The Story of William Tell

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The Story of William Tell
The Story of William Tell - Still Frame.jpg
1953 frame of the unfinished film. Shows Flynn as "William Tell"; Waltraut Haas as "Mary"
Directed byJack Cardiff
Produced byErrol Flynn
Barry Mahon
Written byJohn Dighton
StarringErrol Flynn
Bruce Cabot
Music byMario Nascimbene
CinematographyJack Cardiff
Distributed byUnited Artists
United States

The Story of William Tell is an unfinished film about William Tell. It starred and was produced by Errol Flynn. It commenced filming in Italy in 1953 and was meant to be the directorial debut of Jack Cardiff. It was filmed in Cinemascope. A £10,000 model town set was built near Mont Blanc.[2]


Flynn decided to produce the film himself with Barry Mahon.[3] He put up approximately $430,000 of his own money towards the $860,000 budgeted production which started in June 1953.[4]

Had the film been completed on time it would have been the first independent movie filmed in CinemaScope.


  • Actress Vira Silenti was cast as "Mary" but later replaced by Waltraut Haas.
  • Production ceased in September when the project ran out of funds and creditors seized sets and camera equipment.[5] They also took possession of Errol Flynn's car and furniture.[6]
  • Flynn desperately sought financing to resume production, estimated at around £150,000, but failed.[7] In 1956, he claimed he had $340,000 of his own money in the film and still hoped to finish it in autumn of that year.[8] This did not happen.
  • The film's collapse ruined Flynn financially.[9] He estimated it cost him $400,000 in all.[10]

Impact of the film[edit]

  • A little more than a minute of footage was shown on Turner Classic Movies in the early 1990s as part of a feature on Flynn, but that short clip itself is now lost as well. Flynn's estate have chosen to remain silent about it.
  • The model ski resort was turned into a real ski resort that uses the film's production to lure tourists in every year, and is still active today.


  1. ^ "Comeback for the fabulous Errol Flynn". The Australian Women's Weekly. National Library of Australia. 24 December 1958. p. 56. Retrieved 7 July 2012.
  2. ^ "Creditors Are In Full Cry". The Sun-Herald. Sydney: National Library of Australia. 11 October 1953. p. 68. Retrieved 7 July 2012.
  3. ^ "Goldstein Will Star Jean Peters as Siren" Hopper, Hedda. Los Angeles Times 26 Dec 1952: B4.
  4. ^ Tony Thomas, Rudy Behlmer & Clifford McCarty, The Films of Errol Flynn, Citadel Press, 1969 p 197-198
  5. ^ "Flynn Has New Trouble". The Barrier Miner. Broken Hill, NSW: National Library of Australia. 29 September 1953. p. 3. Retrieved 7 July 2012.
  6. ^ "Bailiffs seize Errol's car". The Argus. Melbourne: National Library of Australia. 1 October 1953. p. 3. Retrieved 7 July 2012.
  7. ^ "Flynn needs money". The Argus. Melbourne: National Library of Australia. 13 November 1953. p. 5. Retrieved 7 July 2012.
  8. ^ "Errol Claims He's Now in Like Flynn With Creditors", Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times 4 Mar 1956: E2.
  9. ^ Phil Hall, "Outta Gas – Film Threat's Top 10 Unfinished Films of All Time", Film Threat, June 21, 2006 accessed July 5, 2012
  10. ^ "ERROL FLYNN: HE BLEW $8,000,000" Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Daily Tribune 21 July 1957: f26.

External links[edit]