Adventures of Don Juan

Adventures of Don Juan (released in the UK as The New Adventures of Don Juan) is a 1948 American Technicolor swashbuckling adventure romance film directed by Vincent Sherman and starring Errol Flynn and Viveca Lindfors, with Robert Douglas, Alan Hale, Ann Rutherford, and Robert Warwick. Also in the cast are Barbara Bates, Raymond Burr, and Mary Stuart. The film was distributed by Warner Bros. and produced by Jerry Wald. The screenplay by George Oppenheimer and Harry Kurnitz, based on a story by Herbert Dalmas, has uncredited contributions by William Faulkner and Robert Florey.

Adventures of Don Juan
Theatrical release poster
Directed byVincent Sherman
Produced byJerry Wald
Written byHerbert Dalmas
George Oppenheimer
Harry Kurnitz
StarringErrol Flynn
Viveca Lindfors
Music byMax Steiner
CinematographyElwood Bredell
Edited byAlan Crosland, Jr.
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
December 24, 1948 (New York)[1]
Running time
110 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$3,408,000[2][3] or $3 million[4]
Box office$4,772,000[2][3]

The film was originally to be scored by Erich Wolfgang Korngold. However, production of the film was postponed until 1947, by which time Korngold had retired from scoring motion pictures. He was replaced by Max Steiner. Most of the music, particularly the theme for the sword fighting scenes, is taken from The Mark of Zorro (1940). Alfred Newman’s score for that picture was nominated for an Academy Award.


Late in the reign of Elizabeth I of England, Spanish noble Don Juan de Maraña is repatriated from London to Madrid, following a diplomatic scandal caused by his dalliance with the British fiancée of a Spanish nobleman. The Spanish ambassador in London, Count de Polan, an old family friend, sends a letter of recommendation to Queen Margaret of Spain.

He requests that she provide an opportunity at the Spanish court for the rehabilitation of Don Juan's reputation from the swirling gossip and scandal that have followed him around Europe in the wake of his many illicit love affairs. Accepting her old friend's suggestion, Queen Margaret thus appoints Don Juan as a fencing instructor to the Royal Spanish Academy, where he is a great success. During his time at court, he secretly falls in love with the Queen but remains a staunchly loyal subject to her and her irresponsible and weak husband, King Phillip III.

Don Juan discovers a treacherous plan by the Machiavellian Duke de Lorca, who is holding the loyal Count de Polan as a secret prisoner. The Duke is plotting to depose the monarchs, usurp their power over Spain, and declare war on England. With the support of his friends at court, Don Juan heroically defends the Queen and the King against de Lorca and his henchmen, finally defeating his plan in a duel to death, saving Spain.

The queen professes her love for Don Juan, now seeing his many virtues. Despite loving her deeply, more than any other woman in his life, he says that they could never be happy or survive such scandal. Both her subjects and Spain would fare poorly under the sole rule of the king. They both have a higher duty that must be served. Since the queen is the one woman he truly loves and can never rightfully have, he asks that she allow him to leave court and to continue his life elsewhere. She painfully grants him his wish, and he leaves the palace forever to continue his journeys in Spain.



Warner Bros had a big box office hit in the 1920s with Don Juan (1926) starring John Barrymore.

Proposed 1939 film

Errol Flynn was linked with a Don Juan project as early as the 1930s.[5] In March 1939 Warner Bros announced The Adventures of Don Juan with Flynn was one of the 48 films they announced to make over 1939-40.[6] W.R. Burnett was assigned to write the picture after a John Dillinger movie he was working on was postponed. Warrners said Olivia de Havilland, Priscilla Lane, Margaret Lindsay, Ann Sheridan and Lya Lys would appear in the film, along with five other female actors.[7] Filming was to proceed once Flynn had finished on The Knight and the Lady (which became The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex.)[8] Franciska Gaal was screen tested for a role.[9]

Filming wound up being postponed and Flynn went into The Sea Hawk (1940) Instead. The advent of World War Two saw a decline in the production of elaborate costume pictures, and Flynn was more commonly found in war films and Westerns.

Proposed 1945 Film

The project was reactivated in 1944, with Jerry Wald attached as producer, Alan Le May as writer and Robert Florey as director. Flynn was meant to make it after he finished San Antonio.[10]

In January 1945 Herbert Dalmas and Harry Goldman were reportedly working on the script. (The time period of this film would change from Italy of the Borgias in the 1926 Barrymore version to 1620 Spain under Philip III.)[11]

In March 1945 Raoul Walsh was announced as director.[12] Claudette Colbert was sought for the female lead.[13] The proposed cast at this time only included Flynn, Victor Francen (as the King), and Dorothy Malone from the eventual film.[14]

The film was to have started filming in early May 1945 with a budget of $2 million. The studio set for Mexico city used in Juarez (1939) was turned into Madrid. Flynn did fencing training with Fred Cravens and Colouris did extensive dieting for the role. According to studio publicity, 54 ladies were auditioned to play Juan's eight love interests and the film would use 124 different sets and over 3,7000 costumes.[15]

Filming was postponed due to difficulty in sourcing costumes (there was a general post war shortage) and an industry strike which affected the ability to paint and construct sets. On 9 May the decision was made to postpone the film indefinitely and the actors were assigned to other films.[16][17] Flynn was put into Don't Ever Leave Me (which became Never Say Goodbye.[18])

Further development

In January 1946 Warners put the film back on the schedule.[19] Martha Vickers, Dorothy Malone, Peggy Knudsen, Joan Lorring and Joan Chandler were announced for support parts.[20] However filming continued to be delayed.

Warner Bros were encouraged to re-activate the film again by a successful 1947 reissue of Flynn's earlier starring vehicles, The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) and The Sea Hawk (1940).[17]

In February 1947 Jean Negulesco was announced as director.[21] Alexis Smith was to be his co star and filming was to take place after Flynn finished Silver River.[22]

Negulesco later recalled the film was "the most expensive and sought-after project on the Warner lot. I had unorthodox ideas about Don Juan: I thought he should have been a victim of women rather than their victimizer. Flynn didn't agree with me at all because he still wanted to be the wonderful guy who jumps out the windo pursued by the irate husband saying 'You made love to my wife' and all that."[23]

After three months Flynn told Jack Warner he would not make the film with Negulesco. Warner told the director "Johnny I cannot make Don Juan without Errol Flynn but I can make it without you."[23] Negulesco agreed and Warner assigned him to producer Jerry Wald for Johnny Belinda.[23]

By September 1947 Vincent Sherman was to direct from a script by George Oppenheimer and Harry Kurnitz. Romney Brent who played the Dauphin in Joan of Lorraine was signed to play Philip III. In October Viveca Lindfors was given the female lead.[24][25]


Shooting eventually began in October 1947.

Errol Flynn was suffering from poor health, allegedly from a mild heart condition and recurrent bouts of hepatitis. According to film historian Tony Thomas, Flynn drank heavily during the production's shooting. Filming was frequently halted due to Flynn's physical condition and by frequent changes and replacements in production personnel. In January Flynn was hospitalised and was ill for fifteen days, causing production to halt. Flynn returned, but fell ill again and the production shut down once more.[26][27] On 6 February the production shut down a third time, for a fortnight, because of Flynn's illness.[28] In March it was estimated that Flynn had missed 64 days of shooting.[29]

The rising costs concerned Warner Bros about the profitability of the film, particularly as Britain, which was expected to be a major market, recently introduced a heavy tax on Hollywood films.[30]

In the famous on-screen leap from the head of a long staircase, Flynn was doubled by stunt expert Jock Mahoney.[31] In the silent film Don Juan (1926), Flynn's idol John Barrymore performed a similar leap without a stunt double.

At the end of the picture, the young woman in the coach asking Don Juan for directions is Flynn's wife, Nora Eddington.

During filming, in November, Flynn signed a new contract with Warner Bros to make one film a year until 1961, of which Don Juan was to be the first.[32]

The chase scene early in the film used recycled footage from The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), and is then followed by a grand procession with recycled outtakes from The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939), both starring Errol Flynn and Alan Hale.

The film is the last of 13 in which Hale and his close friend Errol Flynn appeared together. Hale died on January 22, 1950, just over a year after this film's theatrical release.


The score was adapted years later by composer Ian Fraser for the George Hamilton swashbuckling comedy film Zorro, The Gay Blade (1981).[33] A portion was also used in two scenes in the film The Goonies (1985), although in the first scene, it accompanied a TV broadcast of an earlier film, Captain Blood (1935).



Bosley Crowther of The New York Times wrote: "Warner Brothers have generously contributed a production of rare magnificence. The sets and costumes are exquisite—there is no other word ... If for no other reason than to take a look at the splash, we suggest you see this picture. It is something to remember old Hollywood by."[34] Variety wrote that out of several recent swashbuckling films, "'Adventures of Don Juan' measures up among the best of them ... The loves and escapades of the fabulous Don Juan are particularly adapted to the screen abilities of Errol Flynn and he gives them a flare that pays off strongly."[35] Harrison's Reports called the film "trite both in story and treatment," but "should go over pretty well with those who enjoy colorful pageantry with plenty of glittering swordplay and exciting chases."[36] John McCarten of The New Yorker called it "a picture that demonstrates once again that Errol Flynn is muscular as all get out but quite innocent of any ability in the acting line."[37]

Box office

The film was very successful in Europe, earning $2,607,000. It recorded admissions of 3,763,314 in France, making it the 7th most popular film in the country that year.[38]

However, in the US it made only $1.9 million in 1949[39] and $2,165,000 overall, meaning it struggled to recoup its large budget. From this point on, Warner Bros reduced the budgets of Flynn's films.[17][2]

Awards and honors

The film won the Academy Award for Best Costume Design, Color (Leah Rhodes, Travilla and Marjorie Best) and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Art Direction-Set Direction, Color (Edward Carrere, Lyle Reifsnider).[40]

Comic book

Norman Pett drew a comic book adaptation of the film in 1948.[41]


  1. "Adventures of Don Juan". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Retrieved May 15, 2018.
  2. Warner Bros financial information in The William Shaefer Ledger. See Appendix 1, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, (1995) 15:sup1, 1-31 p 29 DOI: 10.1080/01439689508604551
  3. Glancy, H. Mark. "Warner Bros film grosses, 1921-51." Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television. March 1995.
  4. Variety 18 February 1948 p 14
  5. Three Leads Selected for 'Disputed Passage' Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 8 Mar 1939: A10.
  6. Studio Plans 48 Pictures: Warner Convention Will Hear Program Coming Season Los Angeles Times 13 Mar 1939: 14.
  7. SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD: 'Every Day Is Sunday' and Its Annual Football Story Are Announced by Paramount 'LET US LIVE' OPENS TODAY Local Premiere for 'Bulldog Drummond's Secret Police' Also Scheduled Of Local Origin By DOUGLAS W. CHURCHILL Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES. 29 Mar 1939: 21.
  8. Five Beauties Chosen for 'Don Juan' Film: 'Chans' Set for Toler Kilburn With Rooney Warners Testing Regan Frances Robinson Cast Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-1995); Los Angeles, Calif. [Los Angeles, Calif]08 Apr 1939: A9.
  9. Madness Over Family Films Spreads Apace Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 20 Apr 1939: A15.
  10. 'Don Juan' Definitely Set for Errol Flynn: Hope, Paramount Differ on 'Brunette;' British Producer Bids for Granville Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 26 Oct 1944: A9.
  11. NEWS OF THE SCREEN: Bogart and Stanwyck Will Star in 'Fountainhead'-- 'Moscow Skies' Due at the Stanley Today New York Times 20 Jan 1945: 16.
  12. SCREEN NEWS: RKO to Feature Carney and Brown in Comedy New York Times 2 Mar 1945: 15.
  13. Claudette Colbert Sought for 'Don Juan' Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 3 Mar 1945: A5.
  14. "Screen News: Wilder Gets Offer of OWI Post in Germany". The New York Times. 6 March 1945. p. 18. Retrieved April 18, 2019.
  15. HOLLYWOOD ON THE WIRE: 'Borgia' Trouble On the Bandwagon MORE WEST COAST NEWS Wants Chance to Act Off Schedule By FRED STANLEY. New York Times 29 Apr 1945: X1.
  16. SCREEN NEWS: Strike Holds Up Latest Errol Flynn Film New York Times 10 May 1945: 19.
  17. Tony Thomas, Rudy Behlmer & Clifford McCarty, The Films of Errol Flynn, Citadel Press, 1969 p 156-157
  18. SCREEN NEWS: Warners to Star Flynn in 'Don't Ever Leave Me' Of Local Origin New York Times 14 June 1945: 23.
  19. Monogram Plans Horse Story in Technicolor Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-1995); Los Angeles, Calif. [Los Angeles, Calif]19 Jan 1946: A5.
  20. Raines, Cameron Duo; Star of Piano Signed Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 20 Feb 1946: A3.
  21. DRAMA AND FILM: Cummings Will Portray Star in 'Big Curtain' Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-1995); Los Angeles, Calif. [Los Angeles, Calif]28 Feb 1947: A3.
  22. HEPBUM TO STAR IN FILM AT METRO: Will Have Lead in "The House Above the River," Based on Michael Foster's Novel By THOMAS F. BRADY Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times (1923-Current file); New York, N.Y. [New York, N.Y]04 Apr 1947: 19.
  23. Higham, Charles; Greenberg, Joel (1971). The celluloid muse; Hollywood directors speak. Regnery. p. 218.
  24. ROLE AT WARNERS FOR ROMNEY BRENT: Broadway Star to Play Part of Philip III in 'Don Juan' -- Errol Flynn Has Lead New York Times 18 Sep 1947: 29.
  25. News of the Screen The Christian Science Monitor 9 Oct 1947: 5.
  26. Broadway's Baragrey Picked as Bullfighter Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-1995); Los Angeles, Calif. [Los Angeles, Calif]20 Jan 1948: A9.
  27. METRO ACQUIRES J.D. BROWN NOVEL: To Film 'Stars in My Crown,' Post-Civil War Period Story -- Henreid Project Set By THOMAS F. BRADYS New York Times 31 Jan 1948: 14.
  28. BETTE DAVIS STAR OF 'ETHAN FROME': Warners to Film Wharton's Novel on New England -Windust Will Direct New York Times 7 Feb 1948: 10.
  29. New Lynn Deal on Fire; Brazil Lures Isabelita Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 16 Mar 1948: 17.
  30. Letter from Hollywood By Frank Daugherty Special to The Christian Science Monitor. The Christian Science Monitor 30 Jan 1948: 5.
  32. ERROL FLYNN SIGNS NEW WARNER PACT: Actor Will Star in One Film a Year Until 1961 at Studio -- 'Don Juan' Is First By THOMAS F. BRADY Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times (1923-Current file); New York, N.Y. [New York, N.Y]28 Nov 1947: 31.
  34. Crowther, Bosley (December 25, 1948). "'Adventures of Don Juan,' With Errol Flynn, Viveca Lindfors, Has Premiere at Strand". The New York Times: 10.
  35. "Adventures of Don Juan". Variety: 6. December 29, 1948.
  36. "'Adventures of Don Juan' with Errol Flynn and Viveca Lindfors". Harrison's Reports: 206. December 25, 1948.
  37. McCarten, John (January 8, 1949). "The Current Cinema". The New Yorker: 58.
  38. 1948 French box office information at Box Office Story
  39. "Top Grossers of 1949". Variety. 4 January 1950. p. 59.
  40. "NY Times: Adventures of Don Juan". NY Times. Retrieved 20 December 2008.
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