Saturday, April 9, 2011

Movietone News

As a young lad I was a fan of Errol Flynn, as most young boys not troubled by inconsistencies might be, easily entertaining the discordant thoughts of honest pirates and the daring feats of bravery they might do, but the interest waned with time. Matthew Coniam's recent piece on the actor that played Captain Blood and Robin Hood brought new interest to the man that embodied all those roles:

"But this is merely to fall into the trap Flynn set himself: that of devaluing the illusions he offered, underrating their significance and overlooking the skill, ingenuity and talent that went into creating and sustaining them. To be the world’s greatest swashbuckler is not to be nothing; to remain a byword for dash, bravery and athleticism nearly fifty years after your death is achievement of another magnitude again.

Viewed today, his screen persona seems more ambiguous than it once did, certainly more so than, say, John Wayne’s or Clark Gable’s. Beautiful rather than handsome, he appears athletic and virile but not necessarily all that tough. (Screenplays often call upon him to prove himself physically early on, as frequently, it seems, did life.) The little playboy’s moustache warned of frivolousness and unreliability, and he often seems mildly foppish, careful in his manners and dress and vain about his looks (which Flynn in fact was not).

He did not deal in cynical heroes, but, watching him, we suspect a cynical man behind the lustiness and derring do, despite the total absence of irony in the portrayal itself. His characters seem to wink at us, but at us alone, as if keen to reveal to us facets of themselves they never show other characters."

It is a great pleasure to run into a well written blog that is interesting, insightful and a fun read. Matthew Coniam's Movietone News has been a delight. Check out the whole thing here.


  1. James: As often happens in these matters I read your comment to Matthew Coniam on his Amberson’s write-up, and traced you to your own site some sixth thousand miles west of Matthew’s world. He is a very fine writer and assessor of films – most knowledgeable – and his site is civilized and collegial. Matthew on Flynn is very much the sort of portrait he seems to paint so easily. His work on Ambersons is just right – written with passion and much love. Comparing it to “Portrait of Jennie” makes for evocative architecture. It is a glorious film.

    Matthew is an admirer of Edward Hopper who has influenced his film interests as the artist has mine. “New York Movie” represents one of the recurring images of my youth.

    And a review of your interests piques mine. Your film list includes my favorite film of all time “I Know Where I’m Going.” So I feel on comfortable ground saying hello. Best. Gerald.

  2. Ah, very good. Yes, "I Know Where I'm Going", that's a good one indeed.

    Thanks for stopping by, Gerald!