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Play That Rocky Theme - It's Clark Gable Vs. Errol Flynn


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Being that my grandmother was a pugilism fan and actually saw Gentleman Jim Corbett in action, she said Flynn did an admirable job playing him in films. So I will go with Flynn as being superior to Gable. I heard he was kind of a wimp in his hometown area of Martin's Ferry.

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15 minutes ago, EugeniaH said:

In a related battle, Flynn was a better actor but Gable was sexier.  ?

Interesting.   As you know Flynn is often knocked for not being good actor and Gable was the King.   

As it relates to acting, I wouldn't say one was better than the other (both good), but Gable's showed some chops in some of his later films (like his last one),  when Flynn was sadly too out of it to give a great performance. 

As for their looks?   Flynn over Gable, by a ear  (or make that a pair of them!).

 

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14 minutes ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

 

As it relates to acting, I wouldn't say one was better than the other (both good), but Gable's showed some chops in some of his later films (like his last one),  when Flynn was sadly too out of it to give a great performance. 

 

 

I can't agree with that. Flynn gave a touching, vulnerable performance as John Barrymore in Too Much Too Soon, even if that performance, along with his previous one in Sun Also Rises, can be seen as playing himself to a large extent.

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I agree that Gable was exceptional in The Misfits.

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18 minutes ago, TomJH said:

I can't agree with that. Flynn gave a touching, vulnerable performance as John Barrymore in Too Much Too Soon, even if that performance, along with his previous one in Sun Also Rises, can be seen as playing himself to a large extent.

 

I agree that Gable was exceptional in The Misfits.

In both films Flynn was mostly being just who he currently was.    A drunken has-been. 

 

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16 minutes ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

In both films Flynn was mostly being just who he currently was.    A drunken has-been. 

 

To dismiss Flynn as a drunken has been in those two films is completely unfair.

He channeled his own demons into the roles and gave highly effective portrayals, even if they can be seen as autobiographical in nature. Both performances work well.

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13 minutes ago, Bethluvsfilms said:

Gable and Flynn were both great actors when they wanted to be. I can't see Gable as Robin Hood though, any more than I could see Flynn as Rhett Butler.

I see them as equals, neither one better than the other.

I dunno, Beth.

While I'd also say there was no way Gable could play Robin Hood, as he always pretty much projected the American male archetype in his roles, I COULD see Flynn as Rhett Butler being very good in the role.

(...in fact, as I recall, wasn't there some talk before the final casting of the Butler role that if Selznick couldn't get his first pick of Gable for it, Flynn was on the short list of alternates?)

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6 minutes ago, Dargo said:

 

(...in fact, as I recall, wasn't there some talk before the final casting of the Butler role that if Selznick couldn't get his first pick of Gable for it, Flynn was on the short list of alternates?)

I thought Flynn was in the running for Ashley Wilkes, unless I heard wrong.

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41 minutes ago, Dargo said:

I dunno, Beth.

While I'd also say there was no way Gable could play Robin Hood, as he always pretty much projected the American male archetype in his roles, I COULD see Flynn as Rhett Butler being very good in the role.

(...in fact, as I recall, wasn't there some talk before the final casting of the Butler role that if Selznick couldn't get his first pick of Gable for it, Flynn was on the short list of alternates?)

Warners had offered Selznick a package deal of Flynn and Bette Davis for GWTW, something Davis refused to do regarding Errol as inadequate for the role of Rhett Butler. I've never heard of any comment that Flynn may have made regarding this.

The public, in any case, clearly wanted Gable (though Gable himself was initially resistant to playing Rhett). Without GWTW as part of his career, I wonder how well Gable would be remembered today. I suspect that this film and The Misfits (primarily because of Marilyn Monroe) may be Gable's two best known films today to the general public.

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41 minutes ago, Bethluvsfilms said:

I thought Flynn was in the running for Ashley Wilkes, unless I heard wrong.

Hmmmm...you might be right here, Beth. I do know Flynn's name was mentioned in some regard back then, anyway. 

But then again, with Flynn's image in the eyes of the public already being well established for his earlier roles as a heroic and roguish sort in movies, I would think that that sort of image alone would have been better suited to him playing the same sort(the Butler role) than it would the more reserved and gentlemanly role of Ashley, wouldn't you say? 

***edit to follow***

Thanks for your input here, Tom. I knew if anybody around here would know an answer to a question which would involve Flynn, you would!

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In his autobiography Flynn referred to Gable as "a pal." Gable once made a comment about Flynn, referring to him as a "tough son-of-a-****."

This is the only photograph that I have ever seen of them together socializing.

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They can also be seen sitting beside one another at the 1949 MGM Golden Jubilee promotion by the studio (Flynn was briefly there making a film on loan out from Warners).

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These are the only two photos that I have ever seen of these two Hollywood super stars together.

 

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4 hours ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

Interesting.   As you know Flynn is often knocked for not being good actor and Gable was the King.   

 

It's true that Flynn never got much respect from the critics for his acting ability (something that bothered Errol though he tried to pretend otherwise).

Buster Wiles, a stunt man and friend of Flynn's, said that Eddie Albert once told Flynn he thought him a very good actor. Flynn dismissed the comment (he was always modest about his acting talents), thinking that he was kidding but when Albert convinced him of the sincerity of his comment Albert later said there were tears in Errol's eyes.

One comment I will make about Flynn's convincing versatility as a screen man of action: he was the ONLY actor of his time who was a top box office performer in three different action genres: swashbuckling costumers, westerns and war dramas. In fact, Flynn was the ONLY non American born actor who was top box office in westerns in the United States during the late '30s and '40s.

 

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3 minutes ago, TomJH said:

It's true that Flynn never got much respect from the critics for his acting ability (something that bothered Errol though he tried to pretend otherwise).

Buster Wiles, a stunt man and friend of Flynn's, said that Eddie Albert once told Flynn he thought him a very good actor. Flynn dismissed the comment (he was always modest about his acting talents), thinking that he was kidding but when Albert convinced him of the sincerity of his comment Albert later said there were tears in Errol's eyes.

One comment I will make about Flynn's convincing versatility as a screen man of action: he was the ONLY actor of his time who was a top box office performer in three different action genres: swashbuckling costumers, westerns and war dramas. In fact, Flynn was the ONLY non American born actor who was top box office in westerns in the United States during the late '30s and '40s.

 

I believe Flynn was a very good actor especially in period \ adventure films (which includes swashbuckling and western films).   In fact I can't think of another actor I care to watch more in those type of films than Flynn.     As noted he was also first rate in war dramas. 

I like Gable in mostly contemporary films (e.g. films where he wore a suit).    He just was in his element in those films.    This was true for some other of my favorite actors as well;  Grant, Bogie,  Cagney, Powell,     

But both actors did make some fine films outside those sub-genres.   E.g. Gable of course in GWTW.   But overall when they were in their element they were very convincing and authentic.    

 

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1 hour ago, Dargo said:

Hmmmm...you might be right here, Beth. I do know Flynn's name was mentioned in some regard back then, anyway. 

But then again, with Flynn's image in the eyes of the public already being well established for his earlier roles as a heroic and roguish sort in movies, I would think that that sort of image alone would have been better suited to him playing the same sort(the Butler role) than it would the more reserved and gentlemanly role of Ashley, wouldn't you say? 

 

Flynn probably could have pulled off the role of Rhett.....I think it was just meant to be that Clark Gable would be immortalized forever in the role.

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  • 3 weeks later...

After reading this thread, I've come to the conclusion that if I needed some muscle to back me up from the school bully who stole my lunch money every other day, I'd pick Clark Gable.  If I wanted someone to ease my troubled mind with a bedtime story, I'd take Errol Flynn...he had the kind of soothing voice that could melt bricks.

On the plus side for both guys, they were two of several classic Hollywood actors that could rock a mustache!

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29 minutes ago, midwestan said:

After reading this thread, I've come to the conclusion that if I needed some muscle to back me up from the school bully who stole my lunch money every other day, I'd pick Clark Gable.  If I wanted someone to ease my troubled mind with a bedtime story, I'd take Errol Flynn...he had the kind of soothing voice that could melt bricks.

On the plus side for both guys, they were two of several classic Hollywood actors that could rock a mustache!

Yet Flynn was the one who had a troubled reputation for getting into brawls in his private life. He knew how to take care of himself a fight.

David Niven related an anecdote of a stunt man on the set of Charge of the Light Brigade sticking a spear in the butt of Flynn's horse, causing the horse to rear up with Flynn taking a tumble. After Flynn got up and told the stunt man to get off his horse they had a fight in front of everyone, with the stunt man flat on his back after it was all over.  I figure any stunt man had to be a pretty tough guy.

Flynn had a screen image, certainly during his younger days, of physical elegance while Gable always seemed a bit more of a brute. But Flynn could be a tough guy, having been raised as an adventurer in the wilds of Australia and, particularly, New Guinea.

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2 hours ago, TomJH said:

Yet Flynn was the one who had a troubled reputation for getting into brawls in his private life. He knew how to take care of himself a fight.

David Niven related an anecdote of a stunt man on the set of Charge of the Light Brigade sticking a spear in the butt of Flynn's horse, causing the horse to rear up with Flynn taking a tumble. After Flynn got up and told the stunt man to get off his horse they had a fight in front of everyone, with the stunt man flat on his back after it was all over.  I figure any stunt man had to be a pretty tough guy.

Flynn had a screen image, certainly during his younger days, of physical elegance while Gable always seemed a bit more of a brute. But Flynn could be a tough guy, having been raised as an adventurer in the wilds of Australia and, particularly, New Guinea.

There's also the infamous story about a brawl between Flynn and John Huston.  It apparently went on forever with both men ending up in the hospital. 

I will assume that the fight was declared a draw.

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6 minutes ago, speedracer5 said:

There's also the infamous story about a brawl between Flynn and John Huston.  It apparently went on forever with both men ending up in the hospital. 

I will assume that the fight was declared a draw.

It's interesting that Huston had some colourful anecdotes about that fight, saying that Errol knocked him down several times and he rolled away from him for fear of being kicked in the side. He said Flynn didn't try it and was very sporting, allowing him to get to his feet again before they resumed battle (apparently it lasted the better part of an hour but who knows, Flynn wasn't in the best of shape).

Of course, some years later they had clearly patched things up as they made The Roots of Heaven together.

As famous as this fight was, I've never heard that Flynn ever spoke about it.

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9 minutes ago, TomJH said:

It's interesting that Huston had some colourful anecdotes about that fight, saying that Errol knocked him down several times and he rolled away from him for fear of being kicked in the side. He said Flynn didn't try it and was very sporting, allowing him to get to his feet again before they resumed battle (apparently it lasted the better part of an hour but who knows, Flynn wasn't in the best of shape).

Of course, some years later they had clearly patched things up as they made The Roots of Heaven together.

As famous as this fight was, I've never heard that Flynn ever spoke about it.

I can't remember if Flynn makes any reference to it in his autobiography.  I've read multiple accounts of this fight throughout the years (not sure if the articles were based on the memories of someone who was actually there or whether the article was just based on legend) and even listened to a segment about it on the podcast I listen to, "You Must Remember This."  I've also read different accounts of what the fight was about.  Some claim that Huston said something derogatory about a woman either Flynn was with at the party or just another woman at the party; the podcast I listen to said that the fight was over Olivia de Havilland. 

Then there is another story that I believe Flynn does tell in his autobiography about him beating up a newspaper reporter at a nightclub. The reporter had written some unflattering things about Flynn regarding Flynn's supposed lack of concern after his beloved dog Arlo was lost at sea. In his autobiography, Flynn states that he searched all evening for his dog and either never found him, or ended up finding him and had to bury him I can't remember.  Nonetheless, he lost his beloved companion.

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