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THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE has all the earmarks of a Hollywood history lesson all over it; the film is wonderfully entertaining, but inaccurate to the point of whitewashing anything distasteful or cinematically inconvenient, not to mention much of what we see is the fanciful fabrication of the screenwriters. Fortunately for all concerned, THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE is only a movie and not a textbook (heck, the Tennyson’s poem doesn’t even survive the Hollywood treatment intact). However, this action packed tale features Errol Flynn in the role Major Geoffrey Vickers, an officer in the British Lancers, who is stationed in India during the 1850s. The British decision to cut off aid to Suristan leads Surat Khan (C. Henry Gordon) to align himself with Russia, along with a massacre of hundreds of women and children. As expected, our hero swears vengeance, but before the end credits roll, the audience experiences a number of terrific action set pieces, as well as love triangle featuring Flynn, Olivia de Havilland and Patric Knowles. The cast of THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE also includes Henry Stephenson, Nigel Bruce, Donald Crisp, David Niven, G.P. Huntley, Robert Barrat, Spring Byington, E.E. Clive and J. Carrol Naish.


Although a remake of the 1930 Howard Hawks film, THE DAWN PATROL offers up plenty of entertainment value in its tale of daring World War One British airmen. Flynn portrays the decidedly dashing, but somewhat reckless Captain Courtney, who manages to stay alive, while many of his fellow squadron members don’t return from their missions over German territory. Basil Rathbone is Major Brand, who has the thankless task of sending inexperienced airmen to their deaths in rickety, bullet-ridden crates that seem to be held together with spit and bailing wire. Of course, it is with a totally sense of irony that Courtney finds himself promoted into Brand’s position of sending other young flyer’s to their deaths, when one of Courtney’s unauthorized and reckless stunts results in a smashing success. The cast of THE DAWN PATROL also features David Niven, Donald Crisp, Melville Cooper, Barry Fitzgerald, Carl Esmond, Peter Willes, Morton Lowry and Michael Brooke.


DIVE BOMBER maintains the aviation theme for a second round in this set, with this pre WWII drama serving as something of a Hollywood rallying cry for America’s inevitable entry into the war. Produced in cooperation with the Navy, DIVE BOMBER showcases some very cool aerial footage featuring the aircraft of the day. In DIVE BOMBER, Errol Flynn portrays Naval surgeon Doug Lee, who becomes invested in discovering a method of preventing pilots from blacking out due to the rapid descents from high altitudes. The film’s dramatic structure is workmanlike, everything is reasonably entertaining, but this movie definitely not the highlight of this particular boxed set. In addition to Flynn, the cast of DIVE BOMBER also features Fred MacMurray, Ralph Bellamy, Alexis Smith, Robert Armstrong, Regis Toomey, Allen Jenkins, Craig Stevens and Herbert Anderson.


Without a doubt, GENTLEMAN JIM is one of Errol Flynn’s best vehicles and finds the actor offering up one of his finest performances. In this terrific Hollywood biopic, GENTLEMAN JIM Flynn finds himself in the role of pugilist James J. Corbett, who helped take the sport of boxing from little more organized street brawling to the "sweet science" it is has become recognized as. Flynn is a real charmer as Corbett and the film nicely traces the boxer’s career, which culminates, with his winning the heavyweight title from John L. Sullivan (Ward Bond). The cast of GENTLEMAN JIM also features Alexis Smith, Jack Carson, Alan Hale, John Loder, William Frawley, Minor Watson, Ward Bond, Madeleine LeBeau and Rhys Williams.


Although it has its detractors, THE ADVENTURES OF DON JUAN is actually one of this reviewer’s personal favorite amongst Errol Flynn’s movies. THE ADVENTURES OF DON JUAN is a fun swashbuckler that truly shines in glorious Technicolor. With his reputation proceeding him all across Europe, Don Juan (Flynn) finds himself disgracing Spain one too many times, with one of his latest romantic escapades spoiling a marriage with political ramifications for his homeland. Recalled to Spain to face the consequences, performs his contrition for the beauteous Queen Margaret (Viveca Lindfors), by imparting his knowledge of swordplay to a younger generation. For much of the time, THE ADVENTURES OF DON JUAN maintains a very light comic tone, which plays up the humorous aspects of our hero’s romantic entanglements. Only the final act seems to take on a serious tone, when the enemies of the state rear their ugly heads against Queen and country. The cast of THE ADVENTURES OF DON JUAN also features Robert Douglas, Alan Hale, Romney Brent, Ann Rutherford, Robert Warwick, Jerry Austin, Douglas Kennedy, Jean Shepherd, Mary Stuart, Helen Westcott, Fortunio Bonanova, Aubrey Mather, Una O'Connor and Raymond Burr.


Warner Home Video has made all the movies that comprise the ERROL FLYNN: THE SIGNATURE COLLECTION, VOLUME 2 available on DVD in the proper 4:3 full screen aspect ratios of their theatrical releases. THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE is offered in a fairly good-looking black and white transfer, although the film elements are somewhat inconsistent. There are some rough patches, with moments of print damage and footage taken off of lesser generation elements. THE DAWN PATROL is also black and white, but the film elements are somewhat stronger and provide for a more satisfying visual experience. DIVE BOMBER was a Technicolor production, but the transfer is only an adequate representation of what the original IB prints might have looked like. Colors are a little iffy in places and the presentation probably could have looked better. GENTLEMAN JIM has been given a terrific black and white presentation that is crisp and nicely defined. Visually, THE ADVENTURES OF DON JUAN is the crown jewel of this collection; with the presentation really capturing the flavor of old style Technicolor, although the film hasn’t undergone the kind of handling reserved for films of a much more classic stature. In varying degrees, all of the films show some signs of age and film grain. Digital compression artifacts are never a concern anywhere across the boxed set.

All of the films in the ERROL FLYNN: THE SIGNATURE COLLECTION, VOLUME 2 come with pretty good sounding Dolby Digital monaural soundtracks. As expected, the majority of background hiss and audible anomalies have been cleaned during the mastering process. Fidelity has the expected limitations of films from the 1930s and 1940s; the music can be a little thin in places, while the sound effects sound canned. Fortunately, dialogue is always crisp and completely understandable. No other language tracks have been included on the DVDs, but English and Spanish subtitles are provided.

Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplements that have been spread out across the collection. Individual disc supplements are as follows: THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE comes with the Warner Night At The Movies 1936 Short Subjects Gallery featuring: a vintage newsreel, the Oscar-winning drama short Give Me Liberty, the comedy short Shop Talk with Bob Hope, the classic cartoon Boom Boom and Theatrical Trailer. THE DAWN PATROL comes with the Warner Night At The Movies 1938 Short Subjects Gallery featuring: a vintage newsreel, musical shorts The Prisoner Of Swing and Romance Road, the classic cartoon What Price Porky? and Theatrical Trailer. DIVE BOMBER comes with a new Featurette: Dive Bomber: Keep 'Em In The Air and Theatrical Trailer.

GENTLEMAN JIM comes with the Warner Night At The Movies 1942 Short Subjects Gallery featuring: a vintage newsreel, sports shorts Shoot Yourself Some Golf (with Ronald Reagan & Jane Wyman) and The Right Timing, the classic cartoon Foney Fables, a Theatrical Trailer, plus the Audio-only bonus: radio show adaptation with Errol Flynn, Alexis Smith, and Ward Bond. THE ADVENTURES OF DON JUAN comes with a running Audio Commentary featuring director Vincent Sherman and historian Rudy Behlmer. Additionally, the disc also includes the Warner Night At The Movies 1948 Short Subjects Gallery featuring: a vintage newsreel, Oscar-nominated Joe McDoakes comedy short So You Want To Be On The Radio, Oscar-nominated travel short Calgary Stampede, the classic cartoon Hare Splitter and a Theatrical Trailer.

ERROL FLYNN: THE SIGNATURE COLLECTION, VOLUME 2 is a big box of old style Hollywood entertainment that is hard to beat. Warner has done a fine job with the films in the collection, offering solid presentations and fine extras. If you are an Errol Flynn fan or just love old movies, ERROL FLYNN: THE SIGNATURE COLLECTION, VOLUME 2 is something you’ll want to add to you collection. Highly recommended.

Note: the collection is available for $49.98, while the individual films can be had for $19.98 each.



The Errol Flynn Signature Collection, Vol. 2 (The Charge of the Light Brigade / Gentleman Jim / The Adventures of Don Juan / The Dawn Patrol / Dive Bomber)



DVD reviews are Copyright © 2007 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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