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  Cuban Rebel Girls Followers Of Fidel
Year: 1959
Director: Barry Mahon
Stars: Errol Flynn, Beverly Aadland, John McKay, Jackie Jackler, Marie Edmund, Ben Ostrowsky, Reynerio Sanchez, Andrés Fernández, Esther Oliva, Tod Scott Brody, Allen Baron, Clelle Mahon, Ramon Ramierez
Genre: Documentary, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Movie star Errol Flynn's attention was caught by the revolution in Cuba, led by Fidel Castro against the Batista regime, and the Hearst press hired him to investigate, knowing he was familiar with the country after spending a lot of time there before the revolt. He arrived hoping to get some kind of interview with one of the leaders of the rebels, but that proved to be easier said than done, and before long Flynn was roughing it in the countryside, observing the sugar cane fields set alight as an attack on the authorities. Meanwhile, a teenage girl from the States wished to join her boyfriend in the unstable area...

In Errol Flynn's autobiography written shortly before his relatively premature death, My Wicked, Wicked Ways (a terrific read, incidentally), the famed star went to great lengths to prove that the statutory rape charges against him were entirely invented by moralists who objected to his lifestyle, and that he never knowingly had sex with teenage girls. He also tells of the time back in Australia when he had to make a living biting the testicles off sheep on a farm, but that's neither here nor there. The point was, when he took his last girlfriend, all those claims to be of a higher moral character than his critics gave him credit for looked to be on shaky ground.

That was because Flynn's last partner was the teenage aspiring actress Beverly Aadland, who was fifteen when they started their relationship, and seventeen when he passed on. Though not before he did his bit to offer her lasting fame as the leading lady in his then-pet project, Cuban Rebel Girls. Needless to say, the film is so shoddy that it has become remembered more for its dramatic comedown in quality for Flynn's final movie, and Aadland never made anther film, moving into the nightclub scene for a while before trying to settle down and get marrried. It was directed by mildly notorious exploitation king Barry Mahon, his first effort before the lure of fleecing unsuspecting moviegoers with sex and violence (and children's entertainment) later on.

What Flynn wanted to be known for was not his acting, which he was modest about, but his writing, and he spent his last years trying to make something of his journalistic ambitions; the autobiography was the most successful of these attempts, but that was because the subject was himself and the title promised much in the way of saucy titbits that the public were only too happy to lap up. But here, with the film based on the script he wrote, he failed to make the same favourable impression, not least because Fidel was quickly revealed as a Communist, and you can imagine how that went down in the America of the late fifties once that came out.

What attracted Flynn was that he was often the champion of the underdog in his movies - it's what had made him popular. However, oddly enough in Cuban Rebel Girls he didn't appear to take much interest in the actual politics of the story, preferring to either concentrate on events, or make up a plot around newsreel footage where his girlfriend could flourish and display her thespian talents. That was the idea, anyway, but with Aadland's flat line readings not much better than the amateurs she was surrounded by, Flynn excepted, her character's quest to track down her lost love proved a lot less compelling than intended. Much of this is taken up with your basic battle skirmishes on a budget, and Flynn barely appears, though he provided a near-constant voiceover. The last scene he appears in, the last he ever filmed, where he wishes that all dictators will be overthrown, is oddly poignant, but not really worth sitting through an hour of amateurish headline grabbing.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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