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Geoff Nicholson: The Errol Flynn Novel

Nicholson’s heroes are often naïve males, trying to find their way in the world but continuously hoodwinked by their elders. In this novel, the naïve hero is Jake and the segment of society that is the victim of Nicholson’s vicious wit is the film industry. Dan Ryan, a caricature of the bullying but underfinanced Hollywood producer, comes to England to make a film – the eponymous Errol Flynn Movie – and lucky Jake is the struggling actor who is tapped to play the Australian actor with the legendary massive dick.

It all starts with Sacha Henderson, an actress with whom Jake was at drama school a few years before and who was the nearest thing to a sex-goddess he’d ever encountered. She introduces Jake to Ryan and, pretty soon, Jake is asked to play Flynn in the film, without a screen test. The book proceeds with Jake learning about Flynn, starting the movie and trying to get into Sacha’s pants. Gradually, of course, things starting to go wrong. We have realised early on, though it takes Jake a little longer, that Sacha is Ryan’s mistress (despite the presence of Mrs. Ryan). We and Jake both know that the film is not going to go as planned and that Ryan has other problems (sex ‘n’ drugs ‘n’ rock’n’roll and their associated difficulties). There is also a sub-plot involving Jake’s past leading to an inevitable showdown with a cowboy.

But we really are here to talk about Errol Flynn’s dick because if you had not heard of it before reading this book, you certainly will have done so after reading it, as Nicholson constantly reminds us of it. If I had a problem with Flynn, says Jake, it was this: when I came to describe his qualities as an actor I found myself using a vocabulary that could equally well be used to describe a penis. So that Flynn was always upright, straight, erect. He was strong and sleek, but also delicate and sensitive.. You get the picture. Nicholson, so to speak, does not let go. If you like penis jokes, you might enjoy this book. Personally, I found this book to be one of Nicholson’s drooping, limp efforts.

Publishing history

First published 1993 by Hodder & Stoughton