Quick Hit – Beginning to show signs of the drinking that plagued him, Flynn somehow still buoys up this picture from being the complete mess it should have been.
While picking out movies for Pirates Week here at DoubleFeaturePreachers, I felt the need to bracket the career of one of the best pirates of them all, Errol Flynn. We covered his first pirate film, Captain Blood on Monday, and now we have one of his last, Against All Flags.
As I stated previously in Captain Blood, Errol Flynn had a bit of drinking problem. It prematurely aged him, and got him into lots of trouble. By the point in his career that he was starring in Against All Flags, one of the last attempts to capitalize on his stardom. One of my interesting anecdotes about this film is that director George Sherman attempted to ban alcohol from the set. Never to be kept from his true love, Flynn would sink oranges in alcohol and eat them on set. By noon, he would be positively lit, forcing a confused Sherman to shoot all of Flynn’s scenes in the early morning.
Despite all this, and despite somehow now looking like a cross between Charlton Heston and Jorah from GOT, Flynn is still consistently the best part of the movie. His charisma is still there, and you still believe that a princess and a pirate queen would fall for him. He’s handsome, charming, and seemingly smarter than everyone else.
That’s not exactly to say that he has a lot to work with. The plot and the dialogue in this movie is a joke. I once wrote a blatant James Bond movie copy when I was twelve and filmed it in my friend’s basement (complete with me karate chopping a coat rack), and I honestly think that my plot was deeper than this one. Essentially, if there is a preteen boy’s fantasy, this movie explores it. Want a middle-eastern (but somehow white, because this is the 50s) princess to throw herself at you and be so stupid you could hardly believe it? Check. Want a fiery red-headed pirate woman to continually throw herself at you while you continually turn her down at every turn? Check. How about single handedly fighting a much bigger dude with a boarding pike and winning, despite no true actions of your own – we got it here. So much of this movie is fantasy fulfilled, and the movie dramatically suffers for it.
Despite this, it’s still fun to watch, because hey, I was a preteen boy once. Maureen O’Hara is the red-headed woman, and she is beautiful and fiery. Her acting performance is all over the place, filled with frequent mood swings and turns of face. Anthony Quinn is also in this, and darned if he doesn’t look a lot like Javier Bardem. He’s ok, but again, it all falls back to the plot – nothing is backed up with anything of substance.
So, if you want a good pirate movie, I can’t necessarily give you a recommendation for this one. There are some scenes that are inadvertently hilarious, and there are some that are still enjoyable. I’m giving Against All Flags a “C-“.
For more on this movie check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"