Adventures of Captain Fabian

Adventures of Captain Fabian is a 1951 American adventure film directed by William Marshall and starring Errol Flynn, Micheline Presle, Vincent Price, Agnes Moorehead and Victor Francen

Adventures of Captain Fabian
1951 theatrical poster
Directed byWilliam Marshall
Robert Florey
Produced byRobert Dorfmann
Written byErrol Flynn (screenplay)
Robert T. Shannon (novel)
StarringErrol Flynn
Micheline Presle
Vincent Price
Agnes Moorehead
Victor Francen
Music byRené Cloërec
CinematographyMarcel Grignon
Edited byHenri Taverna
Les Films Corona
Silver Films
Distributed byRepublic Pictures
Release date
  • October 6, 1951 (1951-10-06) (United States)
Running time
100 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office1,505,518 admissions (France)[1]

The plot is about the travails of a French Creole maid in a household of 1860 New Orleans and her romantic involvement with Captain Fabian. As with many later Flynn features, the tangled production history is arguably more interesting: Marshall, the co-producer and husband of Micheline Presle, began shooting in France with no experience as a director and without realizing that French law required a parallel French-language version. Robert Florey, who had directed Flynn in his last bit part in 1935, was hired as an uncredited "consultant". The same year Marshall and Flynn also produced the unreleased Hello God.


An ambitious girl (Micheline Presle) uses a sea captain (Errol Flynn) to climb the social ladder in old New Orleans.



The film was originally known as The Bargain and was based on a script by Errol Flynn himself. Flynn entered into a multi-picture deal with William Marshall to produce the film, among others, in July 1949.[2][3] It was to be produced independently with a distributor sought later.[4] Micheline Presle was borrowed from 20th Century Fox to play the female lead.[5] Gérard Philipe was to be in the cast but did not appear in the end.[6] (Presle and Marshall later married.[7])

At one stage the film was also known as Bloodline and New Orleans Adventure.[8] Filming started on July 15 1950 in Paris under the title of The Bargain. Exteriors representing New Orleans were recreated in the city of Villefranche with studio scenes shot at the Victorine Studios in Nice and the Billancourt Studios in Paris.

The film was meant to be shot in French and English versions but Marshall persuaded the French government to allow it to be made in English only. Robert Florey started the English production but not long after shooting began Marshall took over.[9]

Under Errol Flynn's contract with Warner Bros, he was allowed to make one "outside" film a year until 1962, provided it had a major distributor. Flynn later claimed that during filming, William Marshall "secretly" committed the film to being released by Republic Pictures, one of the smaller studios. Both Warner Bros and MGM, who had films starring Flynn awaiting release, were unhappy with this. Flynn worried that Warner Bros would use this as an excuse to cancel their contract with him on the basis that Republic was not a major. On 18 December 1950 he filed suit in the Los Angeles Superior Court asking them to stop Republic from releasing the film and to stop Warner Bros from cancelling the contract until the court could determine that Republic was a "major" distributor.[10][11]


The film was reasonably successful at the box office in France.[1]

Critical reception

The Los Angeles Times said that the film "is much in need of both editing and shortening. It will draw approval for the colourfulness of its settings and interesting costuming. The audience seemed to enjoy it though there was a tendency towards laughter for scenes not especially designed for comedy... One cannot conclude that this picture in its present shape hangs together satisfactorily."[12]

Proposed sequels

The movie was meant to be the first of two films from Flynn and Marshall, the second which was to be The Man Who Cried, a psychological thriller about the perfect crime set over a four-hour period, but this wasn't made due to a dispute between Marshall and Flynn over Hello God.[13][14]


In November 1951, Charles Gross, an associate of Flynn's, sued claiming payments due for working on the screenplay.[9]

In January 1952, Flynn asked a court to formally end the partnership with Marshall.[15]

In 1954, Vincent Price sued Flynn and Marshall for $15,000 in unpaid wages, claiming he had been promised a fee of $35,000. A court awarded in his favour in 1957.[16]


  1. 1951 Box Office Figures at Box Office Story
  2. James Mitchell Wins Musical Role at Metro; Pal Turns to Realism Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 13 Dec 1949: B7.
  3. Errol Flynn Treasure Turns Up Parsons, Louella. The Washington Post, Times Herald [Washington, D.C] 18 Feb 1960: C27.
  4. FLYNN TO APPEAR IN HIS OWN MOVIE: Will Produce 'Bargain' With Co-Author, William Marshall, in France This Summer Of Local Origin By THOMAS F. BRADY New York Times 07 Jan 1950: 20.
  5. Looking at Hollywood Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Daily Tribune 28 Dec 1949: 19.
  6. HEDDA HOPPER: Deborah Kerr Will Star in 'Ivanhoe' Los Angeles Times 28 Dec 1949: 8.
  7. Smooth voice of Poverty Row Marshall, William. The Guardian [London (UK)] 25 June 1994: 28.
  8. Trevor Howard Signed for Allen Film; Ladd Again Hero of Outdoors Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 27 Sep 1950: 19.
  9. Tony Thomas, Rudy Behlmer & Clifford McCarty, The Films of Errol Flynn, Citadel Press, 1969 p 174-175
  10. HOLLYWOOD UNREST: Refusal of Cost-of-Living Wage Increase Draws Union Fire--Other Studio Items No Rebuttal Question Slightly Involved Wash Day FROM FRANCE By THOMAS F. BRADY. New York Times 24 Dec 1950: 43.
  11. ERROL FLYNN SUES OVER FILM RELEASE: Wants Picture He Made With William Marshall Abroad Handled by Major Studio By THOMAS F. BRADY New York Times 19 Dec 1950: 48.
  12. Prelle Best in 'Fabian'; 'Sea Hornet' Creditable Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 22 Sep 1951: A7.
  13. Drama: Crime Thriller Slated for Flynn; Cobb Deal Looms for Wexley Film, Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 11 May 1950: A15.
  14. GROWING CONCERN: Hollywood Reacts Uneasily to Red Probe Findings--Flynn and Marshall Feud Reaction Disgruntled Partners Mayer and TV HOUR OF RECKONING IN THE OLD SOUTH By THOMAS F. BRADY. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 22 Apr 1951: 97.
  15. Errol Flynn Asks Court to End Film Partnership Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 18 Jan 1952: A7.
  16. FAULKNER NOVEL BOUGHT FOR FILM: Jerry Wald Will Produce 'The Long Hot Summer,' Based on 'The Hamlet' By THOMAS M. PRYOR Special to The New York Times.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 15 Mar 1957: 21.
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