Adventures of Don Juan
|Adventures of Don Juan|
|Directed by||Vincent Sherman|
|Produced by||Jerry Wald|
|Written by||Herbert Dalmas|
|Music by||Max Steiner|
|Edited by||Alan Crosland, Jr.|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|December 24, 1948 (New York)|
|Budget||$3,408,000 or $3 million|
Adventures of Don Juan (released in the UK as The New Adventures of Don Juan) is a 1948 American Technicolor swashbuckling adventure romance film from Warner Bros., produced by Jerry Wald, directed by Vincent Sherman, that stars Errol Flynn and Viveca Lindfors, with Robert Douglas, Alan Hale, Ann Rutherford, and Robert Warwick. Also in the cast are Barbara Bates, Raymond Burr, and Mary Stuart. The screenplay by George Oppenheimer and Harry Kurnitz, based on a story by Herbert Dalmas, has uncredited contributions by William Faulkner and Robert Florey.
The film was originally to be scored by Erich Wolfgang Korngold. However, production of the film was postponed until 1947, by which time Korngold had retired from scoring motion pictures. He was replaced by Max Steiner.
Late in the reign of Elizabeth I of England, Spanish noble Don Juan de Maraña (Errol Flynn) is repatriated from London to Madrid, following a diplomatic scandal caused by his dalliance with the British fiancée of a Spanish nobleman. The Spanish ambassador in London, Count de Polan (Robert Warwick), an old family friend, sends a letter of recommendation to Queen Margaret (Viveca Lindfors) of Spain.
He requests that she provide an opportunity at the Spanish court for the rehabilitation of Don Juan's reputation from the swirling gossip and scandal that have followed him around Europe in the wake of his many illicit love affairs. Accepting her old friend's suggestion, Queen Margaret thus appoints Don Juan as a fencing instructor to the Royal Spanish Academy, where he is a great success. During his time at court, he secretly falls in love with the Queen but remains a staunchly loyal subject to her and her irresponsible and weak husband, King Phillip III (Romney Brent).
Don Juan discovers a treacherous plan by the Machiavellian Duke de Lorca (Robert Douglas), who is holding the loyal Count de Polan as a secret prisoner. The Duke is plotting to depose the monarchs, usurp their power over Spain, and declare war on England. With the support of his friends at court, Don Juan heroically defends the Queen and the King against de Lorca and his henchmen, finally defeating his plan in a duel to death, saving Spain.
The queen professes her love for Don Juan, now seeing his many virtues. Despite loving her deeply, more than any other woman in his life, he says that they could never be happy or survive such scandal. Both her subjects and Spain would fare poorly under the sole rule of the king. They both have a higher duty that must be served. Since the queen is the one woman he truly loves and can never rightfully have, he asks that she allow him to leave court and to continue his life elsewhere. She painfully grants him his wish, and he leaves the palace forever to continue his journeys in Spain.
- Errol Flynn as Don Juan de Maraña
- Viveca Lindfors as Margaret of Austria Queen of Spain
- Robert Douglas as Duke de Lorca
- Alan Hale as Leporello
- Romney Brent as King Phillip III of Spain
- Ann Rutherford as Dona Elena
- Robert Warwick as Don Jose, Count de Polan
- Jerry Austin as Don Sebastian
- Douglas Kennedy as Don Rodrigo
- Jean Shepherd (Jeanne Shepherd) as Donna Carlotta Shepherd
- Mary Stuart as Catherine
- Helen Westcott as Lady Diana
- Fortunio Bonanova as Don Serafino Lopez
- Aubrey Mather as Lord Chalmers
- Una O'Connor as Duenna
- Raymond Burr as Captain Alvarez
- Nora Eddington as young woman asking for direction
- Tim Huntley as Cecil (Catherine's husband)
- Leon Belasco as Don de Cordoba
- David Leonard as Innkeeper
- Barbara Bates as Micaela (Innkeeper's daughter)
- Monte Blue as Turnkey
- David Bruce as Count de Orsini
Proposed 1939 film
Errol Flynn was linked with a Don Juan project as early as the 1930s. In Mach 1939 Warner Bros announced The Adventures of Don Juan with Flynn was one of the 48 films they announced to make over 1939-40. W.R. Burnett was assigned to write the picture after a John Dillinger movie he was working on was postponed. Warrners said Olivia de Havilland, Priscilla Lane, Margaret Lindsay, Ann Sheridan and Lya Lys would appear in the film, along with five other female actors. Filming was to proceed once Flynn had finished on The Knight and the Lady (which became The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex.) Franciska Gaal was screen tested for a role.
Filming wound up being postponed and Flynn went into The Sea Hawk (1940) Instead. The advent of World War Two saw a decline in the production of elaborate costume pictures, and Flynn was more commonly found in war films and Westerns.
Proposed 1945 Film
In January 1945 Herbert Dalmas and Harry Goldman were reportedly working on the script. (The time period of this film would change from Italy of the Borgias in the 1926 Barrymore version to 1620 Spain under Philip III.)
The cast would eventually include Victor Francen (as the King), Dorothy Malone, Helen Pender, Rosemary De Camp (as the Queen of Spain), Morris Carnovsky (Don Jose the Spanish ambassador), Florence Bates (Signore Fernandez), Pat Clark (Lady Diana) and George Coulouris (main villain).
The film was to have started filming in early May 1945 with a budget of $2 million. The studio set for Mexico city used in Juarez (1939) was turned into Madrid. Flynn did fencing training with Fred Cravens and Colouris did extensive dieting for the role. According to studio publicity, 54 ladies were auditioned to play Juan's eight love interests and the film would use 124 different sets and over 3,7000 costumes.
Filming was postponed due to difficulty in sourcing costumes (there was a general post war shortage) and an industry strike which affected the ability to paint and construct sets. On 9 May the decision was made to postpone the film indefinitely and the actors were assigned to other films. Flynn was put into Don't Ever Leave Me (which became Never Say Goodbye.)
In January 1946 Warners put the film back on the schedule. Martha Vickers, Dorothy Malone, Peggy Knudsen, Joan Lorring and Joan Chandler were announced for support parts. However filming continued to be delayed.
Negulesco later recalled the film was "the most expensive and sought-after project on the Warner lot. I had unorthodox ideas about Don Juan: I thought he should have been a victim of women rather than their victimizer. Flynn didn't agree with me at all because he still wanted to be the wonderful guy who jumps out the windo pursued by the irate husband saying 'You made love to my wife' and all that."
After three months Flynn told Jack Warner he would not make the film with Negulesco. Warner told the director "Johnny I cannot make Don Juan without Errol Flynn but I can make it without you." Negulesco agreed and Warner assigned him to producer Jerry Wald for Johnny Belinda.
By September 1947 Vincent Sherman was to direct from a script by George Oppenheimer and Harry Kurnitz. Romney Brent who played the Dauphin in Joan of Lorraine was signed to play Philip III. In October Viveca Lindfors was given the female lead.
Shooting eventually began in October 1947.
Errol Flynn was suffering from poor health, allegedly from a mild heart condition and recurrent bouts of hepatitis. According to film historian Tony Thomas, Flynn drank heavily during the production's shooting. Filming was frequently halted due to Flynn's physical condition and by frequent changes and replacements in production personnel. In January Flynn was hospitalised and was ill for fifteen days, causing production to halt. Flynn returned, but fell ill again and the production shut down once more. On 6 February the production shut down a third time, for a fortnight, because of Flynn's illness. In March it was estimated that Flynn had missed 64 days of shooting.
The rising costs concerned Warner Bros about the profitability of the film, particularly as Britain, which was expected to be a major market, recently introduced a heavy tax on Hollywood films.
In the famous on-screen leap from the head of a long staircase, Flynn was doubled by stunt expert Jock Mahoney. In the silent film Don Juan (1926), Flynn's idol John Barrymore performed a similar leap without a stunt double.
At the end of the picture, the young woman in the coach asking Don Juan for directions is Flynn's wife, Nora Eddington.
During filming, in November, Flynn signed a new contract with Warner Bros to make one film a year until 1961, of which Don Juan was to be the first.
The chase scene early in the film used recycled footage from The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), and is then followed by a grand procession with recycled outtakes from The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939), both starring Errol Flynn and Alan Hale.
The film is the last of 13 in which Hale and his close friend Errol Flynn appeared together. Hale died on January 22, 1950, just over a year after this film's theatrical release.
Parts of the film's score were adapted years later by composer Ian Fraser for the George Hamilton swashbuckling comedy film Zorro, The Gay Blade (1981). A portion was also used in two scenes in the film The Goonies (1985), although in the first scene, it accompanied a TV broadcast of the earlier film Captain Blood (1935).
Bosley Crowther of The New York Times wrote: "Warner Brothers have generously contributed a production of rare magnificence. The sets and costumes are exquisite—there is no other word ... If for no other reason than to take a look at the splash, we suggest you see this picture. It is something to remember old Hollywood by." Variety wrote that out of several recent swashbuckling films, "'Adventures of Don Juan' measures up among the best of them ... The loves and escapades of the fabulous Don Juan are particularly adapted to the screen abilities of Errol Flynn and he gives them a flare that pays off strongly." Harrison's Reports called the film "trite both in story and treatment," but "should go over pretty well with those who enjoy colorful pageantry with plenty of glittering swordplay and exciting chases." John McCarten of The New Yorker called it "a picture that demonstrates once again that Errol Flynn is muscular as all get out but quite innocent of any ability in the acting line."
The film was very successful in Europe, earning $2,607,000. It recorded admissions of 3,763,314 in France, making it the 7th most popular film in the country that year.
However, in the US it made only $1.9 million in 1949 and $2,165,000 overall,meaning it struggled to recoup its large budget. From this point on, Warner Bros reduced the budgets of Flynn's films.
Awards and honors
The film won the Academy Award for Best Costume Design, Color (Leah Rhodes, Travilla and Marjorie Best) and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Art Direction-Set Direction, Color (Edward Carrere, Lyle Reifsnider).
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- Madness Over Family Films Spreads Apace Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 20 Apr 1939: A15.
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- NEWS OF THE SCREEN: Bogart and Stanwyck Will Star in 'Fountainhead'-- 'Moscow Skies' Due at the Stanley Today New York Times 20 Jan 1945: 16.
- SCREEN NEWS: RKO to Feature Carney and Brown in Comedy New York Times 2 Mar 1945: 15.
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- Raines, Cameron Duo; Star of Piano Signed Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 20 Feb 1946: A3.
- DRAMA AND FILM: Cummings Will Portray Star in 'Big Curtain' Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-1995); Los Angeles, Calif. [Los Angeles, Calif]28 Feb 1947: A3.
- HEPBUM TO STAR IN FILM AT METRO: Will Have Lead in "The House Above the River," Based on Michael Foster's Novel By THOMAS F. BRADYSpecial to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times (1923-Current file); New York, N.Y. [New York, N.Y]04 Apr 1947: 19.
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- ROLE AT WARNERS FOR ROMNEY BRENT: Broadway Star to Play Part of Philip III in 'Don Juan' -- Errol Flynn Has Lead New York Times 18 Sep 1947: 29.
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- METRO ACQUIRES J.D. BROWN NOVEL: To Film 'Stars in My Crown,' Post-Civil War Period Story -- Henreid Project Set By THOMAS F. BRADYS New York Times 31 Jan 1948: 14.
- BETTE DAVIS STAR OF 'ETHAN FROME': Warners to Film Wharton's Novel on New England -Windust Will Direct New York Times 7 Feb 1948: 10.
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