MY WICKED WICKED WAYS: The Legend of Errol Flynn (1985)


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”

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