My Wicked, Wicked Ways: The Legend of Errol Flynn (1985)

Filmed at a time when the public’s perception of Errol Flynn had been tainted by author Charles Higham’s allegations that the matinee idol was a Nazi spy, My Wicked, Wicked Ways takes its title from Flynn’s posthumously released autobiography.  In telling his side of the story, the biopic does not shy away from depicting the actor as a reckless, womanising rogue. What it does conceal though, is any semblance of the star’s devil-may-care charm.

 

It’s not for lack of trying. Duncan Regehr has the looks and pedigree to be a half-decent swashbuckler, having been a figure skater and Olympic boxing contender before training as a Shakespearean actor. Yet the film’s attempts to manufacture a light touch invariably result in a resounding thud. Food fights and bar-room brawls fail to produce a chuckle, while the continual appearance of screaming young girls becomes annoying rather than farcical.

 

Apart from charting the first seven years of the Aussie actor’s career in Hollywood, the biopic also spends a good deal of time covering his off-screen escapades, including his stormy marriage to actress Lili Damita and his acquittal on the charge of statutory rape. By the time he starts covering the Spanish Civil War for Hearst’s newspapers, studio head Jack Warner sums up his, and unwittingly the audience’s, exasperation when he cries… “This is turning into a lousy B-movie!”

cast, Duncan Regehr, Errol Flynn, Barbara Hershey, Lili Damita
Duncan Regehr
Duncan Regehr

as Errol Flynn

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Barbara Hershey
Barbara Hershey

as Lili Damita

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Lee Purcell
Lee Purcell

as Olivia de Havilland

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Barrie Ingham
Barrie Ingham

as John Barrymore

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fact check, factcheck, fact vs fiction, inaccuracies, true story

The real-life inspiration for fictional character Dr. Gerrit Koets is Dr. Hermann Erben.

Stuntman Billy Welch is a fictional character.

Biopic’s coverage of statutory rape trial has one female accusing Flynn of having sex with her on his yacht. In reality, two underage girls accused him of statutory rape.

Errol Flynn did not wear a moustache in Captain Blood.

film clip, scene comparison, video, charge of the light brigade, gentleman jim

Biopic recreates scenes from many of Flynn's earlier movies, including his bit part as a corpse in The Case of the Curious Bride, his breakthrough role in Captain Blood and his starring roles in Gentleman Jim and The Charge of the Light Brigade. Biopic also depicts the death of a stuntman during the filming of They Died with Their Boots On.

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