It is not surprising that the Academy turned its nose up at adventurer-turned-actor Errol Flynn. In his best films, he doesn’t look at all like he’s working—he looks like he’s having the time of his life. And yet, as his frequent costar and, one senses, devoted fan Olivia de Havilland pointed out to premiere, “He was very serious about his career. Because he was serious about success. And his career meant success.

And success, alas, got the better of him, as it allowed him to carouse to almost no end, racking up a statutory rape charge in 1942 (he beat it, and the phrase “In Like Flynn” was coined) and quitting Hollywood, dogged by debt, ten years after that. In 1956 he came back … and played washed-up drunks, more or less. One of his last acts was to pimp his own reprobate status in the memoir My Wicked, Wicked Ways. He was very far from Sherwood Forest when he died at age 50.

Essential Films: Captain Blood (1935), The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), Dodge City (1939), They Died With Their Boots On (1941), Gentleman Jim (1942), Objective Burma! (1945)

Oscar Dish: None.
Movie you have to see right now: The Adventures of Robin Hood, a pure cinematic pleasure.

Errol Flynn 1909-1959