Wednesday, March 3, 2010

son of captain blood

rat patrol on remote control. fort bragg.

A choice cut from what was originally envisioned as the double LP, "Rat Patrol from Fort Bragg". Produced by Mick Jones prior to the in party squabbling which saw the raw material being passed to Glynn Johns, and whittled back to one double sided slab of vinyl, singular.

Four songs, famously, were subsequently expunged on decommission - "Cool Confusion"; "First Night Back in London"; Beautiful People"; and "Kill Time" - none of which concerns us, critically, here.

The story of Sean Leslie Flynn, is convoluted and mired in rudely propogated evidence and anecdote.

The sole legitimate heir of swashbuckler, Errol - as a consequence of his marriage to Lila Dimita - Flynn Jr. was born in Los Angeles, California in May, 1941. After consenting to have the camera locked on him vicariously aged just fifteen, in the tv show "The Errol Flynn Theatre", Flynn Jr. swiftly turned his back on Hollywood in the wake of his father's demise and exited stage left to Africa. To try his fortune, rather predictably, as safari guide and big game hunter.

He promptly decided his skills were better employed behind the lens.

Sean Flynn arrived in South Vietnam in 1966, five years shy of thirty. Casting himself in the role of free-lance photojournalist, his images were brokered and published in the leading international magazines of the day: including Paris-Match and Time-Life. Flynn Jr., heroically reported as wounded 'in action' after a parachute jump in which he injured his knee, moved on to cover the Arab / Israeli war of 1967 before returning to Vietnam to document the uniformly condemned Tet Offesive of '68.

The twenty-seven-year-old was roundly celebrated in the feld, and still unable to flee the patriachal shadow.

From Wiki:

"On April 6, 1970, while travelling by motorcycle in Cambodia, Flynn and Dana Stone (on assignment for Time magazine and CBS News respectively) were captured by communist guerrillas at a roadblock on Highway One. They were never heard from again and their remains have never been found."

I vaguely recall a Sunday Times article from the late 80s, where significant coverage was given to Flynn's Paris apartment being legally disinterred after some twenty-five years in absentia. Sean Flynn was not declared 'legally' dead until 1984, three years after being immortalized in "Combat Rock". Such are the formalities. The dust infested trove behind closed shutters bore testament to a fittingly bygone era; those photographed artefacts - a shield of zebra skin, a yellowed ivory tusk - encapsulating not just French colonialism, but the ghost of Captain Blood as icon.

Even in death, the celluloid spectre of Errol Flynn was a mere half stop away.

photographs, top, and immediately above: allan grant, may, 1961.

THE CLASH: SEAN FLYNN from "Rat Patrol From Fort Bragg" 2 x LP Master (Bootleg) 1981 (UK)


Denier said...

Good piece, ib. Wow, never knew this story about Flynn Jr. Never made the connection with the Clash song.

ib said...

Yes. I'm assuming the Flynn fixation was Strummer's thang.

I wished I'd kept that supplement with the article on recovering Flynn's apartment. Or remembered the author.

Some of the accompanying shots of the uncovered contents were disturbingly lurid. Like flashbulb frames of a breaking and entry into the tomb of Im-Ho-Tep.

ib said...

Thanks to NØ for the "Fort Bragg" rip.

Ramone666 said...

Interesting story, didn´t know it either. And a fine, a-typical song.

ib said...

Both Strummer and Jones, of coure, were huge movie aficionados. Various strands of cinema - and Americana - inform many of their songs. From 'Taxi Driver' to 'Apocalypse Now'.

The weird tale of Flynn Jr., and his involvement in Vietnam in particular, must have struck Joe Strummer as irresistable fodder for "Rat Patrol from Fort Bragg".

I don't know that "Sean Flynn" is so atypical. But I wish they had taken a few more risks with "Combat Rock". It's those barey illuminated snapshots - rather than the big band sound - which keeps me coming back.

Anonymous said...

There are some interesting insights on Sean Flynn in the book "Dispatches" by Michael Herr who was also a journalist in Vietnam and knew Flynn quite well.

ib said...

Thanks for the nod, anonymous. I have not read "Dispatches".

I knew he (Herr) worked on 'Full Metal Jacket' with Kubrick, but I wasn't aware that characters from "Dispatches" served as a model for 'Apocalypse Now'. Or that he was in Coppola's employ as writer and adviser on set.

Ramone666 said...

You´ll love Dispatches Ib. My fave on Vietnam, and I´ve read a few. You can probably find a cheap copy on Amazon.