The Adventures of Don Juan
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"There is a little Don Juan in every man, and since I am Don Juan, there is more of it in me."
Final line from The Adventures of Don Juan (1948)
Warner Bros. wanted to cash in on Errol Flynn's image as Hollywood's greatest Don Juan with this 1948 action adventure. It took them four years and more than $2 million to get the picture to the screen, and by that time it's star was beginning to feel that his Don Juan days were over.
The studio first started developing The Adventures of Don Juan in 1945, but between problems in getting the right script and an art director's strike, it was four years before they could start work. Originally, Raoul Walsh, who'd scored hits with Flynn on such pictures as They Died With Their Boots On (1941) and Gentleman Jim (1942), was supposed to direct. By the time the script was ready, however, Flynn was on the outs with Walsh. Ann Sheridan had had a good time working with director Victor Sherman on Nora Prentiss (1947) and The Unfaithful (1947), so Flynn requested Sherman on her advice.
Flynn started the film on his best behavior. Though he had a reputation for showing up on set hung over and getting drunk after lunch, he promised Sherman to behave himself. But the 38-year-old Flynn was beginning to feel the effects of what he would call in his memoirs My Wicked, Wicked Ways. Production was delayed by various illnesses, and he needed extensive doubling for the film's many action scenes. During the climactic duel with villain Robert Douglas, Sherman couldn't find anybody to do Don Juan's leap down a massive staircase until future Tarzan Jock Mahoney stepped in.
To make things worse, Flynn was tiring of his image. For all his success, he would later write, "I found that at the top of the world there was nothing. I was sitting on the pinnacle, with no mountain under me." His one hope was to gain recognition as an actor as well as an action star. During the first days of shooting, he seemed dedicated to just that. When the script wasn't quite right, Flynn even improvised brilliantly. Then he got bad reviews for a rare dramatic role in Escape Me Never (1947). The next day, Flynn started drinking on the set.
For all Flynn's problems, however, Sherman and producer Jerry Wald managed to turn in a sumptuous, fast moving picture. Despite solid reviews, however, the film did poorly at U.S. box offices, prompting Warners to cut the budgets on future Flynn vehicles. But if this was the beginning of the end for Flynn, at least he went out with a bang. As Newsweek's critic wrote, ". . . there are enough swordplay and bouncing bravura in The Adventures of Don Juan to activate two films of this sort . . ."
Director: Vincent Sherman
Producer: Jerry Wald
Screenplay: Herbert Dalmas (story), George Oppenheimer, Harry Kurnitz, William Faulkner (uncredited)
Cinematography: Elwood Bredell
Editor: Alan Crosland Jr.
Art Direction: Edward Carrere
Music: Max Steiner
Cast: Errol Flynn (Don Juan), Viveca Lindfors (Queen Margaret), Robert Douglas (Duke de Lorca), Alan Hale (Leporello), Romney Brent (King Phillip III).
C-111m. Close captioning. Descriptive Video.
by Frank Miller