I was always going to run into some trouble choosing a late 1930s Warner Bros. film to include in this limited series. In our last entry I chose Jezebel, Hollywood’s second most famous portrayal of a spoiled Southern belle, ahead of the Academy Award winning picture The Life of Emile Zola (1937) simply because of my interest in actress Bette Davis. It was a shrewd choice one that I don’t regret. However I just might lament about my decision to include Dodge City (1939) over The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) in this latest instalment. Why? Because, although I am keen to have an Errol Flynn entry in this series, the handsome charismatic Australian-born actor, is in truth best remembered as that swashbuckling hero Robin Hood moreover than the incorruptible Dodge City sheriff Wade Hatton.
Even Flynn in his heyday was surprised that he was seriously considered for the role of a Western hero. But such was Flynn’s fame following the success of Captain Blood (1935) and The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) that Warner Bros. and moviegoers alike were prepared to overlook his Australian/English accent. The idea that they wrote into the script that his accent was due to his character’s Irish ancestry is still comical to me. Yet despite my bemused reservation at Errol Flynn’s accent, he shows enough care and conscientiousness in his role as sheriff Wade Hatton that audiences were still willing to root for him in his pursuit of justice set against the vile lawlessness of Dodge City.
The interesting thing about Dodge City is that it has just about everything that you want in a Western – stampedes, gunfights, salon brawls, humour and even romance. Arguably along with John Ford’s Stagecoach (1939) it began a resurgence in ‘quality’ Western films. And although Stagecoach outshines Dodge City as the far superior Western, it certainly made up for it at the box office where it counts. Importantly, the lavish production (shot in Technicolor) and its star-studded supporting cast with Olivia de Havilland, the ever reliable Alan Dale and the villainous Bruce Cabot make Dodge City a worthy film experience.
Photo Credit: The header movie still image from the film Dodge City is courtesy of Warner Bros. I make use of the images under the rational of fair use. It enables me to makes an important contribution to the reader’s understanding of the article, which could not practically be communicated by words alone by placing one of key characters of the film, played by actor Errol Flynn into the frame. I am not the uploader of the You Tube clip.