Kevin Kline and Swashbucklers

I first saw Kevin Kline in the film version of the 1983 film version of The Pirates of Penzance. He played the Pirate King, and he was perfect for the part–handsome, graceful, athletic, and funny. It struck me that, if he had been born 50 years earlier, he could have been a great swashbuckling star, right up there with Douglas Fairbanks and Errol Flynn.

So I was delighted, less than a decade later, when I found out that he’d been cast as Fairbanks in Richard Attenborough’s biopic, Chaplin. That movie disappointed me in many ways, but casting wasn’t one of them. Kline made a great Fairbanks.

And now, more than 20 years later, he’s playing Errol Flynn in The Last of Robin Hood. Of course, he’s playing an old Errol Flynn. About to turn 67, Kline could no longer play the Flynn who leaped with such grace in the 1930s.

On the other hand, Flynn died at 50, so Kline still has to play someone considerably younger than himself.

But then, on the other other hand,  Kline at 66 looks better than Flynn at 50. Errol Flynn did not take good care of himself.

Kline has appeared in a lot of excellent movies that had nothing to do with swashbuckling: Sophie’s Choice, The Big Chill, Silverado, Soapdish, The Ice Storm, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream to name a few.

But it’s nice to see that his talent for swashbuckling has been recognized. He never got to star in a real swashbuckler, but twice now, he has starred as a real swashbuckler.

And unless it gets really horrible reviews, I plan to see The Last of Robin Hood.