—A Fun Flynn RomCom—
Bogie Film Fix:
Director: James V. Kern
A divorced artist (Errol Flynn) tries to control his appetite for women while attempting to win back the heart of his ex (Eleanor Parker).
What I Thought
I’ve always made the argument that George Clooney must be an enormous Cary Grant fan – modeling so much of his onscreen persona after the classic leading man, but after watching Never Say Goodbye, I’m ready to add Errol Flynn to Clooney’s list of obvious influences.
This is the first Flynn film that I’ve seen where he didn’t play an action hero, and even though the movie never reaches much beyond light romantic comedy, Flynn’s charisma elevates it from watchable to entertaining.
The best part of this script is that there is some question about how the rekindled romance between Flynn and Parker might resolve itself. The addition of Forrest Tucker (Yes, F Troop!) as Corporal ‘Wickie’ is what really gets the juices rolling here and it adds a fun love triangle to the film. Tucker’s timing mixed in with Parker’s doe-eyed act and Flynn’s exasperated frustration makes for some really fun scenes as Flynn does his best to prove his manhood.
Now throw in S. Z. Sakall, and you’ve got a cast that more than makes up for a clichéd script that, on occasion, borders on corny.
Definitely worth a watch, Never Say Goodbye might be a good primer film if you’ve got a significant other who likes romantic comedies and needs to ease into classic film with something gentler than Citizen Kane.
The Bogart Factor
My absolute favorite Bogart cameo so far, when Flynn is attempting to scare off the robust Corporal ‘Wickie,’ he dons a gangster disguise and pulls out a tough guy accent. The catch? The accent isn’t really an accent – Bogart has overdubbed a good three or four minutes of Flynn’s dialogue with his own exaggerated gangster brogue!
Bogart was simply the best when it came to self-depreciating cameos, playing up the dumb tough guy angle to the hilt, and hearing his voice come out of Flynn’s disguised mug is a real treat. Several online sites don’t do justice to how long Bogart’s voice cameo runs, and I would say that its length alone makes this film a must see for any Bogart diehards.
Errol Flynn plays the philandering artist, Phil Gayley, a womanizer who’s trying his best to avoid temptation in order to win back his ex-wife. The role is so Cary Grant-ish that I’m amazed it wasn’t played by Cary Grant. And while Flynn is not Grant, he’s no slouch at playing the impish cad-about-town that’s still charming and likable despite the fact that he can’t keep himself on the monogamy wagon. If you’re a Flynn fan at all and you haven’t seen this one yet, it’s worth it. Tons of screen time, tons of charisma, a great relationship with his onscreen ex-wife and daughter, Flynn was a true movie star that knew how to command the big screen.
Eleanor Parker plays Ellen Gayley, Flynn’s ex-wife, and the mother of his precocious little daughter. Parker does very well here, and while it’s not all that deep of a role, she’s gorgeous, charming, funny, and holds her own against Flynn in every scene they share. Her semi-phony flirtations with Corporal ‘Wickie’ work so well that I wouldn’t have been upset if they’d ended up together at the end. They certainly set up Flynn to either succeed or fail in his re-wooing of Parker, and much of the credit for any romantic tension goes to Parker’s ability to keep us guessing as to who she really wants to fall in love with.
Patti Brady plays Flynn and Parker’s young daughter, Phillippa ‘Flip’ Gayley, and while I haven’t mentioned her yet in this post, it’s not because of anything that she’s lacking as a performer. Brady is one of the better child actresses I’ve seen, and her tête-à-têtes with Flynn over ice cream and Christmas presents are some of the more touching moments of the film. It was interesting to see how times have changed while watching Brady wander away from home to meander around Central Park alone without any adult supervision. Then, Flynn shoes her away to go home alone, an elementary aged girl on the streets of New York, without a fear in the world!
Forrest Tucker is one of the real highlights of this film as Cpl. Fenwick ‘Wickie’ Lonkowski. A good natured lunkhead with a heart of gold, Tucker makes the usually virile Flynn look like an out of shape bum. I’m glad they went with someone who had such great comedy chops to stand against Flynn rather than just trying to match his charisma with another hunky actor.
S. Z. Sakall plays restaurant owner, and Flynn’s good friend, Luigi. Sakall has quickly become one of my favorite character actors, doing a wonderful job with his ‘flustered foreigner’ roles, and his interrogation scene with the police is one of the funniest scenes from the film. It’s always great to see him pop up in slightly larger roles like this one.
And then there’s Hattie McDaniel as Brady’s nanny, Cozy. It’s another typical servant role for McDaniel, but doggone it if I don’t want to hug that woman every time I see her.
Classic Bogie Moment
“Hello, squirt. Where’s ya mudder?”
The Bottom Line
Worth a watch for the cast alone.