People who know me well know the rather embarrassing fact that ever since I became a budding cinema buff in my teens, I have had one very important Christmas tradition. I sit down somewhere very comfortable, not to be disturbed, with a hearty cup of tea and some tasty biscuits (let’s say a mint Viscount), a fresh highlighter, and the holiday double edition of the RTE Guide (Ireland’s version of the TV Guide) and proceed to go through all the movies on TV over the Christmas period, and highlight the ones I’m planning to watch.
For some reason, when people talk about the great movie actors, they never mention Errol Flynn. They’re wrong but I think I know why. His reputation as the rascal, the “In Like Flynn” womanizer, the hard-partying drinker whose Hollywood Hills home was self-titled “Cirrhosis by the Sea,” the man who would title his cheeky memoirs “My Wicked, Wicked Ways,” goes before him, and at best people regard him as a good-looking chap, with a decent handle on a sword, who got lucky and had a great nightlife, occasionally turning up to play the same part in a bunch of swashbuckling hokum. Okay, he may not be as transformative with accents and physicality as Daniel Day-Lewis, as deep-digging as Robert De Niro or as plainly bold as Marlon Brando, but Errol’s a very fine storyteller, with surprising empathy and vulnerability, and there’s no film star who, when watching his movies, makes me smile more or who gets me as giddy at the prospect of a good time as when I see Errol Flynn appear in the starting credits. In short, he’s one of my faves, and I’d like to try and tell you why.