Monday, July 23, 2012

Errol Flyn and Fidel Castro (1959)

I never really know what I am going to post from day to day. Sometimes I get lucky and have 2 or 3 things done ahead of schedule, but mostly I just wing it. That explains the topic of today’s post. I was a bit bored and so I decided to watch the Bonus Materials on the 2nd disc of one of my favorite movies, “Robin Hood”, with Errol Flynn and Olivia DeHavilland. I had never looked at the 2nd disc before, and  decided to take a peek at it.

Aside from the usual cartoon, and newsreel, was a short film called “The Cruise of the Zaca”, which is a 20 minute film written and directed by Errol Flynn himself. The film concerns his yacht and a trip he made with the scientists and marine biologists from the California Institute of Oceanography in California. His father, Theodore Flynn, who was a Professor of Marine Biology in Ireland, was also aboard for the voyage to the South Seas. There, they would collect various forms of marine life, which would then be compared to specimens taken from other parts of the world. The goal, of course, was to prove the connectivity of the various life forms irrespective of their separate environments.
The film is actually a composite made of several short trips which were taken over a period of a year and a half. The film is so interesting, and the man so different from the Errol Flynn we know from the screen, that I was going to post it. So, off I went to You Tube. Alas, the film is only available on the bonus disc for “Robin Hood”.
But I did run across this very interesting piece of film from a TV show circa 1959, apparently just after Castro seized power from Batista. Errol Flynn seems to have been along for at least part of the struggle that ended with Castro’s victory in January of 1959. (Errol Flynn passed away from liver disease shortly after that.) From the interview it appears that he was an “observer” of sorts, and he is very specific that he was a non-combatant. This was also interesting to me as his son became a photo journalist and went missing in the Vietnam War.
This is a very unique piece of TV journalism; encompassing, as it does; not only Mr. Flynn’s celebrity status, but also his views of Fidel Castro and his fight to free Cuba from a puppet government. Of special note are his views on the reports of executions without trials, which he excuses as sometimes being necessary to accomplish a nearly impossible goal.  He is, of course , referring to the execution of scores of soldiers still loyal to the ousted Batista.

Contrasted with today’s views on the subject of Human Rights, it is, at first, hard to fathom. But, when you come right down to it, Batista was a puppet dictator, living off the fat of the Mafia and the CIA, both of whom had substantial blood on their own hands concerning Cuba.
Errol Flynn was an enigma. From his torrid affair with Olivia DeHavilland, to his alleged homosexual trysts and drug use, he was a very complicated man. This is not an excuse on my part for anything Mr. Flynn did; or didn’t do; just an observation. Anyway, if you have never seen, or heard about Mr. Flynn’s involvement with Castro, and the Revolution in Cuba, you’re not alone. This is one story I will be looking into further, and I will be sure to pass on whatever I do find out.

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