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Hollywood stars disgracing themselves on the public stage has become a tradition as American as a Fourth of July parade. But decades ago, the affairs of matinee idol Errol Flynn shocked a nation of movie fans that was still capable of being shocked. Throughout the ’30s and ’40s, the actor had reigned over Hollywood with swashbuckling films such as The Adventures of Robin Hood and Captain Blood.
His personal life, however, would test the forgiveness of his many fans. The actor, who would title his posthumously released memoir My Wicked, Wicked Ways, was accused of statutory rape in 1942. The public stood by him throughout the trial and his subsequent acquittal inspired the phrase “in like Flynn.” However, his career began a slow fade from which it never quite recovered.
The upcoming drama The Last of Robin Hood, which you can see an exclusive scene from above, tells the story of another controversial relationship with another underage girl. Beverly Aadland (Dakota Fanning) was 15 when she met the well past his prime star in the late ’50s. As the still impossibly suave, but aging star, Kevin Kline so well inhabits the New Zealander’s devil-may-care brio, it’s a wonder he hasn’t played Flynn before — although he is said to have passed on previous offers. Susan Sarandon also stars Aaland’s controlling stage mother. The film was directed by Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland who previously helmed the coming-of-age comedy, Quinceanera.
Kline’s not the only star to take on the Hollywood legend. Jude Law had a cameo as Flynn in The Aviator. And Peter O’Toole played a fictionalized version of a Flynn-like star named Alan Swann in the delightful 1982 comedy My Favorite Year.
The Last of Robin Hood opens in limited release on August 29.