Firstly I can say that I am a big Errol Flynn fan who doesn’t think he has gotten what he deserves in terms of recognition from Hollywood. That doesn’t cloud me in thinking that everything a “Star” did was correct or wonderful that it deserves to be given its due. This Don Taylor Directed MY WICKED WICKED WAYS (1985) made for TV film was an attempt to use some of Flynn’s self penned biography of the same name as source material. Good attempt that falls short.
Don Taylor who Directed and also listed as writer for this had a huge career as an actor in films like STALAG 17 to Directing for Television in a number of series like BURKE’S LAW and THE WILD WILD WEST. Taylor is well versed in the medium of directing for the small screen and handling fast moving story. If that was a decision as a Writer or Director this picture ignores many of Flynn’s live moments in favor of focus on Lili Damita .
Flynn is played by Lethbridge Alberta Canada born Duncan Regehr who has a slight facial resemblance. He also has the physical background as he was a champion skater when he was young so comfortable with the athletic aspects of Flynn’s roles. Regehr is also large in body to Flynn who was thinner but you cant have everything.
Sadly missing are Flynn’s real life moments with Olivia de Havilland played quite well yet all to brief by Lee Purcell.
Lili Damita is portrayed by Barbara Hershey who once again has physical resemblance again one cant have it all when casting these. The accent she tries through out is pretty much a caricature which does get in the way of her speech.
MY WICKED WICKED WAYS has some other not some large roles that are actually better then the two leads the first is Hal Linden as Jack Warner. Linden has the age and the background to pull this off with relish yet what is missing and only hinted at in the screenplay was the actual fiery confrontations between Warner and Flynn. Linden and Regehr never really get the opportunity to unleash. Missing also is Flynn’s utter contempt for authority in any form that he manifested with his dislike for Warner and the studio system in general.
The oddest role is Darrin McGavin as Dr. Gerrit Koets a sort of German or Austrian adventurer which is a corruption of Flynn’s real life companion Dr Herman Erben who is said to have been working for the S.S. This was used in screenplay to not draw attention at the time Charles Higham wrote a controversial, unproven book ERROL FLYNN THE UNTOLD STORY claiming Flynn was a Nazi during the Second World War.
Englishman Barry Ingham does a good turn as John Barrymore in some wonderful scenes notably missing is frequent urination on the Muholland Drive house fireplace. There is a delightful silly moment when Barrymore’s corpse is stolen for night of fun which did happen.
Inaccuracies abound in MY WICKED WICKED WAYS not doubt many I am did not see. Firstly was the total omission of actor Alan Hale was one of Flynn’s greet buddies on and off the screen. John Huston was not present nor is the very famous punch up the two actually had at a party that ran all over the property sending both to hospital. David Niven is nowhere to be seen also since both he and Flynn moved into together calling their home “Cirrhosis by the Sea”
The sets are slightly off in that I do not believe Lili Damitia had that style of living arrangements similar to Jean Harlow. Mulholland house was not white inside it was wood grain through out with book cases filled with literature. Missing most is the thunderous arguments between Errol and Lili that made them known as the “Fighting Flynn’s’ along with the “Battling Bogart’s’.
MY WICKED WICKED WAYS ; THE LEGEND OF ERROL FLYNN is an attempt that falls short. Too much silly comedy and poor characters other than the ones I mentioned. Situations are deeply fictionalized to the point of what is this about. If you can get by Duncan Regehr’s high pitched nasal tone in accent you can enjoy this more. Like the book perhaps this is the best form for the story as it was thought to be a fabrication of a drug addled mind. Still enjoyable if not for the attempt. Now bring on Kevin Cline and a proper production of this varied life. Then again the title does say “Legend”