CUBAN STORY (1959) AND CUBAN REBEL GIRLS (1959)

In the late 1950s movie star Errol Flynn owned a movie theater in Havana. Not the beautifully chiseled Flynn from The Adventures of Robin Hood, but a fat 50 year old has-been, yellowed with cirrhosis, eaten up with syphilis and dodging numerous creditors, including the IRS, with his latest teen age girlfriend: fourteen year old Beverly Aadland. Flynn, probably feeling his self-fulfilled hour (which predictably came shortly after) wanted to sow his macho oats one last time in the thick of the Cuban revolution (clearly, he wasn’t up to it).

Flynn, with Producer Victor Pahlen, made this pseudo-documentary about Flynn’s meeting Castro, although this meeting is only seen in photographs.

The film proclaims Flynn a sympathizer with Castro’s Batista Regime (paradoxically, he was also posthumously charged with being a fascist sympathizer during WWII). Most likely, this was a feeble effort, on the part of Pahlen and Flynn, to cash in on being in the right place at the right time.

Cuban Story [AKA The Truth About Fidel Castro Revolution] was only screened once, in Moscow, and disappeared until Pahlen’s daughter released it the early 2000s. This utterly bizarre film begins with Flynn drunkenly narrating (more like a strained slur), from a cheap office, something about “freedom fighters.” Flynn, with long cigarette hanging from his mouth, picks up a globe to show viewers “‘where Cuba is” and then throws the globe off camera. It can be heard bouncing off the wall. The remaining film narration (credited to Flynn, although it clearly is not) is frequently incoherent, pro-Castro, and pro-terrorist.

According to Pahlen’s film, Flynn made his way through the heart of the revolution to meet Castro, but the only footage of the extremely soused, dissipated Flynn is of his escorting women into one of George Raft’s casinos, to gamble with them and Beverly. The rest of the film is a collage of seemingly unrelated, and often shocking, but historically valuable footage. Silent images of slain “comrades” and the savage killing of young men in the streets as Batista police casually observe are unsettling.

Cuban Story is redeeming in its historical value and its unintentional strangeness, both in presentation and behind the scenes. Cuban Rebel Girls [AKA Assault of the Rebel Girls] has no such redeeming qualities.

This was the film directed by Flynn collaborator Barry Mahon  (who went onto make a lot of soft core porn) and was written by Flynn. Cuban Rebel Girls has to be seen to be believed. Its sheer awfulness is almost shocking, and should rank near the top of any bad movie lovers divine all-time list.

It stars Flynn and underage squeeze Aadland. In delivering her dialogue, Aadland can give Delores Fuller a serious run for the money as all time worst acting by a female lead. She sounds every bit the 50s malt shop high school beautician as she is recruited into the jungle with the fighting Cuban Rebel Girls!

Endless nonsensical narration floods the film. Still, it’s better than the excruciating dialogue, such as Aadland’s “When do I get to kill somebody?” One can almost hear Flynn leering, “Isn’t she cute?”

Cuban Rebel GirlsThe film does have, remarkably, footage of Castro’s victory parade, and Flynn finally shows up again near the end (as in Story, he’s barely in the movie) to give a sloshed, stuttering, short of breath attempt at a Captain Blood-like speech: “Hey men, and women, freedom fighters—good luck!”

These films together constitute truly numbing, almost unbelievable experience. They really do exist. You simply can’t make this shit up.

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