Too Much, Too Soon

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For the album by the New York Dolls, see Too Much Too Soon (album).
Too Much, Too Soon
Too Much, Too Soon - Poster.jpg
1958 Theatrical Poster
Directed by Art Napoleon
Produced by Henry Blanke
Written by Diana Barrymore (book)
Gerold Frank (book)
Art Napoleon
Jo Napoleon
Starring Dorothy Malone
Errol Flynn
Music by Ernest Gold
Cinematography Carl E. Guthrie
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release dates
  • 1958 (1958)
Running time 121 min.
Country United States
Language English

Too Much, Too Soon is a 1958 biographical film made by Warner Bros.. It was directed by Art Napoleon and produced by Henry Blanke from a screenplay by Art Napoleon and Jo Napoleon, based on the autobiography by Diana Barrymore and Gerold Frank. The music score was by Ernest Gold and the cinematography by Carl E. Guthrie. Diana died in 1960, two years after the release of this film.

It stars Dorothy Malone and Errol Flynn (as John Barrymore), with Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Ray Danton, Neva Patterson, Murray Hamilton and Martin Milner.


Fourteen-year-old Diana Barrymore is being raised by her domineering mother, a poet. Her father, the famed actor John Barrymore, has not laid eyes on Diana for 10 years, but they share an evening on his boat before John abandons her again.

At 18, Diana has become an actress and has a steady boyfriend, Lincoln Forrester. When a Hollywood contract comes her way, Diana's mother warns her not to live with John, now a washed-up alcoholic.

She finds her father living in a nearly empty mansion, having sold or pawned his belongings to pay his bills. He keeps a bald eagle in a cage indoors and has a servant, Gerhardt, who must physically knock out John to put him to bed.

Diana's famous name gains her some publicity, but her performances are panned. Her new husband, actor Vince Bryant, is away a lot, so Diana turns to drink and leaves Vince for tennis player John Howard. When her father dies alone, a penniless and often drunk Diana and her husband move in with her mother, who can only stand so much before making them leave.

After marrying again, this time to recovering alcoholic Bob Wilcox, she discovers after her mother's death that she has been left no inheritance. Diana takes demeaning jobs, including a striptease. She becomes violent and is hospitalized. Her only hope at salvation is an offer to write her memoirs, and old friend Linc returns to her life, offering some badly needed kindness.


Original Book[edit]

Too Much Too Soon
Author Diana Barrymore
Gerold Frank
Language English
Genre autobiography
Publication date

The movie was based on the best selling 1957 autobiography, by Barrymore and Gerold Frank.[1]


Errol Flynn was a friend of John Barrymore's and the film was the first he had made for Warner Bros in a number of years.

At one stage Carroll Baker was announced to play Diana Barrymore[2] but she turned it down. Anne Baxter was also considered.[3]

Flynn flew back into Hollywood to make the movie and was arrested only a few days later for public drunkenness.[4]

A number of characters were fictionalised due to legal reasons.[5]


  1. ^ Mike Wallace interview with Diana Barrymore 14 July 1957 accessed 27 February 2013
  2. ^ "The Gabor Girls Love Each Other", The Washington Post and Times Herald (1954-1959) [Washington, D.C] 04 Feb 1957: B6.
  3. ^ "Doris Duke Blows Into Town", Dorothy Kilgallen:. The Washington Post and Times Herald (1954-1959) [Washington, D.C] 20 Apr 1957: D9.
  4. ^ Flynn, Jailed as a Drunk, Shouts 'Foul': ERROL FLYNN CRIES 'FOUL' AT DRUNK CHARGE Missing Police Badge, Kiss His Downfail, Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963) [Chicago, Ill] 21 Oct 1957: 1.
  5. ^ Tony Thomas, Rudy Behlmer & Clifford McCarty, The Films of Errol Flynn, Citadel Press, 1969 p 216

External links[edit]