Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Adventures of Robin Hood 1938

The Adventures of Robin Hood is probably the most successful and popular Robin Hood film of all time, winning three academy awards. Errol Flynn relishes playing Hollywood's swashbuckling interpretation of the lead role, opposite Basil Rathbone's dastardly (and camp) Guy of Gisbourne, and the emphasis throughout is clearly on action and romance. This movie was clearly a huge influence on future Robin Hood film makers, especially the decades later Kevin Costner version Robin Prince of Thieves which emulates much of its vine swinging through the forest style.
All the elements of the traditional legend are present: The encounter on the bridge with Little John; crossing the river with Friar Tuck; and the Golden Arrow contest. Maid Marian played by Olivia de Havilland, is elevated to the status of royal ward, and the elaborate costumes come thick and fast. Indeed, what in 1938 was considered one of the film's strengths, its colour and spectacle, is today a part of it's downfall; the merry men of sherwood resembling at times a group of garden gnomes rather than Saxon outlaws. (This can be particularly distracting during the speeded up fight sequences in Sherwood Forest!) Another weakness is the foppish Will Scarlet character, Robin's closest friend right from the outset of the film, and dressed from head to toe in Technicolour scarlet.
Nevertheless, one cannot help but be thrilled at Robin's impudent entrance into the heart of Nottingham Castle, throwing a dead stag before Prince John's guests, and at the sword fighting climax between Robin and Sir Guy, casting dramatic shadows across the walls; a fight which passed into Hollywood legend and rightly so. The real life hellraising friendship between Rathbone and Flynn, and the oft reported fact that de Havilland was actually in love with him, surely helped the on screen chemistry. Errol Flynn's The Adventures of Robin Hood is certain to retain its popular status with the general public and with younger fans, although hard core Robin aficionados might prefer a less flambouyant interpretation of the legend.

The Pictures of Robin Hood website and the Robin Hood website both feature more pictures from this film together with reviews of other Robin Hood films.

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