Friday, September 5, 2014

The Last of Robin Hood (Rhoades)

Front Row at the Movies

“The Last of Robin Hood”
Doesn’t Deliver Enough Flynn

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

One of my favorite comedies is “My Favorite Year,” a story loosely based on swashbuckling actor Errol Flynn’s appearance on the old Sid Caesar TV show. Delightfully cast in the Errol Flynn role was none other than Peter O’Toole (“Lawrence of Arabia”).

Now thirty-plus years later we have “The Last of Robin Hood,” a biopic about Errol Flynn’s declining years, when he died at 50 in the arms of his teenage lover, Beverley Aadland. This time around, we have lookalike Kevin Kline (“A Fish Called Wanda”) cast as Flynn.

Both performances only give us a glimpse at the Tasmanian-born playboy who became an instant matinee idol with his 1935 debut in “Captain Blood.” But it’s his star turn in 1938’s “The Adventures of Robin Hood” that this movie references in its title, obviously a metaphor for Flynn.

Odd, because “The Last of Robin Hood” is actually more about the dynamics between the 15-year-old Lolita who was his last paramour and her dominating stage mother.

Kevin Kline hams it up as the aging pedophile, while the movie dwells on Dakota Fanning and Susan Sarandon as Beverley Aadland and her mom Florence. The plot is simple: pliant young Beverley is thrown to the wolf by her grasping, avaricious, star-struck mother. Then (as the old saying goes) he was in like Flynn.

Errol Flynn already had a history of being a “notorious ladies’ man,” as the movie’s opening narration calls him.

Long before this movie -- currently playing at the Tropic Cinema -- begins its story, Flynn was throwing wild parties where Hollywood starlets like Marilyn Monroe were used as “sex bunnies,” on display through the one-way mirror in his bedroom ceiling. Even before he met prepubescent Beverley Aadland, he’d been put on trial for statutory rape involving two teenage girls (he was acquitted).

Pugilistic actor Victor Jory (“Gone With the Wind”) once told me about decking Errol Flynn at a party for hitting on all the married women.

Flynn’s autobiography was titled “My Wicked, Wicked Ways.”

Married three times, Flynn was in his late 40s when he spotted 15-year-old Beverley Aadland at the Hollywood Professional School. To be fair, she was passing herself off as 18 to work in movies. Their first sexual encounter could be described as rape but she came to love him, egged on by her ambitious mom.

This dramatic friction between mother and daughter is the movie’s focus, but it leaves us wanting to know more about Flynn.

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