Dodge City: Review
All though most people think of Errol Flynn as a swashbuckling adventurer upon the high seas rather than on a high horse, or as a defender of the peasants in a wooded forest rather than of the people of the old west, the dashingly handsome actor from Tasmania appeared in many more cowboy movies than you might imagine, including the early Technicolor Western, Dodge City.
The first time I saw Flynn in a Western I’ll admit it took a bit of getting use to. I mean I was use to seeing him wearing tights and brandishing a sword in films where a nondescript accent is more than acceptable, but one doesn’t expect to hear a cowboy with an Australian lilt (no matter how slight). Still, Flynn’s rugged charm and natural bravado exudes all the qualities one expects from a hero of the west, and that makes up for a lot. In fact, it’s likely you’ll want to see more of Flynn in spurs, brandishing a six shooter after you’ve seen him in Dodge City, his very first Western.
Dodge City stars Flynn opposite his most frequent leading lady, Olivia de Havilland in their fifth of eight films together. Here he is a cattle wrangler who gets caught up with some local shenanigans in the famed city of the west, and she is a young settler who blames Flynn for the death of her reckless brother. His character is a strong but wandering type (thus explaining his less than rustic accent). So, after bringing in a heard of cattle and some settlers into town his only desire is to move on to the next job, but the careless death of a young boy causes him to reconsider his responsibility to the people who need him. Of course, in the process of cleaning up the town Flynn makes some vast improvements in his relationship with de Havilland and everyone lives happily ever after.
It’s a much more complicated story than its simplicity implies, complete with cattle stampedes, an attempted mob lynching, and a run away train burning out of control. However, it doesn’t really matter what the story is, these two stars are always particularly good together regardless of the backdrop. De Havilland and Flynn are simply one of the all time greatest leading couples, complementing each other to perfection on screen. As manly as he was she brought out his gentility, and although he seemed to rile her up to no end he always managed to temper her spunk with the sincerity of his heart.
The reality of Flynn and de Havilland’s relationship transcends the screen; full of real emotion and concern for one another that always seems so real. And there’s a good reason for that. By all accounts Flynn carried a torch for de Havilland for years, and she held some real feelings for him, but she required exclusivity and Flynn (a notorious ladies man) never seemed to manage that, especially when he was married. So, instead of a great behind the scenes romance, the two unforgettable actors experienced a variety of romances on the screen, undoubtedly enhanced by their long and platonic admiration for one another off screen – perhaps the greatest and happiest ending Flynn could ever hope for.