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‘The Adventures of Don Juan’ (review)

As I’ve gotten older, I often look back at favorites from my childhood with a certain sense of misty-eyed nostalgia.

One of my first cinematic memories was attending a screening of The Adventures of Robin Hood with my father.

To this day, it’s one of the most magical movies that I’ve ever seen.

Apparently, the powers that be agreed that star Errol Flynn’s Technicolor adventure deserved another and it took a decade for, the studio to release The Adventures of Don Juan.

Warner Bros. director Vincent Sherman reunited Flynn with several of his Robin Hood co-stars including Alan Hale, Robert Warwick, and Una O’Connor.

In the film, now available on Blu-ray from The Warner Archive, Don Juan de Maraña (Flynn) is a Spanish nobleman with a reputation for having many lovers, but the woman who has truly captured his heart is none other than Queen Margaret (Viveca Lindfors), who is unhappily married to King Philip III (Romney Brent).

When Don Juan uncovers a plot by the devious Duke de Lorca (Robert Douglas) to dethrone the royal family, he rallies his trusted friends and rushes to defend both his country and his beloved queen.

The results, however, aren’t quite as successful.

Offscreen, Flynn’s declining health which included a mild heart condition, hepatitis and alcoholism and two statutory rape charges definitely impeded his performance here.  Everything should work, but it’s just not as lively and at times, his performance feels forced.  Costume dramas had fallen out of favor, with audiences more interested in Westerns and war pictures.

With Flynn losing 64 days of shooting from his various illnesses, the final product shows the beginning of the end of the iconic actor, looking puffy and often lacking his natural charm that propelled much of his career.

The film also used footage from two other Flynn and Hale movies, Adventures of Robin Hood and The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex.

Visually the film looks beautiful. The cinematography is stunning and the costumes are works of art.

Extras include commentary and Warner Night at the Movies featurette containing two shorts, one cartoon and a newsreel.

Ultimately, The Adventures of Don Juan isn’t a bad film. There’s plenty of stuff to like. The problem is that Flynn had done already before with far greater success.

 

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