This is my first book review, so don't judge too harshly. Ha!
"The confessions of a rake, unsparing of himself or anyone else." -Newsweek
Despite having quite a title, I didn't think is was such a book, to be brutally honest. But the title [which comes from an old cowboy tune whose lyrics were changed by Errol to fit his purpose] is a fitting one, because if Flynnie's ways were anything they were wicked. The version I read was the Original Uncensored Version - sounds sordid doesn't it? According to the introduction, the parts that got cut after the original version weren't the unabashedly racy ones, but the ones where he verbally attacks people like his mother and first wife Lili Damita. I don't know what the censored version is like since I haven't read it, but I imagine it'd be a little tamer and a bit less Errolesque.
Jefferey Myers (who wrote the intro to this book) claimed that this was "the most entertaining autobiography ever by an actor". I must've missed something because I found myself bored stiff at points. That probably because the descriptions of a majority of the women Errol Flynn knew without their clothes on interests me as little as a Justin Bieber biography (that is VERY LITTLE just so you know). I'm pretty sure the two main words in this autobio were whorehouse and sex. So, I just lost interest and how[!!]. Another thing that bothered me was that he looked back on all his years in Hollywood as a complete waste of time - he disliked the vehicles he got stuck with, missed the way he lived in the South Seas, and basically considered the whole career a darned waste of time. Of course, he wanted to do something with his life and never got the chance to do what he thought was something. After the two rape trials of 1943 he stopped really living and turned to keeping up a ridiculous devil-may-care reputation. All this to say it gives a lot of the book a certain dismal, contemptuous aura. There was also a disgraceful lack of Olivia de Havilland appreciation.
On the other hand, Flynn has some good stories about Old Hollywood. A couple of good ones about Bette Davis, a funny one about Raoul Walsh, and an absolutely hysterical story about Paul Lukas. Then, of course, my favorite about Greer Garson [the one where he walked upto her and slapped her rear-end with a friendly "Hiya, Red!"]. Greer Garson - gorgeous, well-bred Miss Garson - and he called her a mischievous imp! That one second only to my love for the story about the time he kicked Hedda Hopper's rear-end in public.
I think if Errol had really applied himself at being an writer he could've done it and been a smashing success, I might add. He's got great style and it makes for great reading. Even if the subjects aren't entirely entrancing. He's also got a way with describing things that make them feel so fantastically real. There are quite a few humorous lines, too - my favorite being: [on his first Hollywood movie role as a corpse in The Case of the Curious Bride] "If you have to be a corpse, sport, I told myself, be magnificent...some people claim it was my best role".
So, this was Errol Flynn. His life and what he had to say about it. But what do I say? Read it. I mean, yes, it was racy - annoying and nigh-on-unreadable for me in that regard - but it was what it was. I really feel like I learned a lot about him and why he did some of the things he did, he gives the reasons rather plainly. It's not a super long read either - 439 pages - I easily read it over ten busy, busy days.
My Wicked, Wicked Ways is a picture of the man - Errol Flynn. His life philosophy, the way he looked at everything. His contradictions and addictions - this was him. And the whole thing leading up to one of the saddest last sentences ever. He was asked at the time of his writing this why he wouldn't wait 10 years and he told the questioner that he might not be alive in ten years. He wasn't. He died before this was published in '59.
The second half-century looms up, but I don't feel the night coming on.
Until Later On ~