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The Last of Robin Hood (5/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 90 minutes.

Not for children.

This is purported to be the true story of the end of swashbuckling movie star Errol Flynnís life and the sexual relationship he had with teenaged movie actress wannabe Beverly Aadland (Dakota Fanning) when she was 15 through 17 years-old and he was 48 through 50, although itís a strong likelihood that Flynn thought she was 18 when they met. Aadland appeared as a nurse in South Pacific (1958).

Like many modern men who surround themselves with nubile young girls when they are old men (like the aging owners of NBA basketball teams and the ancient proprietors of Menís girlie magazines), Flynn liked underage girls and was subject to a charge of statutory rape in 1942, of which he was acquitted, but the trial was sensational and it hurt his image that had, by 1940, made him the 4th most popular actor while at Warner Bros.

Writers-directors Richard Glatzer (often a bridge opponent of mine a decade or so ago) and Wash Westmoreland are done in by monumental miscasting of Kevin Kline as the washed-up but flamboyant Flynn. No matter what anyone says about him and his character, he was a good athlete and a fine tennis player. The way Kline portrays him he has not an iota of athleticism or sex appeal. Had they hired someone who could recreate Peter OíTooleís performance in My Favorite Year (1982) which was based on Flynn, this could have been a winner. OíToole played him as an aging alcoholic, but he gave him the gusto one associates with Flynn. Kline portrays him as almost apathetic which robs the film of the fascination of My Favorite Year.

The film presents a surprisingly sympathetic picture of Aadland, considering that she was a precocious  underage teenager having an adulterous affair with a married man three times her age. Even considering Hollywood morals itís difficult to see why these filmmakers view her with such tenderness except that they did get to know her before her death and that might have interfered with their better judgment.

They also stack the books at the end of the movie by not mentioning that Flynnís wife, Patrice Wymore, was present in the house in Vancouver when he died of a pulmonary embolism, even though Aadland was the one who found him. Wymore isnít even a character in the movie.

The only performance that lived up to what was required was Susan Sarandon as Aadlonís ambitious mother, Florence.

August 4, 2014