The Perfect Specimen

The Perfect Specimen is a 1937 film directed by Michael Curtiz and starring Errol Flynn and Joan Blondell. The picture is based on a novel by Samuel Hopkins Adams.

The Perfect Specimen
Film poster
Directed byMichael Curtiz
Written byNorman Reilly Raine
Lawrence Riley
Brewster Morse
Fritz Falkenstein
Samuel Hopkins Adams
StarringErrol Flynn
Joan Blondell
CinematographyCharles Rosher
Edited byTerry O. Morse
Distributed byWarner Bros. Pictures
Release date
  • October 23, 1937 (1937-10-23) (U.S.)
Running time
97 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$1,281,000[1]


Gerald Wicks, the heir to a large fortune, has never been outside the gates of his childhood estate. He goes on an adventure with newspaper reporter Mona Carter and they fall in love.


Original novel

The Perfect Specimen
AuthorSamuel Hopkins
PublisherNew York Liveright Publishing Corporation
Publication date

The book was based on a novel. The New York Times called it "a trifling little number. It reads like one of those old fashioned farce comedies... hammock reading for a hot afternoon."[2]


The film was Flynn's first comedy starring role and the movie always seems to have been considered a vehicle for him.[3] He made it after holidaying in Europe.[4]

Warners originally sought Carole Lombard or Miriam Hopkins to play against Errol Flynn[5] and for a while it seemed Hopkins was set to co-star. However she turned down the role and Warners decided to look at players assigned to their contract roster. The two leading contenders were Olivia de Havilland and Joan Blondell;[6] it was thought the former was ideal if the role was played in a "romantic" way but the latter should be preferred it they wanted someone "pepful and sparkling".[7] Blondell was cast and filming started in May 1937.

Marie Wilson was meant to play a small role but was assigned to The Great Garrick instead.[8] Dennie Moore replaced Jane Wyman.[9]

Joan Blondell fell ill during filming but recovered.[10]


The New York Times called the film a "light and unaffecting romantic comedy."[11]

May Robson's performance was highly praised in particular.[12]

Box Office

According to Warner Bros records the film earned $786,000 domestically and $495,000 foreign.[1]


  1. 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 18 DOI: 10.1080/01439689508604551
  2. PERFECT SPECIMEN By Samuel Hopkins 224 pp. New York Liveright Publishing Corporation. $2. F.T.M.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 17 May 1936: BR20.
  3. Tony Thomas, Rudy Behlmer * Clifford McCarty, The Films of Errol Flynn, Citadel Press, 1969 p 58-59
  4. NEWS OF THE SCREEN: ' Seventh Heaven' and 'Silent Barriers' Open Today-Dolly Haas to Bow in 'Absent Without Leave' News from Hollywood New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 25 Mar 1937: 29.
  5. HUSTQN IS SLATED FOR NEW FILM ROLE: May Appear With Miss Rogers for R.-K.-O.--FirstScreenTest Passed by Mrs. Moody ZUKOR DINNER TONIGHT 1,000 to Help Mark Producer's 25th Year in PicturesFrohman to Attend Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 29 Mar 1937: 14.
  6. NEW "TORCHY BLANE" AWAITING GLENDA FARRELL UPON RETURN: Gene Raymond to Act Again With Ann Sothern Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 12 May 1937: A10.
  7. WILD TRIO JOIN "MAKE A WISH" AS BOBBY BREEN OPUS POSTPONED: Girls Debated for "Perfect Specimen" Role Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 07 May 1937: 19.
  8. WARNERS TO STAGE PLAYS IN LONDON: Complete Plans to Produce in the Fall--Shows Later to Be Converted Into Films A PURCHASE BY GOLDWYN He Gets Screen Rights to 'The Duchess of Broadway'--Other Picture News News From Hollywood New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 12 June 1937: 8.
  9. NEWS OF THE SCREEN: ' Slave Ship' Tonight at the Rivoli--Warner Standard May Fly Over Broadway in Autumn News From Hollywood New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 16 June 1937: 27.
  10. DOUG FAIRBANKS, JR., WILL STAY IN HOLLYWOOD FOR HEPBURN COMEDY: Marla Shelton to Play "Star" in "Stand-In" Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 29 June 1937: 13.
  11. THE SCREEN: With Errol Flynn as Exhibit A, the Warners Present 'The Perfect Specimen' at the Strand Theatre By FRANK S. NUGENT. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 28 Oct 1937: 29.
  12. BEST PERFORMANCES IN CURRENT PICTURES Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 07 Nov 1937: C1.
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