Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Sword of Sherwood Forest (1960) film review.

Sword of Sherwood Forest was the second Hammer Robin Hood film after The Men of Sherwood Forest. The presence of Richard Greene in the lead role may satisfy many fans but the film is disappointing, long on dialogue, with rather too many tedious tests and demonstrations of Robin Hood's archery skills, and a basically simple plot which nevertheless becomes totally confusing due to its direction.
By this time in 1960 Richard Greene was of course the established image of Robin Hood in the public eye, and competently delivers here a slightly more aggressive Robin than in his television series. A blonde Maid Marian (Sarah Branch) was no doubt cast more for her chest size than her acting ability, (this being a Hammer film), whilst Little John (Nigel Green), is merely tall and Friar Tuck (Niall MacGinnis) is cantankerous but totally lacking any wit or humour. Director Terence Fisher, who normally excels in the Hammer Horror genre, fails here to ignite any action and the final swordfight, which lapses into a series of oddly still and staged poses, becomes ridiculous.
On the positive side Peter Cushing as the Sheriff of Nottingham is wonderful. Cushing plays the Sheriff as a military man, in many ways anticipating the Robert Shaw interpretation in Robin and Marian by almost two decades. Peter Cushing's Sheriff also, like Shaw's, has an underlying sense of honour which leads to his downfall. Another stand out performance is that of Oliver Reed in a cameo role as Lord Melton. Reed's psychopathic villain makes one wish he had been given a prominent Guy of Gisburne type role, but alas this is not the case. Filmed in Ireland the locations, sets and costumes are most pleasing, and fans of 1950’s British music will spot crooner Denis Lotis in the Alan A’ Dale role. But in conclusion, the combination of Hammer, Terence Fisher, and Richard Greene, promises much more than it delivers. (See comments box for more cast details).

Robin Hood film reviews at this website, and more pictures of Robin Hood at this website.

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