If all the world’s stage, then surely some players crave the spotlight more than others. And if ever there was a player, it was Errol Flynn. The Last of Robin Hood tells the twisted story of three people who will do almost anything for fame. That each must settle for infamy is one of the juicy, yet unexplored ironies in a movie that doesn’t know which story it wants to tell. By taking an evenhanded and humanistic approach to such salacious subject matter, the filmmakers have effectively squashed any possibility for tawdry fun. Instead, we get a bone-dry historical drama that skimps on the history and bypasses the drama entirely.
The Last of Robin Hood depicts the last romance of Errol Flynn’s life from the not-so-tender age of 48 until his death. Who was the lucky girl? Beverly Aadland. One person’s definition of luck is most people’s definition of statutory rape—something that Flynn had some trouble with before—as Miss Aadland was under 18 at the time. This is the crux of the conundrum behind this story and what would regularly confound a filmmaker in bringing it to the screen—even Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita screenplay was rejected and reworked by Stanley Kubrick. Fortunately for the audience, Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland are no regular filmmakers (see Grief, The Fluffer, Quinceanera). They have written and directed a film about three protagonists (Beverly Aadland, her mother Florence, and Errol Flynn) with a vague outward antagonist—society, perhaps? And somehow, through the grace of such strong characters and writing, it works.