● Beam Ends. Longmans Green & Co., US, hardcover, 1937. Paperback reprint: Dell #195, 1947.
    ● Showdown. Sheridan House, US, hardcover, 1946. Paperback reprints include: Dell # 351, 1949; Pocket Cardinal, 1960.

   It’s been a pretty mixed bag of reading/watching recently, starting with two books by Errol Flynn, Beam Ends (1937) and Showdown (1946) both quite well done and easily enjoyable.

   Beam Ends tells the autobiographical tale of a voyage up the coast of Australia from Doney to New Guinea in a ship manifestly unsuited to the task. Flynn was in his early 20s when he launched this bit of adolescent insanity, and in his early 30s when he wrote of it — older but hardly wiser, and the book is suffused with that youthful energy that only comes once in life; somehow we never really appreciate being young and foolish till we get to be old and stupid.

   Flynn’s prose is like his acting: hardly deep and not really skillful, but gracefully done and easy on the eyes.


   Pity, then, that it took him almost ten years to put out his only other book-length effort (I’m not counting the ghost-written posthumous autobiography My Wicked, Wicked Ways) a slight novel called Showdown.

   But a fun one. Cast almost entirely with stock characters, Showdown tells of a footloose Irish sailor and his run-ins with missionaries, head-hunters, spies and movie stars in the South Seas.

   A wild tale, acted out by a cast of characters no deeper than the thickness of pulp-paper, but fast-moving, suspenseful and quite readable. Turning the last page, I again got the feeling one gets from Errol Flynn’s movies: there’s talent here that’s fun to watch, but with a little more work it could have been something really fine.