#251 The Adventures Of Robin Hood

(1938, Michael Curtiz & William Keighley)

“It’s injustice I hate, not the Normans”

Robin Hood is a great British legend, putting the city of Nottingham on the map before it became the mugging capital of Europe. Many interpretations of the Robin Hood legend have been committed to film over the years, from Russell Crowe’s moody portrayal to the glitzy Hollywood sheen of Prince Of Thieves to Disney’s 1950s anthropomorphic adventure.

But only one of these made it onto the Movies You Must See list – the original movie that cemented Errol Flynn’s star status, The Adventures Of Robin Hood.

The movie follows the basic structure of the Robin Hood legend. King Richard The Lionheart is busy fighting off the Assassin Order in the Crusades, leading his evil brother Prince John to claim the throne in his absence. The Earl of Loxley, a man named Robin (Flynn), doesn’t take kindly to John’s crippling taxes on the Saxon people and vows to fight back, forming a team of bandits in the forest to lead a revolution against the false king, while simultaneously trying to get into the britches of the fair Maid Marian (Olivia de Havilland).

Now, I must confess that my familiarity with this movie isn’t as great as my familiarity with the 1993 Mel Brooks spoof Men In Tights, and with Cary Elwes basing his entire performance in that movie on Flynn’s in this one, and many of the sets seemingly ripped from this movie, I found it hard to take Adventures completely seriously.

And it’s not like it did itself any favours. There were a few moments in The Adventures Of Robin Hood that felt far too silly. The expense spent on shooting the movie in Technicolor was definitely liberally used in the costume design, as Robin and his men were often seen wearing practically neon green outfits, with Will Scarlett opting for a striking red. I have no idea where these medieval Saxon men living in trees were able to contact a costume designer, but they could have toned it down a little.

And then you have the moments where fight sequences are so choreographed that characters will leave a busy room and find an empty one to continue fighting in, especially during the climax.

The movie also seemed to exist solely for these fights to happen. The plot of the movie felt incredibly flimsy. If I wasn’t already familiar with the legend of Robin Hood, I would have been completely lost about what was going on half the time. And for one of the first major cinematic adaptations of the legend, that’s not really a good thing.

Some elements of the plot also felt a little too convenient. It seemed far too easy for Maid Marian to get messages out to Robin and his men, and information always seemed to get where it needed to be much faster than you’d expect in a time period without telephones. I also felt a little confused by the introduction of King Richard’s return later in the movie, since his decision to hide away seemed a little baffling.

But this is all nitpicking when it’s clear that director Michael Curtiz and Flynn wanted to repeat the success of previous films such as Captain Blood by making an action-packed swashbuckler where Flynn could look cocky and say cool things while he swings a sword about.

That is exactly what Flynn did, and he was a joy to watch, as he threw one-liners and eyebrow-and-grin-heavy expressions around as much as Robin was shooting arrows. He carried the whole movie on being the most charming and cocky bastard in the room. And unlike other Robin Hoods, it certainly sounded like he spoke with an English accent.

And of course, all the swashbuckling action was absolutely fantastic to watch. The fight choreography and stunts were superb and the sets were magnificent. The Adventures Of Robin Hood is an exciting watch with plenty of flair to keep anyone entertained.

That’s all there really is to say, to be honest. The Adventures Of Robin Hood is an exciting swashbuckler that has some issues but overall you probably won’t notice them.

Starring Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Basil Rathbone & Claude Rains
Written by Norman Reilly Raine & Seton I. Miller
Produced by Hal B. Wallis & Henry Blanke
Music by Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Cinematography by Tony Gaudio & Sol Polito
Edited by Ralph Dawson

Favourite Scene: Robin stopping Prince John’s convoy with the power of THEATRICAL LAUGHTER!
Scene That Bugged Me: Did Robin and Guy of Gisbourne really need to go into another room to fight it out?

Watch it if: You like Robin Hood movies
Avoid it if: Kevin Costner really ruined the legend that much for you

Posted on January 9, 2014, in 1930s, Action, Adventure and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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