Growing up in Ireland in the late sixties and early seventies, we had four tv channels. Which come to think of it is just fine. Mind you if you’ve ever been stuck in a house
on a rainy Sunday with the wind howling off the Irish Sea you better have a good book or a good movie on the box or, in a house full of rambunctious kids, all hell can break loose. Remember this is also in the days before video tape and video players and where dvd would have sounded like a mutant strain of syphilis. (To complete this technologically primitive picture, perhaps the most advanced electronic item in the family arsenal was the eight track cassette player that my Dad had in the Hillman Hunter– usually playing the Wolfe Tones, the Dublin City Ramblers or Charlie Pride. Seriously.)
But I digress.
So on a rainy Sunday afternoon, with the Big Match featuring some godawful highlights of a game from the day before, of which you already knew the result, the only real game in town was the BBC Sunday afternoon movie- always some warhorse from the Golden Age of Hollywood- a western, a war movie, a Warner Brothers gangster, a musical, maybe a sword-and-sandal picture- meat and potatoes after the meat and potatoes of Sunday dinner. Cue the whole gang leaving the dinner table usually with dessert plates in hand and settling in to see what was playing. Because for some reason – at least as I remember it- the movie was never advertised in advance. The Sunday morning papers just announced “2:00pm The Sunday Matinee”. So you never knew what you would get.
And that’s where a kid started to get a little education….cut to the production card for the company that made the film- “Republic”….okay a western….”MGM”…..not a musical………”RKO”…..hmmm King Kong AGAIN? Cue me Ma saying “ah here, this is as old as dirt” before she even saw the titles…..Warner Brothers….thanks be to…..saved….
Warners had Cagney and Bogart and historical bios and Bette Davis and Bugs Bunny…..and best of all for a young boy on a rainy afternoon, Warners had Errol Flynn.
Love Captain Blood and Robin Hood and The Sea Hawk and Silver River and Dodge City and Elizabeth & Essex and Master of Ballantrae and Edge of Darkness and Operation Burma and Northern Pursuit and The Dawn Patrol and They Died With Their Boots On. Or if some of those movies don’t stand up in reality, in the minds eye they remain fond memories. Then again some of them stand up just fine….
And My Wicked, Wicked Ways, Flynn’s glorious swashbuckling autobiography which may or may not be, shall we say, embellished- love it, makes me laugh, as do the many tales of Flynn’s excess told by his friend and erstwhile partner in crime David Niven, in his books and frequently as a guest on late night tv.
So what I hear you say brought on these reminiscences?
Pictures of Flynn’s beloved schooner the Zaca, restored to all her glory on the Errol Flynn Blog (the things you find on the intertubes when your not looking)
Wouldn’t you just want to take her out?
I reckon Sunday dinner topside in the marina in Monte Carlo would be a fine thing……
Then repair to the master suite…..in like Flynn indeed….or maybe just a nap….
Maybe that’s what caught a young boy’s imagination. The sense that the laughing, dashing character on the screen wasn’t too far removed from the real man. That the adventurous life lived in the movies was duplicated in reality. Or maybe they were just fun movies. Still, the man’s a feckin’ legend, in Paul’s Personal Pantheon of the Great and Not So Good and Those Who Grow Old Disgracefully. Which frankly, is the only way to go.