melodrama is Flynn’s performance as Barrymore. Though scenes depicting Barrymore suffering from the DT’s spell performance with a capital P, it is in his more subtle scenes, reminiscing about old Hollywood or forlornly wooing his estranged wife, that truly display the ease and charm of Flynn's underrated abilities. When his character dies at the film’s midpoint, he takes all life from the biopic with him.
Despite the upbeat ending, Diana Barrymore died from an overdose of alcohol and sleeping pills less than two years after the film’s release. She was 38 years old.
Movie states that at the time Diana Barrymore began her film career, her father hadn’t worked for five years. Yet John Barrymore appeared in over 15 films in the five years leading up to Diana’s movie debut.
Biopic indicates that Diana Barrymore made only one film before bad reviews ended her career, whereas she actually starred in three films during 1942. The following year Diana appeared in a supporting role in a further three films.
Biopic infers Diana took her first drink after her father died, which is different to what she wrote in her autobiography.
Though Diana Barrymore's second and third husbands are given their real names in this movie, her first husband, actor Bramwell Fletcher, is provided with the fictitious name of Vincent Bryant.
Producer Charlie Snow is a fictional character.
Biopic features no scene recreations, providing only an oration from Shakespeare’s Henry V, a character that Barrymore did not portray on screen.