Saturday, September 13

REVIEW: The Last of Robin Hood

Directed by Richard Glatzer
and Wash Westmoreland
Biographical Drama
1 hour 24 minutes
From Samuel Goldwyn Films

Kevin Kline
Susan Sarandon
Dakota Fanning

In 1957 Hollywood a fetching 15-year  blonde named Beverly Aadland became the lover of 48-year old sexually-insatiable Errol Flynn.  The actor, famous for playing Robin Hood and in other swashbucklers, was never one to run from bad behavior.  He took it even a step further by having her mother accompany them wherever they went.  That way no one could really be sure what was going on.  But now you will know.  

If you ever read Flynn's autobiography, My Wicked, Wicked Ways (actually quite a good read), you know this was one randy dude.  While he flirted with some bisexuality (usually denied by his family), he was quite famous for liking underage girls.  One of his party-guest lines was I like my whiskey old and my girls young.  At the time  he met Aadland, he was separated from his wife, actress Patrice Wymore, although a divorce was never finalized.

One might call Aadland a wannabe actress except for the fact that she never appeared to ever wannabe one.  Her truth is that she was pushed into whatever limited show biz career she had by her blowsy, one-legged, stage mother, Florence.  The mother even had her daughter's vital information changed to show she was 18.  She managed her daughter's life pre-Flynn and a great deal during the relationship with him.  The mother, as is most always the case, wanted to be noticed as much as she wanted her daughter noticed and was intoxicated by her close proximity to the aging, alcoholic actor.  At first she does not suspect her daughter's physical relationship with Flynn but once she finds out, her contempt lasts for about as long as it takes to refill her vodka glass.

Beverly's talents are as meager as her interests in a show biz career but Flynn does manage to get her a starring role in his final film, Cuban Rebel Girls (1959), which is as bad as its corny title.  But soon afterwards, Flynn would die in Vancouver, BC., with Beverly by his side.  After his death, the excrement would hit the whirring appliance.

Many always suspected Beverly was underage but the cover up involving Mama kept the good guys away from the door.  But the truth came out after Flynn's death and Mama not only lost custody of her daughter but also did some prison time.  She did write a book about her daughter's affair and Beverly didn't speak to Florence again until the latter was on her deathbed.

Beverly took the opportunity to get away from the glare of the headlines and make a life for herself outside of Hollywood.  Although mum on Flynn for most of her life, she did allow People Magazine to get snoopy in 1988. She married three times, had one child, stayed out of trouble, and died quietly nearly five years ago. 

I was interested in this film for several reasons.  One, of course, is that I love Hollywood stories. This story made for some salacious headlines in the gossip rags of the day.  But more importantly I felt like I was sitting in the bleachers at the time it actually occurred.  I had a friend, Brian, who had gone to school with Beverly and still occasionally saw her.  I was all ears when he fed me what juicy details he knew.  Additionally, I went to University High School with Flynn's oldest daughter, Deirdre.  While we were not friends, I had a couple of classes with her and the rumors about her father's affair were rampant in these classes.

The real Flynn and Beverly

So for all these reasons I saw and liked The Last of Robin Hood.  But it is a sleazy little film, to be sure.  The subject matter alone warrants that designation, and whether intentional or not, it looked sleazy.  Production values are not great, but perhaps that's what was wanted.

I enjoyed the acting, which was far better than the film itself.  Kevin Kline in some shots looked like Flynn's twin, despite the fact the actor is some 20 years older than Flynn was at the time.  In addition to the looks is the fact that both actors were/are given to fits of flamboyance.

Sarandon, too, always gives her all.  Here she is blonde and what an eyeful that prosthetic leg scene was.  Personally I suspect that she played Florence a little nicer than she really was but the actress kept me totally fascinated.

I have never been a big fan of Dakota Fanning apart from her beautiful face.  She always seems so wan.  She doesn't register on my excitement meter ever.  But from what I gleaned from all those years ago, Beverly Aadland was lacking a bit of vitality for the most part.  She was likely  completely overwhelmed by both her mother and Flynn.  So hey, Dakota, kudos then to you, too.

I don't know that I could actually recommend the film unless you, too, like those old true Hollywood stories or these actors.

Claudia Cardinale

1 comment:

  1. Hi. Extremely interesting this article. I read, many, many eìyears ago a book titled The Untold Story by Higham, if I am not wrong. If I do not mix things, I remember that ther was something about a relationship between Errol and Ty Power. But this is not the reasson I'm writing these lines. Unless You have done it before, can't You collect all your posts in a book? I think it would be great!
    B ye bye. Carlo