ADVENTURES OF DON JUAN —-one of wicked, wicked Errol Flynn’s last large-scale sallies as a headliner, this fairly lavish 1949 production is generally fun to watch thanks to a satirical, tongue-in-cheek approach, one that slyly spoofs the image of its star as well as its hero.
Age 38 here, Flynn’s dissipation shows, but debauchery aside, he still cuts a dashing figure and his performance is droll. Alan Hale co-stars, his pal for the 13th and final time, here under the direction of Vincent Sherman, who endured a lengthy shoot with significant cost overruns. Much ado was due to Flynn’s escapades and drinking, the movie going half a million Truman dollars over budget, clocking $3,500,000 for increasingly agitated producer Jerry Wald and studio tyrannosaurus Jack Warner (budgets on future Flynn films were cut back as a result). As the actor would later write “I found that at the top of the world there was nothing. I was sitting on the pinnacle, with no mountain under me.”
The script (which had gone through a number of hands, including William Faulkner and Max Brand) does whatever it feels like with the legendary Don Juan, jettisoning the older tales and having the Lothario trying to help out Queen Margaret of Spain (Viveca Lindfors) while acting as fencing instructor. Can he foil the nefarious plotting of ‘Duke de Lorca’ (Robert Douglas)? Will it demand one hell of a sword-fight?
The sets are classy (check out that staircase), Technicolor is lush and Max Steiner’s sparkling score is one of his most exquisite. Script is more fun in the first half of the 110 minutes, but the dandy rapier-sparring in the third act makes up for any lost steam.
Opening scene on a moonlit balcony—DON JUAN:”I have loved you since the beginning of time.” DAMSEL: “But you only met me yesterday.” DON JUAN: “That was when time began.” DAMSEL: “But you made love to so many women.” DON JUAN: “Catherine, an artist may paint a thousand canvases before achieving on work of art–would you deny a lover the same practice?”
The movie took in $5,000,000, mostly from success in Europe (it was 55th in the States), not enough to please Warner Brothers after the cost factor. Oscar winner for Costume Design, nominated for Art Direction.
With Romney Brent, Ann Rutherford, Robert Warwick, Jerry Austin, Douglas Kennedy and Una O’Connor.