Flynn Takes His Last Stand

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Directed by Raoul Walsh, They Died with Their Boots On showcased Errol Flynn in another action role as General Custer. His co-star Olivia de Havilland said, “He was a most charming man and a superb performer in adventure films for which he is celebrated. That he was capable of more complex work, I have no doubt.”

1. Flynn’s horse played a trick on him.

The stunt called for Flynn to run from a general’s headquarters down a long flight of stairs to his horse. He said, “I had carefully trained my favorite horse to stay at the bottom of these steps.” He did the trick perfectly up to the point where he jumped to get onto his horse… except his horse wasn’t there anymore.

2. It was a dangerous set.

Flynn made friends with stuntman Bill Meade who hoped to become an actor one day. Filming a charge scene with swords on horses took a turn for the worse when after several takes the animals became fatigued. During the next take a tragedy happened. Meade’s horse tripped and anticipating an accident with the sword, he threw it away. Flynn wrote in his memoir, “As the horse completed his stumble, Meade fell forward toward the ground – the one chance in a million of a thing like this happening. That sword was angled just right for murder.” Two others died during the production – one from a heart attack and one from falling off of a horse after becoming intoxicated.

3. Flynn asked for his leading lady.

They Died with Their Boots On once again teamed up Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland, who had first appeared together in Captain Blood (read about that here), the film that made them both stars. At the time, however, Olivia was under the impression that their on-screen pairings had ended after doing six films together. However, Flynn felt that she was the only one who could do the part justice and wanted to please fans who were writing in asking for another movie with the two of them.