Don Juan de Marana damages Spanish prestige in diplomatic circles with his indiscreet womanizing, but he attempts to rehabilitate his image after he meets the beautiful Queen Margaret, trapped in a loveless arranged marriage with the weak and feckless King Philip III.
The Queen becomes the love of Don Juan's life, and although she is obviously attracted to him, the relationship remains appropriately platonic. Becoming caught up in court intrigue, Don Juan uncovers a plot by the King's minister, the ruthless Duke de Lorca, to become the power behind the throne.
After de Lorca is exposed by Don Juan, he brazenly intimidates the cowardly king into compliance and threatens to execute the uncooperative queen. Helped by his friends, his servant Leporello, fencing master Don Serafino, and court jester Sebastian, Don Juan tries to foil the Duke's evil machinations.
Errol Flynn ... Don Juan
Viveca Lindfors ... Queen Margaret
Robert Douglas ... Duke de Lorca
Alan Hale ... Leporello
Romney Brent ... King Phillip III
Ann Rutherford ... Donna Elena
Robert Warwick ... Count de Polan
Jerry Austin ... Don Sebastian
Douglas Kennedy ... Don Rodrigo
DivX5 / AC3
THE ADVENTURES OF DON JUAN was intended as something of a 'comeback' film for Warner Bros. resident 'bad boy', combining the heroic elements of 'ROBIN HOOD' and 'THE SEA HAWK' with Errol Flynn's well-established (by 1948) reputation as a hell-raising womanizer. Unfortunately, the color production, Flynn's first swashbuckler in nearly a decade, was not a box office hit, but the comic adventure is today embraced by his many fans as one of his best roles!
It was not an easy film to make, as Flynn's carousing and disappearances (officially called 'sicknesses') stretched the filming, and forced frequent reshooting. Director Vincent Sherman, cinematographer Elwood Bredell, and editor Alan Crosland often had to 'cut-and-paste' snippets of many takes to achieve a decent performance from the star, and careful lighting had to be used to play down the increasingly obvious effects of the star's hedonistic lifestyle. (The closing scene, featuring then wife Nora Eddington, was shot nearly a year before the remainder of the film, and the change in the Flynn's physical appearance is clearly evident.) At 38, the star, who always hated being called a 'pretty boy' (to the extent that his home had few mirrors) was aging rapidly.
All this being said, Flynn tried to give the film the best he could. It had been a landmark film for his friend/mentor John Barrymore, in the first Warners' film with sound, employed for music and special effects only, in 1926 (THE JAZZ SINGER would introduce 'talkies' a year later). It reunited him with friend and frequent costar Alan Hale, who, at 56, was still a popular character actor, and whose son, Alan Jr., was starting to make his mark around town (he would eventually be best known as the Skipper in 'Gilligan's Island'). The script for DON JUAN, in development since 1939, passed through many hands, including uncredited help by William Faulkner and Robert Florey, with the end result being marvelously tongue-in-cheek. The score, by the legendary Max Steiner, became an instant classic, and would be reused, years later, in George Hamilton's ZORRO, THE GAY BLADE. This was a film which, despite Errol Flynn's self-destructive lifestyle, had enough talent involved to still stand up as one of the better films of the 1940s.
The plot involves roué Don Juan, tossed out of England after breaking up a 'diplomatic' wedding (a VERY funny scene), returning home to Spain to find evil Duke de Lorca (the sublimely nasty Robert Douglas) controlling weak King Phillip, and taxing the population to near starvation, with only the beautiful Queen Margaret standing in his way. Flynn quickly dispatches a de Lorca press gang, earning the Count's hatred, and the Queen's attention...and Don Juan finds himself truly falling in love, for the first time, with the youthful monarch (played by the radiant Viveca Lindfors). Assigned as a fencing master at the Academy, the legendary lover draws the ire of the Queen by stating his feelings for her, then is manipulated into another disastrous diplomatic blunder, involving, of course, another woman. On the run, he discovers de Lorca's ultimate scheme (manipulating the Crown into war), and with the help of the students of the Academy, he must save the King and Queen.
Featuring a great early appearance by Raymond Burr (as a de Lorca henchman), and a stirring final duel between Flynn and Douglas (expanded from the 1926 version, and featuring an astonishing climactic stairway jump, performed by stuntman and future 'Tarzan' Jock Mahoney), THE ADVENTURES OF DON JUAN is a gloriously adventuresome romp. Sadly, it didn't save Flynn's flagging career, but it certainly has earned a place among his classic films!
* Claude Rains was originally cast as the Duke de Lorca.
* At the end of the film, the young woman in the coach asking Don Juan for directions is Errol Flynn's wife, Nora Eddington.
* The last of 13 films that Alan Hale appeared in with close friend Errol Flynn. Alan Hale died on 22 January 1950, just over a year following its release.
* The scene when Don Juan (Errol Flynn) is seen escaping on horseback over the castle drawbridge and into the forest through a triangular beam of light shining through the trees is footage taken from the The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938).
* Erich Wolfgang Korngold was assigned to score this film when shooting began in 1945 and even sketched some themes. When production was postponed until 1947 (due to Flynn's illness and other problems) Max Steiner replaced him because, by then, Korngold had announced his retirement from motion pictures. In October 1947 he suffered a heart attack and, in spite of pleas from Leo Forbstein, Music Chief at Warners, Korngold refused to return to the studio.
* Warners considered filming "Don Juan" with Flynn twice previously - in 1939 and 1945. The 1945 proposed production was scuttled by a labor dispute. It was to be directed by Raoul Walsh, scored by Erich Wolfganf Korngold and to co-star Victor Francen and Rosemary DeCamp as the King and Queen, and George Colouris as the Duke. Only Jerry Austin and Alan Hale survived from the 1945 production although S. Z. Sakall was also considered for the Leporello role.
* Flynn did not wear a wig and let his naturally curly hair grow for the role. The producers were worried about it becoming unruly during the climactic fight scenes, so it was decided that he wear a bandanna.
* The father of film editor Alan Crosland, Jr., was the director of John Barrymore's 1926 "Don Juan."
* A 1945 trade publication announced that Claudette Colbert was being considered for a role as a French aristocrat, a role that did not appear in the 1948 version.
* In "The Films of Errol Flynn," it was alleged that Flynn's drinking necessitated a good deal of "shooting around" him, but on the DVD commentary Director Vincent Sherman says that this only happened once.
* Although Raoul Walsh was originally slated to helm this project in 1945, Flynn had had a falling-out with him, and by 1947 Michael Curtiz, who had directed some of Flynn's greatest early films until Flynn refused to work with him too, was assigned to the project. As production neared, Jean Negelusco replaced him, but Negulesco bowed out in favor of the film's ultimate director, Vincent Sherman.
* Frederick Faust (Max Brand) and William Faulkner both worked on early versions of the script.
* With the failure of Flynn's non-action films, "Escape Me Never" and "Never Say Goodbye," Jerry Wald argued that the star should return to a large-scale swashbuckler especially after "Captain Blood," "The Sea Hawk," and "Robin Hood" enjoyed recent successful theatrical revivals. Unfortunately "Don Juan" did not meet with the anticipated popularity and the budgets of subsequent Flynn films were reduced considerably.