B Movie in “The Last of Robin Hood”
At The Theatre With Audrey Linden
Have a great cast with Kevin Kline as Errol Flynn, Dakota Fanning as Beverly Aadland, and Susan Sarandon as Florence Aadland, and you would think this film would have the makings of a block buster film. Error Flynn was larger than life, and lived life full-out. But, somehow, this film did not do justice to “the last Robin Hood”. It seemed more like a “made for T. V. film.” It was not “In with Flynn”.
Kevin Kline bears a striking resemblance to the late Errol Flynn, who died of a heart attack and/or embolism at the age of fifty as his career and finances waned. Kline did not come off as larger than life or as lecherous or as nefarious in having an affair with Beverly Aadland who was all of fifteen years young to his then forty-eight years. Though he looked much older, Kline didn’t come across as drunken, drugged, or as villainous as he could have. In presenting a kinder, cleaned up version, Flynn came across as an aged Romeo in love with a young Juliette. Where was the “swashbuckling” image? Despite some footage of Flynn playing at sword fighting, the image was that of a fallen star who could no longer dazzle an audience. Perhaps he could still dazzle a fifteen year old girl.
The script by Richard Glazer and Wash Westmoreland directed by both of them seemed sympathetic towards the memory of Flynn, and Beverly Aadland, who died in 2010 at the age of sixty-eight. What was so salacious in 1960, with the public’s outrage, seemed almost tame. Was it the script, the directing, the acting? Something was lost in the translation of what had been a scandal in 1960 that destroyed lives and relationships.
Susan Sarandon did a good job in playing the alcoholic, show-biz mother who had groomed her daughter to fulfill her own missed dreams of stardom. But, despite the brassy blonde hair and signature upswept cat’s eyeglasses, Sarandon did not quite capture the alcoholic, blowsy, pushy mother. She wasn’t over bearing enough or drunk enough or screechy enough. She had one scene in which she was drunk and yelling and throwing a rock upstairs to get her daughter's attention.
And, Dakota Fanning, who is a gorgeous creature, was at times very child-like and innocent but at other times too grown up. She did capture the quality of a “wood nymph” and the nickname Flynn gave her, “Woodsie” was apt. But it was hard to believe the lecherous, much older womanizing Flynn, would be so captivated by this naïve innocent young girl. She did not possess the qualities of a “Lolita”, the film Flynn wanted her to co-star with him. The part needed someone a little more voluptuous to be believable.
This seemed the toned down, and tamed version of their salacious affair that had public opinion so against the three of them. It was an apologetic version, and as such, failed to capture the emotionalism and tabloid sensationalism.
As the film opens we see Flynn peering through venetian blinds as Beverly Aadland walks onto the Warner Brothers lot where she is practicing as a dance extra. He is smitten and sends his man to fetch her. That leads to him promising to audition her as he lures young Beverly to his den to seduce her. Despite the cigarette smoking, Fanning does not come across as eighteen. There is an “in with Flynn” quickie rape, and the rest is history as the film goes into flash back after Flynn’s death.
It is Florence Aadland who retells the story, to be published as “The Big Love” as she is dictating it to a ghost writer. She recounts the couple’s two years together. Since she passed her daughter off as eighteen, she is guilty of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Through her eyes, the eyes of a drunken woman whose own dance career was over after she lost a leg in a car accident, the love between her daughter and Flynn was genuine. She went along as the third wheel and chaperone on their dates so the public would not know what really was going on. Flynn took them to New York and insisted on Beverly sharing a room with him and momma bear did not like that, but as Flynn points out, momma bear perpetuated the lie about Beverly’s age with a phony birth certificate.
As the story unfolds through the flash back as Florence is telling the ghost writer the events, we get her distorted view of the relationship as sincere and honorable on both parts. Flynn fails to advance young Beverly’s career despite an effort to sell her as part of a package deal in “Lolita” to Kubrick who says, “She can’t act”. And, as we see, Beverly can’t sing, or act terribly well. She cannot carry on her mother’s dream of show-biz. Flynn produces and directs a cheesy film, starring Beverly, "Cuban Rebel Girls” in Cuba where he is in the throes of malaria. He seemed to have good intentions as he dictated a will to Beverly on hotel stationery leaving her one third of his estate. But, the bloke forgot to sign a signature page. He proposes to her at her 17th birthday bash, in front of his friends. But, he passed away before he could marry her. He dies as he is in Vancouver trying to sell his yacht to raise money to finance his divorce from Patrice Wymore. Ever the ham, even while he is in pain in the doctor’s home, he must recount the story of how a prank was played on him after Barrymore had died. He goes to lie down and is found taking his last breath.
What really happened between these two? I am no clearer after seeing the “washed down” version of the events than I was before I saw the film. The film was dedicated to the memory of Beverly Aadland, who after two divorces had settled in a forty year marriage in Palmdale and had a daughter. Supposedly, Beverly Aadland Fisher told her husband if Flynn were to suddenly materialize, she would be with him. He was the great love of her life. One word. Sad.
Check your local theatre listings to see where “The Last Robin Hood” is playing.
Audrey Linden is a writer, actress and singer. She can be seen in a long-running “Associated Tax Resolution” commercial, two “Little Caesars” spots, a “Teva International Pharmaceutical” short, Gene Simmons’ “Family Jewels,” “America’s Court with Judge Ross,” VHS “Tough Love 2,” “Wendy’s” , “Shimmer” commercial etc.
Audrey teaches ON CAMERA COMMERCIAL and IMPROV COMEDY WORKSHOPS through the City of Beverly Hills. To register, call 310-285-6850. Her classes are held at 241 Moreno Dr. B.H. 90212. Her classes are on-going in June through July and start again in September. For more information, contact Audrey at firstname.lastname@example.org