The Adventures of Don Juan
Then, during a resurgence of the costume adventure genre, Warners re-released The Adventures of Robin Hood and The Sea Hawk. The two films became major draws, and there was renewed public interest in Errol Flynn.
Warner Brothers decided to try Flynn out in a new costume picture. They invested in Technicolor film and a score by Max "Gone With the Wind" Steiner. Flynn was reunited with Alan Hale, who had appeared in all Flynn's studio hits.
Perhaps deciding that after years of a questionable reputation, Warners picked Don Juan for Flynn to portray. The film is decidedly tongue in cheek, with some rather amusing parallels and ironies to Flynn's own predicaments.
THE ADVENTURES OF DON JUAN opens with the legendary romantic rogue in England, where he learns that a woman he has wooed left out pertinent information about her marital status. He and his sidekick Leporello (Hale) flee the angry husband and seek refuge in a procession. Juan suddenly finds himself on his way to be married. His bride-to-be turns out to be a former lover from France, and the wedding a diplomatic arrangement. Juan is sent back to Spain in disgrace. However, his acquaintanceship with Spain's ambassador wins him an opportunity to prove himself worthy as an instructor at the royal fencing academy.
Juan returns to a country ravaged by poverty and neglect. The Duke De Lorca is manipulating the king into directing the country's resources into the military. Juan finds the queen more receptive to the needs of her people, and he develops a great respect for her (and then some). When treachery makes its move, Juan saves the day with the aid of his students.
Flynn's performance was very apropos. All reputations aside, the cynicism with which he approaches the world weary lover is right on the money. He is constantly lured into the wrong arms at the wrong time by ambitious women who have heard of his romantic prowess. Errol Flynn was certainly no stranger to such predicaments.
On the downside, we have Warners, who compromised the quality of the production. They recycled shots from Adventures of Robin Hood and The Private Lives of Elizabeth & Essex. Also despite the elabourate sets and costumes, the film has a slightly cheesy look to it. Wardrobe finally managed to come up with an outfit (for his rendezvous with the queen) that was so silly, not even the suave actor could make it believable. Fortunately the characterisations, plot, and action make up for these drawbacks. Scenes were shortened in duration to accommodate Flynn's inability to memorise long passages, but it's not apparent to the casual viewer.
Fans can enjoy Flynn's camaraderie one last time with Alan Hale. Hale appeared in more of Errol's films than any other star. In less than a year - after reprising his role as Little John for the third time - Hale would be dead. Some may recognise Raymond Burr, or Flynn's second wife Nora as a lady traveler in the final sequence.
This film is available on video and comes highly recommended. It was a hit in Europe, but didn't fare so well in the USA. It might not be another Sea Hawk, but don't let that stop you from enjoying a good movie!
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