Never Say Goodbye – 1946

Never Say Goodbye Poster

My Review

—A Fun Flynn RomCom— 

Bogie Film Fix:

1 Bogie out of 5 Bogies!

Director:  James V. Kern

The Lowdown

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!

Never Say Goodbye Bogart

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.

The Cast

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.

Virginia City – 1940

Virginia City Poster

My Review

—Lots of Fun, If a Bit Overindulgent—

Your Bogie Film Fix:

Full Bogie out of 5 Bogies!

Director: Michael Curtiz

The Lowdown

Union officer Kerry Bradford (Errol Flynn) escapes from a confederate prison with two friends (Alan Hale and Guinn Williams) only to later bump into his old Confederate captor, Vance Irby (Randolph Scott), in Virginia City. Irby’s trying to obtain millions of dollars in gold bars for the Confederates, and Bradford’s mission is to stop him. All the while, a young saloon dancer (Miriam Hopkins) comes between them.

What I Thought

Virginia City is a fun old school western with great performances by all the actors (save one . . .), and plenty of tension to keep you hooked until the end.

With a running time of slightly over two hours, Director Michael Curtiz probably could have shaved off about twenty minutes with a few less horse chases and saloon scenes, but that’s a small complaint to have in an otherwise good film.

I thought Curtiz did a great job of making both sides of the conflict over the gold seem sympathetic. Heck, I was even rooting at points for Bogart’s poorly cast (I’ll get to it later…) Hispanic outlaw, John Murrell. Errol Flynn looks to be at his physical best, and while I don’t think that he had as much chemistry with Miriam Hopkins as Randolph Scott did, the love triangle they set up is works well enough to keep you guessing until the end.

It’s a fan friendly film, so even the Confederates don’t really lose out in the end. Having an outside antagonist in Bogart helped make Flynn and Scott’s relationship of mutual respect grounded and believable as they eventually they got team up to do the right thing with the gold.

Very watchable, although not a must see for Bogart fans, Virginia City is a great taste of Errol Flynn’s charismatic power.

The Bogart Factor

Let’s cut to the chase . . . why in the world did they go with the Mexican accent?!? His name is John Murrell – couldn’t they have made him an ex-pat? Especially since they were going to stand him next to REAL MEXICANS for the entire film.

It’s not a big part, and at times you’ll find yourself laughing for the wrong reasons. Bogart would have made a much stronger showing if they’d let him play the role a little closer to the bad guy he portrayed in The Oklahoma Kid.

Not to say that there’s nothing of value here. Bogart’s first scene where he attempts to rob the stagecoach with Frank McHugh, Errol Flynn, and Miriam Hopkins aboard is a fun way to introduce his character. He also has a decent scene (if you can ignore the accent) with Randolph Scott as they strike a mutually beneficial deal while Bogart gets a bullet wound treated.

It’s just the wrong, wrong, wrong movie for Bogart to be in. The part’s small. The accent was a terrible choice. And putting him next to Flynn and Scott accentuated his slight stature in a way that shocked me despite having seen almost all of his films by now! Not his greatest showcase.

Virginia City was shot concurrently with It All Came True, and that might explain a little bit about why Bogart’s part is so small. . .

The Cast

Errol Flynn plays Union soldier Kerry Bradford. Flynn was born and bred to be an action hero, and he commands every frame of any scene that he’s in. Is it his best role? Probably not, but he portrays a much more three-dimensional cowboy than most Westerns of this era were able to pull off. He could ride, he could shoot, and he could get the women! Is there anything that Flynn couldn’t do?

Randolph Scott plays Flynn’s Confederate nemesis, Vance Irby. Scott and Flynn worked really well together in this film as every conversation between them seemed charged with tension. I liked Scott a lot here, and as I’m unfamiliar with most of his filmography, I’ll need to check him out a bit further.

Miriam Hopkins plays the Confederate spy Julia Hayne. Falling in love with both Scott and Flynn, I thought Hopkins did a great job in the role despite getting a bit razzed by critics at the time. She does a wonderful job of portraying a woman who’s torn between fulfilling her duty and following her passion.

Alan Hale and Guinn ‘Big Boy’ Williams play Flynn’s sidekicks, Moose and Marblehead respectively. I loved these two guys in this film, and they create so much of the comic relief that it’d be an entirely different movie without them. It’s a true showcase of how to use supporting actors to elevate the quality of a film.

Frank McHugh, a Bogie Film Blog favorite, shows up as Mr. Upjohn, a very nervous man who gets robbed on the stagecoach with Flynn and Hopkins. Any moment that you can get with McHugh on screen always delivers, and this is no exception!

Classic Bogie Moment

Well, with another small part playing a two-dimensional bad guy, at least that means we get a good death scene, right?

Virg City Bogart Death

The Bottom Line

This one is at the bottom of the Bogart bucket, but it’s a must see for Classic Western and Errol Flynn fans!