TCM Spotlight: Errol Flynn Adventures (Desperate Journey / Edge of Darkness 1943 / Northern Pursuit / Uncertain Glory / Objective Burma)
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That zone is a compelling place, and often emotionally potent. The earliest (1942) of the films is also the lightest in tone: Walsh's Desperate Journey has a joshing attitude that belies its title. Flynn plays the Aussie leader of a multinational bomber crew that crash-lands in Germany (where the Germans actually speak German) and must make its way across hostile territory to safety--a suspenseful setup that allows for some derring-do and wisecracking on the trip (although Flynn and Walsh are adept at shifting gears from comedy to heroism at a moment's notice). Ronald Reagan plays a flippant US flyboy and enjoys one of his best moments on screen with an engaging scene of double talk.
Edge of Darkness, directed by Lewis Milestone, is an extraordinarily powerful 1943 film about a defiant band of resisters in a small seaside town in Nazi-occupied Norway. Serious and stirring, with messages aplenty about the importance of solidarity and sacrifice during wartime, the movie goes all the way and then some. Flynn tamps down his usual jocularity, folding himself into a remarkable ensemble (we're talking at least a dozen significant roles here) that includes Walter Huston, Ann Sheridan, Judith Anderson, and Ruth Gordon.
By comparison, Northern Pursuit is tame, with Flynn in snowy Canada, escorting a Nazi (Helmut Dantine) to custody… or is he? The question mark is about the only interesting wrinkle in this far-fetched picture, although Flynn doesn't embarrass himself. Ah, but our man slips into fine form in 1944's Uncertain Glory, a crackerjack premise that allows Flynn to exude his more roguish charms. His character is a convicted killer scheduled for the guillotine, and he and his guardian (Paul Lukas) contemplate the possibility of the doomed man falsely turning himself in as a wanted saboteur; the Nazis are holding 100 locals hostage to slaughter if the real saboteur doesn't turn himself in, and after all, wouldn't a Nazi firing squad be preferable to the guillotine?
Much larger in scope, and a demonstration of Walsh's talent for dynamic compositions and irresistible narrative flow, is Objective, Burma!, a tough battle epic in which the soldiers get realistically grimy. Flynn's platoon parachutes into Burma for a mission--but the real challenge is trekking back out again. Harrowing in both its suggestion of Japanese atrocities and its willingness to kill off characters you didn't expect to see die, this film must surely have been an influence on Saving Private Ryan. Flynn--who was 4F during the war, for various physical ailments--acquits himself nobly, proof that he was more than a swashbuckler.
The only commentary track comes with Objective, Burma!, while the other discs are filled out with fun Warner Night at the Movies shorts and newsreels; you won't want to miss the surreal "Borrah Minnevitch and His Harmonica School." --Robert Horton
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Desperate Journey (1942) - directed by Raoul Walsh
Warner Night at the Movies 1942 Short Subjects Gallery:
Oscar-Nominated Patriotic Short The Tanks Are Coming
Musical Shorts Borrah Minnevitch and His Harmonica School and The United States Army Air Force Band
Classic Cartoon The Dover Boys at Pimento University or the Rivals of Roquefort Hall
Trailers of Desperate Journey and 1942's Murder in the Big House
Edge of Darkness (1943)-directed by Lewis Milestone
Warner Night at the Movies 1943 Short Subjects Gallery:
Musical Short The United States Service Bands
Classic Cartoons Hiss and Make Up and To Duck....Read more ›
"Desperate Journey" (1942): Aussie co-pilot Flynn's disregard to his captain's orders to remain at high altitude on a bombing mission over Poland gets the plane shot down, the captain killed, and Flynn and crewmates Ronald Reagan, Alan Hale, Arthur Kennedy, and Ronald Sinclair pursued across Europe by stereotypical Nazi villain Raymond Massey, and the most inept collection of German soldiers since "Hogan's Heroes"...This film is NOT to be taken seriously (in case you weren't sure), but to be enjoyed as one of the wildest, zaniest, most exciting adventure films of WWII. Director Raoul Walsh pulled out all the stops...and listen for Flynn's final line..."Now for Australia, and a crack at those Japs!", which had audiences in stitches, even in 1942! (4 1/2 stars, out of 5)
"Edge of Darkness" (1943): If "Desperate Journey" was unabashed silliness, "Edge" was a strong, brooding ensemble drama, filmed with director Lewis Milestone's compassion and understanding. Framed with a "Beau Geste"-style opening (in a ruined, deserted Norwegian village), the tale is told in flashback, as the Germans hold the village under an iron thumb.Read more ›
An efficient cast completes the whole work.
Here in one collection are those films. They range in quality, not only with respect to the films but also to Flynn's acting. In some (e.g., Objective Burma) he is the old recognizable hero, while in others he pulls back the throttle (e.g., Edge of Darkness) and in others the old Flynn will not be recognizable (e.g., Uncertain Glory).
This is an absolute must for Flynn fans.
We see him here at the peak of his powers, trying to change course, but the strong currents of his past will be impossible to steer against. Ahead lay the rocks of obscurity and undistinguished roles, the descent into alcoholism and drug abuse, the failure of his multiple marriages, and the self-parody. Near the end, the sun will rise once more and he will finally get the chance to reach the shores he yearned for. But in this remarkable collection we get a glimpse of the giant before the fall.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Errol Flynn was great in another of his WW 2 performances. The additional cast mates made the story even more interesting, lots of action and intrigue make the movie flow well. Read morePublished 2 days ago by Ourayman
A must have for Errol Flynn fans. Every movie is great. Excellent detail in the copies - video and audio.Published 7 days ago by Atokaman
A really nice collection of Flynn films. I especially like Desperate Journey. These movies really show Flynn off as a real fine actor. Read morePublished 19 days ago by DWinston
I love Errol Flynn war movies! Each of the 5 movies was excellent. Great gift of any old war movie buffs!Published 1 month ago by Hannah Bowers
I bought this set along with the TCM Errol Flynn 'Swashbuckler' set. While that shows off Flynn's great on screen presence as swashbuckler, or
witty archer of Sherwood... Read more
All of these films are over-the-top in that wonderful old Warner Brothers way, and they're too much fun not to watch repeatedly.Published 3 months ago by Greg
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