The Sad But True “Last of Robin Hood”
By Skip Sheffield
Dashing actor Errol Flynn buckled his last swash suddenly on Oct. 14, 1959. He was just 50-years-old, but he had lived life to its limits.
Errol Flynn is played by Kevin Kline, and his last love, Beverly Aadland, is played by Dakota Fanning in the biopic “The Last of Robin Hood.”
It was Beverly who discovered the lifeless body of Flynn after he suffered a heart attack at a doctor’s house in Vancouver, British Columbia. Flynn was in Vancouver to sell his beloved yacht Zaca, so he could make Beverly, 17, his fourth and last wife and start a new life in Jamaica. It was not meant to be.
Writer-directors Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland worked for ten years with the real-life Beverly Aadland, who wanted to set the record straight. Born in 1942, the same year Australian-born Flynn became an American citizen, Beverly Aadland died in 2010. The film is dedicated to her.
Beverly was predeceased by her mother Florence, played by Susan Sarandon. If ever there was a nightmare stage mother, Florence Aadland took the prize. Florence’s aspiration to a dancing career was cut short by a car accident in her youth and the amputation of one of her legs. Florence clearly saw her pretty daughter as her last shot to some kind of fame.
Beverly was already working as a dancer at the Warner Brothers lot when Errol Flynn first spotted her in 1957. She was only 15, but she had a fake birth certificate (which her mother knew about) which said she was 18.
Errol Flynn was already an alcoholic, drug-added, washed-up has-been when he met Beverly. Kevin Kline’s poignant performance indicates Flynn saw Beverly has his last shot at rejuvenating romance. Beverly’s mother did not disapprove of what in fact was statutory rape of her daughter; If anything, she encouraged it.
In the end “The Last of Robin Hood” is a sad, cautionary tale all around. As much a rotter and libertine as Errol Flynn was, Kline brings out his magnetic, if pathetic charm.
As much a monster as Florence Aadland was, Susan Sarandon inspires more pity than hated for a bitter, defeated woman who died of acute alcoholism in 1965.
As for Dakota Fanning’s tricky role as the Lolita-like Beverly, at age 20 Fanning ably proves she is ready to move on to adult, womanly roles.