Thursday, June 15, 2006

A Challenge for Robin Hood (1967)

A Challenge for Robin Hood came at a time when all Hammer films were suffering from a distinct lack of energy and inspiration compared to their earlier works, and this was no exception. The intention seems to be to rewrite the story of Robin Hood almost entirely, having already exploited the popularity of Richard Greene in the earlier Sword of Sherwood Forest. In Challenge for Robin Hood Robin is a Norman landowner, with Will Scarlet and Little John numbering among his men. He is outlawed when falsely accused of murdering his uncle, and flees to Sherwood Forest where he meets Alan A Dale and a band of outlaws. Once he has proved his worth to a sceptical Alan A Dale his intelligence and skill with the long bow quickly make him their elected leader.
Robin Hood is played by Barry Ingham and his toupee; the performance is adequate but could never compete with the public's expectations as defined by Richard Greene. Will Scarlet is agreeably aggressive and stocky in appearance, but the concept of acting eludes him as it does Leon Greene in the Little John role. Robin Hood fans will be pleased to see the aging James Hayter return as Friar Tuck once more, but for nostalgic reasons only. The dark, gothic atmosphere normally associated with a Hammer film is missing, Lincoln green costumes are freshly pressed and tailor made, whilst the sight of Robin and Little John singing around the camp fire (“camp” being the operative word) is frankly hilarious.
However, there are good points. John Arnatt as the Sheriff of Nottingham deserves credit for his portrayal of the Sheriff as a sly, scheming, manipulator of those around him. Also Alan A Dale, played by Eric Flynn, has a more central role than in any other Robin Hood film, with the possible exception of Walt Disney's The Story of Robin Hood. But this Alan A Dale is an aggressive outlaw, keen to wreak revenge on the Normans. He only becomes the musical Alan A'Dale of legend near the end, and when he does it is a disappointment because it is his aggression which has propelled so much of the film to that point. (See comments box for more cast details).

The Robin Hood website for pictures of Robin Hood :

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