This past week, I rented Vincent Sherman's 1948 swashbuckler The Adventures of Don Juan, starring Errol Flynn and Alan Hale, Robin Hood and Little John themselves, attempting to recreate the Technicolor magic of The Adventures of Robin Hood ten years before.
Aside from Max Steiner's stirring score, alas, it was not meant to be. I didn't even finish watching the film. Overall, the whole experience reminded me of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, if only because of the misguided attempt to recapture a genre lost.
By 1948, the glory days of the swashbuckler were gone, the old Hollywood studio system was on the verge of destruction thanks to the Supreme Court decision to force divestiture of their theater chains, and the whole thing seemed like an empty exercise to me. It certainly didn't help that Errol Flynn looked incredibly disinterested, and at times a bit more than a little inebriated.
Flynn was a more-than-capable successor to Douglas Fairbanks as the movies' premiere swashbuckler in films like Captain Blood, The Adventures of Robin Hood, and The Sea Hawk, but as the 1940's went on, his hard-living lifestyle of heaving drinking and whoring caught up with him and his career declined as his hard living rather cruelly etched itself in the lines of his face. He was only 39 at the time he made this movie, but I swear he looks more like 55. My mom, who adored Flynn, always warned me against watching any of his films made after 1942 or so, and having witnessed the debacle of his performance as Don Juan, now I know what she was talking about.
Flynn eventually suffered from liver failure and died in 1959 at the age of 50.
On an entirely different note, it came as quite a surprise when the villain of the piece was introduced. The King of Spain had a dwarf sidekick that dressed and talked exactly like him. Sounds familiar? To think Mike Myers didn't come up with an original idea!