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Errol Flynn Westerns Collection (Montana / Rocky Mountain / San Antonio / Virginia City)

4.4 out of 5 stars 67 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Errol Flynn: The Warner Bros. Western Collection (DVD)

MONTANA Big Sky Country is cattle country! But sheep rancher Flynn has other ideas in this gun-blazing range-war saga. Alexis Smith co-stars. ROCKY MOUNTAIN The Civil War comes to California, and rebel leader Flynn finds that marauding Shoshones may be fiercer foes than the Union Army. With future Mrs. Flynn Patrice Wymore. SAN ANTONIO A man is only as good as his aim when Flynn rides into ol' San Antone to hunt cattle rustlers. A landmark of Western excitement with an amazing saloon shoot-'em-up…and lovely Alexis Smith. VIRGINIA CITY Union officer Flynn goes undercover to stop a gold-laden Nevada wagon train rolling to Dixie. With Randolph Scott and, yes, Humphrey Bogart as a pencil-mustached desperado.


Errol Flynn is primarily recognized for his swashbuckling roles, but let's adjust that. As Frank Thompson notes in his characteristically droll and well-informed commentary on Virginia City, Flynn was born to star in period pictures, and that included Westerns. This son of Tasmania slipped into Stetson and six-gun mode without strain, and without having to conceal his somewhere-in-the-British-Empire accent. Which is only fair: the director of his first three Wild West outings was the Hungarian-born, English-language-mauling Michael Curtiz. Not to beat about the sagebrush, the best of Flynn's Westerns--the Curtiz-directed Dodge City (1939) and Santa Fe Trail (1940), plus Raoul Walsh's They Died With Their Boots On (1942)--are not included in this set. Of the four films that are, Curtiz's Virginia City (1940) is much the liveliest, and certainly the most handsome. Set in the closing months of the Civil War, it's about Confederate loyalists making one last effort to stave off defeat on the battlefields back East by transporting five million dollars in gold from the Nevada mining town of the title. Union spy Flynn spars with Rebel counterpart Randolph Scott, as both also vie for the love of saloon songstress and gold-plot mastermind Miriam Hopkins. Warner Bros. hoped to replicate the Dodge City hit formula, even recycling the same town set (albeit in black and white instead of Technicolor) and re-teaming cinematographer Sol Polito (who was better at black and white anyway), screenwriter Robert Buckner (strewing illogic and coincidence with abandon), and composer Max Steiner, as well as Flynn sidekicks Alan Hale and Guinn "Big Boy" Williams. But who thought of (mis)casting Humphrey Bogart as a Mexican bandito--possibly the nadir of Bogie's life as a contract player? On the upside, extensive location shooting around Flagstaff, Arizona, gave Virginia City by far the most striking scenery of any Flynn Western.

Flynn spent the WWII years concentrating on war-related films, but 1945 found him saddling up again for San Antonio (or did it?--he's clearly doubled in horseback longshots). He plays a Texas rancher turned de facto outlaw by virtue of losing his land in a cattle war and being driven into Mexican exile. Never fear, he's soon finessed his way back across the border and set about undermining those who wronged him and his friends. San Antonio was Flynn's fifth Western but only the second in Technicolor--bright, bold color, and lots of it. Truth to tell, it's a bit of a mishmash, with so much skulking around upstairs, downstairs, and backstage at chief villain Paul Kelly's Bella Union music-hall saloon that it begins to resemble Feydeau farce. The script is credited to Alan Le May (The Searchers) and W.R. Burnett, and the direction to David Butler--though Raoul Walsh is known to have lent a hand (surely "Get that drunken cat off the bar" is a Walsh touch). Leading lady Alexis Smith sings a few songs and her brassy red hair is grand for Technicolor, but her romance with Flynn is a pale shadow of their delightful pairing three years earlier in Gentleman Jim. Warner Home Video has yet to release Walsh's Silver River (1948), the last Flynn Western to boast grade-A production values and co-stars, so that leaves two virtual B movies from 1950 to round out the set. In the 76-minute Montana, an Australian sheepman ventures into Big Sky country, "where cattle was king," and overcomes years of bloody resistance to the idea that sheep and cattle can coexist not only peacefully but profitably. Alexis Smith, who had earned her first billing opposite Flynn in 1941's Dive Bomber and is paired with him for the last time here, inveigles him into a frontier duet.

The somewhat better Rocky Mountain (83 minutes) borrows a leaf from Virginia City to propose another Confederate adventure in the West, an Army patrol attempting to join with Rebel sympathizers in California and foment an armed uprising. The mission gets sidetracked at Ghost Mountain, where the presence of hostile Shoshone Indians urges Rebs and Yankee cavalry to make common cause. Flynn plays it low-key throughout, as though his character, a man of honor in a world that scarcely recalls the notion, had already accepted the lostness of his cause. Each member of Flynn's small command has enough of a backstory to sit around and philosophize about--a narrative tactic anticipating how 90 percent of screentime in the coming decade of Westerns on TV would be filled. William Keighley (who would direct Flynn's last Warner film, The Master of Ballantrae, in 1953) breaks things up as best he can with the multi-tiered rockscape setting. Incidentally, Flynn's leading lady this time is his third and final wife, Patrice Wymore, cast as a Union officer's fiancée whose stagecoach gets ambushed nearby. Each of the films rates its own disc, with accompanying "Warner Night at the Movies" shorts and trailers from the season when the movie was released. Only two boast a commentary, and of these, only the one on Virginia City is worth the listen. Visual and technical quality is excellent overall. --Richard T. Jameson

Special Features

  • Montana
  • Vintage newsreel
  • Joe McDoakes comedy short So You Want a Raise
  • Classic cartoon It's Hummer Time
  • Trailers of Montana and Chain Lightning
  • Bonus gallery of Santa Fe Trail series Western shorts: Oklahoma Outlaws, Wagon Wheels West, and Gun to Gun
  • Rocky Mountain
  • Commentary by Errol Flynn biographer Thomas McNulty
  • Joe McDoakes comedy short So You Want to Move
  • Classic cartoon Two's a Crowd
  • Trailers of Rocky Mountain and The Breaking Point
  • Bonus gallery of Santa Fe Trail series Western shorts: Roaring Guns, Wells Fargo Days, and Trial by Trigger
  • San Antonio
  • Oscar-nominated Vitaphone Varieties short Story of a Dog
  • Vintage shorts Frontier Days and Peeks at Hollywood
  • Classic cartoons A Tale of Two Mice and Wagon Heels
  • Trailers of San Antonio and The Corn Is Green
  • Virginia City
  • Commentary by historian Frank Thompson
  • Technicolor shorts Cinderella's Feller and The Flag of Humanity
  • Classic cartoons Cross Country Detours and Confederate Honey
  • Trailers of Virginia City and A Dispatch from Reuters
  • Making-of featurette: The Light Brigade Rides Again

Product Details

  • Actors: Errol Flynn, Humphrey Bogart, Alexis Smith, Randolph Scott, Miriam Hopkins
  • Directors: Michael Curtiz
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Color, Original recording remastered, Black & White, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 4
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: August 26, 2008
  • Run Time: 518 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0018RU45U
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #88,356 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Errol Flynn Westerns Collection (Montana / Rocky Mountain / San Antonio / Virginia City)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robert M. Fells on July 2, 2008
Format: DVD
There are westerns (with John Wayne, Gary Cooper, directed by John Ford, Howard Hawks, not to mention Roy Rogers and Gene Autry) and then there are Errol Flynn's westerns. I think I saw some of Flynn's westerns on TV before I saw any of the others and was therefore very surprised to find that DODGE CITY, VIRGINIA CITY, THEY DIED WITH THEIR BOOTS ON, etc., were unlike any of the other films in the genre. That said, these films created a unique western sub-genre on their own terms, mainly because Flynn was a unique screen presence and Warners figured out how to tailor stories to his personality.

This four-film collection brings together the less celebrated films. 1940's VIRGINIA CITY is basically a "prequel" to 1939's DODGE CITY with Flynn, Alan Hale, and Guinn "Big Boy" Williams playing virtually the same characters they did in the first film. My guess is that the romantic subplot with Miriam Hopkins (she and Flynn have absolutely NO screen chemistry)would have confused the love match in DODGE CITY had they played the same characters. Basically, VIRGINIA CITY is a shaggy dog story; that is, it starts off great even showing some influence of Ford's STAGECOACH with its extended sequences on a stage coach (and repeating one of STAGECOACH's best stunt scenes). But the plot gets so involved with so many characters that there's enough story for three films. You know things have gotten out of hand when you find yourself rooting for the Bogart character.

VIRGINIA CITY's saving grace is that it is an expertly made production and the money really shows on the screen. Technicolor would have been nice (as in DODGE CITY) but the b/w photography is crisp. Max Steiner contributes another fine score although some of the story's characters, like Frank McHugh, seem to get lost in the plot.
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Format: DVD
Only "Virginia City" has an A-film feel about it with Michael Curtiz directing and notable Warner costars. The other three are B Westerns in my opinion, but Flynn's presence always made any film much better. His performances in all of these films are very good, he just doesn't always have the best material with which to work, and in some cases he is working with some very bizarre casting. The extra features bring this package up to four stars in my opinion, but I don't understand why WHV just didn't go ahead and add "Silver River" to the set and make it the usual five film classic box set. Someone else has already done an excellent job of summarizing each film. So I'll just mention the extra features for the set, the director in each case, and my personal rating of each film on a five star scale:

Montana (1950) directed by Ray Enright. (3/5)
The weakest of the four films in the set.
Extra Features:
Vintage Newsreel
Warner Night at the Movies 1950 Short Subjects Gallery
Joe McDoakes Comedy Short: So You Want a Raise
Classic Cartoon: It's Hummer Time
Trailers of Montana and 1950's Chain Lightning
Bonus Gallery of Santa Fe Trail Series Western Shorts: Oklahoma Outlaws, Wagon Wheels West and Gun to Gun

Rocky Mountain (1950) directed by William Keighley (3.5/5)
Begins well, ends well, but the middle does sag a bit, which is unusual for a Flynn film of any genre.
Extra Features:
Commentary by biographer Thomas McNulty [McNulty looks at Flynn's career, his unique qualities as a Western hero and his romance with costar Patrice Wymore.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Despite Errol Flynn's legacy as the screen's greatest swashbuckler, he, in fact, made more war films and westerns than sword-swinging adventures. While a collection of his often-worthwhile war films hasn't been released, yet, "Errol Flynn Westerns Collection (Montana / Rocky Mountain / San Antonio / Virginia City)" does provide an opportunity to enjoy some of Flynn's lesser-known westerns (chosen, I suspect, because two are in color). While Flynn hated making 'oaters', in general (with the exception of "They Died With Their Boots On"), his natural grace, charm, and riding and shooting skills certainly offset his incongruous Australian accent!

"Virginia City" (1940), is, arguably, the only 'A-list' title of the collection, a quasi-sequel to Flynn's hugely successful 1939 Western debut, "Dodge City", again directed by Michael Curtiz, scored by Max Steiner, and featuring Alan Hale and Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams as his sidekicks. This time around, Flynn is an undercover Union officer hot on the trail of a Confederate gold cache being transported via wagon train by noble Southern officer Randolph Scott. While fading 30s star Miriam Hopkins provided an unconvincing love interest for both Flynn and Scott (as a chanteuse with a pretty awful singing voice), the film is best-remembered for Humphrey Bogart's 'so bad it's good' portrayal of a Mexican bandit, in possibly his worst screen performance! Still, any Flynn/Curtiz collaboration is fun to watch...(3 stars, out of 4)

"San Antonio" (1945), Flynn's first western after a string of war films, was intentionally-contrived light entertainment for the returning G.I.s...
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