Inherited risk : Errol and Sean Flynn in Hollywood and Vietnam /

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Main Author: Meyers, Jeffrey
Format: Book
Published: New York : Simon & Schuster, c2002.
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Review by Booklist Review

Errol and Sean Flynn barely had a relationship but knew one another well enough to have serious issues. Raised by mother Lili Damita, Sean was born into an uncomfortable situation, given that Lili «tricked [Errol] into getting her pregnant after they'd been estranged.» Meyers quotes Lili declaring, «Fleen, you think that you've screwed every dame in Hollywood, but now I've screwed you»--by saddling him with a child whose well-being he was legally obliged to bolster financially. Accepted levels of hyperbole and vitriol aside, Lili's estimation of Errol seems dead on but indicates a strange background on which to pin hopes of family bonding. Meyers considers Flynn fils' often-tortured response to this predicament while he rehashes pere's familiar yet still pleasingly sordid story. Although any decoction on Errol needs no spicing, Sean's ultimate death as a photojournalist in Vietnam gives the intergenerational star bio agreeable Apocalypse Now-ish tang in the finish. This is subject matter far too rich to disappoint, and Meyers' competent preparation of it ensures a toothsome celebrity dish. Mike Tribby.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

The sins of the father resurface in the struggles of the son in Meyers's rollicking double biography of the charismatic movie star Errol Flynn and his equally handsome son, Sean. The life of the elder Flynn is, of course, well known. A native Australian, Errol worked as a gold prospector, pearl diver and correspondent for the Sydney Bulletin before being "discovered" by a Warner Bros. agent. He took America by storm with such classics as Captain Blood and The Sea Hawk. A "Byronic figure," he seduced hundreds of women, brawled with bums and stars alike and consumed astonishing amounts of drugs and alcohol. Inevitably, Sean's much briefer biography suffers by comparison. Only in intermittent contact with his father, Sean grew up to be a B-movie star in Europe in the early 1960s (including a stint as the "Son of Captain Blood") before becoming a freelance photographer in Europe and Vietnam. Both men came to sad, gruesome ends: Errol wasted away from substance abuse; Sean was captured at a Vietcong checkpoint and later executed. As a biographer of Humphrey Bogart, F. Scott Fitzgerald and others, Meyers is well-equipped to chronicle the fabulous self-destructiveness of the devil-may-care Errol and his dashing son. Despite an obvious affection for his subjects, he doesn't shrink from exposing their less attractive features, including Errol's statutory rape trial (a scandal that brought "in like Flynn" into the popular lexicon). Despite the odd structure Errol's hefty life is sandwiched between thin sections about Sean Meyers offers an entertaining, disheartening look at two fascinating men who flew too close to the sun. Agent, Clyde Taylor. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

A noted biographer tackles the wild-card actor and his risk-taking son, a war photographer who disappeared in Vietnam in the 1970s. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

From veteran biographer Meyers (Orwell, 2000, etc.), an account of swashbuckling film legend Errol Flynn and his ill-fated son Sean. Gifted with good looks, charm, and a winning smile, Errol (1909-59) was a Hollywood Bad Boy: seducer of underage girls, accused statutory rapist, neglectful husband and father, brawler, drunk, and drug addict. His onscreen feats of chivalry and derring-do in films like Captain Blood and The Adventures of Robin Hood were matched in real life by dissolution, self-centeredness, and sexual cruelty. Yet Errol was also a real-life adventurer and eccentric who had once sailed around the world, wrote novels and screenplays, read the classics, kept a pet monkey, and inserted himself into both the Spanish Civil War and Castro's Cuban revolution. Meyers clearly appreciates the audacity that made Errol the rogue of Hollywood's golden age and is drawn to the elder Flynn's intellectual and political endeavors, but he's impatient with his subject's excesses as the story inevitably hastens on to the next round of debauchery and to the film legend's untimely death, at age 50, from drink, drugs, and exhaustion. The other side of this dual biography concerns Sean (1941-71), the son Errol barely knew by his first wife, French actress Lili Damita. As irrepressible as his famous dad, Sean was a B-movie actor, a '60s dropout, a Parisian hipster, a photographer, and finally a war correspondent. Driven, says Meyers, by a need to surpass his father's legend, Sean in 1970 concocted a plan to get himself captured by the Vietcong for a sensational "inside" story; it went terribly awry, and he was probably killed by the Khmer Rouge after being imprisoned for 14 months. The notion that his father's swashbuckling fame led the son astray is a tad overworked here, although the account of Errol's life and accompanying portrayal of mid-century Hollywood do make for some very evocative pages.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

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