Saturday, December 16, 2006

Robin Hood (1922)

The Douglas Fairbanks version of Robin Hood (1922) is not in all truth an artistic classic of the silent movie era. But it is certainly a huge spectacle, and was designed as such to appeal to a public which had previously flocked to see him in his first historical action adventure film "The Mark of Zorro". This was a time when a cast of a thousand extras, and huge theatrical sets, provided the backdrop to Fairbanks's swashbuckling style as he produced and directed himself through a series of box office smashes.
The first part of the film concentrates on the Earl of Huntingdon as he becomes King Richard the Lionheart's favoured knight, beating the cheating Guy of Gisborne in a jousting tournament, and accompanying the King as they depart for the Crusades. The night before their departure the Earl of Huntingdon meets Lady Marian, having to rescue her from the advances of Prince John. This makes him both the enemy of the Prince and Guy, the latter of which has desires of his own for Marian.
No sooner has the King's Army departed for the Crusades than Prince John and Guy of Gisborne begin to terrorise the countryside in their attempt to take over the throne. Marian despatches the Earl's Squire (soon to become Little John), to tell both Huntingdon and King Richard of what is happening. But Huntingdon decides not to give the King the news for fear it will make him turn back from his task in the Holy Lands. So he "deserts" the King, returning to England to deal with the matter himself.No sooner is the Earl back in England than mysterious arrows (accompanied by gusts of wind), appear out of the forest, cautioning the movements of the Sheriff of Nottingham and all who are disloyal to the King. Sadly we never get to see how Friar Tuck, Alan A’ Dale, nor Will Scarlet join the Merry Men. And of course there is no legendary encounter on the bridge with Little John because he is already Robert Huntingdon's Squire. What we do get is much prancing through the forest, accompanied by a histrionic waving of arms, as if to drive home the none too subtle point that these Men are indeed Merry. The best silent films are neither this crude nor this obvious.Douglas Fairbanks was a slightly portly 39 when he made "Robin Hood". To be honest he looks older. Of interest to Robin Hood fans is the fact that Little John is played by Alan Hale, the same actor who played the part opposite Errol Flynn in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), upon which the Fairbanks style was a notable influence. (Alan Hale would play Little John a third time in "Rogues of Sherwood Forest", 1950.) The 1922 silent version of "Robin Hood" was a huge commercial success. The fact it has aged so badly has nothing to do with the absence of sound.
More pictures from this film on THIS LINK. See Robin Hood even BEFORE silent movies were invented on THIS LINK.

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Blogger robin hood said...

Robin Hood 1922 cast list

Douglas Fairbanks : Earl of Huntingdon / Robin Hood
Wallace Beery : King Richard the Lion-Hearted
Sam De Grasse : Prince John
Enid Bennett : Lady Marian Fitzwalter
Paul Dickey : Sir Guy of Gisbourne
William Lowery : The High Sheriff of Nottingham
Willard Louis : Friar Tuck
Alan Hale : The Squire / Little John
Bud Geary : Will Scarlett
Lloyd Talman : Allan-a-Dale

6:32 PM  
Blogger Carol said...

It's been awhile since I stopped by, dear Robin....hope you're well.

The blog is coming along quite nicely! Great information here.

Cheers and have a jolly Christmas season!


4:04 AM  
Blogger robin hood said...

Thanks Carol,

As soon as the New series is over I'll have a bit more time to work on the "Robin Hood Was Here" blog, showing the actual places where he and the outlaws lived etc.

There are still two versions of Robin Hood I havn't reviewed: "Wolfshead", the fourth Hammer film about our hero (very influential in its contemporary approach), and the "New Adventures of Robin Hood", the American series from the 1990's. I can't get my hands on a copy of the latter ANYWHERE.

Happy New Year for 2007.

10:59 AM  
Blogger Clement of the Glen said...

One day during filming, Charlie Chaplin visited. He asked if he could improvise a gag. They lowered the drawbridge; he shuffled out, placed a cat outside the moat, then picked up a bottle of milk and shuffled back. Cue drawbridge. Sadly the cameras did not record the scene!!

5:55 PM  
Blogger robin hood said...

Clement, I'm not a great Chaplin fan, but that's a really funny idea. I wish it had been preserved on film.

An interesting aspect of this silent Robin Hood film is Guy of Gisborne's attempt to assassinate King Ricahrd whilst in the Holy Lands. And here's me thinking the BBC had invented that idea!

7:02 PM  
Anonymous Tobias said...

Actually there are more than two versions which you haven't reviewed yet.

Though how many are available in English i don't know.

Right out of my mind i remember a dreadful Robin Hood with Lex Barker (ex-Tarzan)in the lead filmed in italy in the 60s.

another italian version starring Guliano Gemma
This isn't actually that bad, though my memories are admittedly dim (it's been 20 years since i last saw it).

And i remember even a russian version from the mid-70s (running on German ty dubbed)
As dim as my memories are here they are actually quite fond.

As for the "new adventures of Robin Hood series" absolutly dreadful, a cheap Hercules/Xena rip off and those were unwatchable to begin with imho.
I fought through a few episodes since i will watch anything with Robin Hood in the title but make sure you have bucket nearby.

8:26 AM  
Blogger robin hood said...

Thanks Tobias,

The problem, as you say, is availability.

The Lex Barker one would be interesting at least. I always thought he was quite goos as Tarzan.

If anyone out there has copies I'd like to hear from them.

9:33 AM  
Anonymous Tobias said...

I thought of two more versions i know, and both of those should be available in English.

One is "rogues of Sherwood forest" (1950) and remarkable mostly for Alan Hale sr.'s 3rd turn as little John.

The other is the "The Zany adventues of Robin Hood" and 80s attempt at comedy starring George Segal as a unlikely Robin Hood and Morgan Fairchild as an even more unlikely Maid Marian. This movie is so bad it makes even "men in tights look good in comparison and that's a real feat.

The russian version i mentioned earlier is actually available in a German dubbed version on DVD but i couldn't find it in English.

2:07 PM  
Blogger robin hood said...

Hi Tobias,

Rogues of Sherwood Forest (Son of Robin Hood) does indeed sound good. I wonder if Alan Hale is son of little John???

But not available at present I'm afraid.

2:17 PM  
Anonymous Tobias said...

If i remember correctly he's the original little John. but then i thought John Derek played the original Robin too.

I remember a son of Robin hood version but that stars Cornel Wilde (who also played in Son of the musketeers :)).

My problem is that many the B-versions of Robin Hood from the 50s and 60s which i saw only once, in many cases more than 20 years ago, tend to melt into one huge blop in my mind.

It's bit weird which versions you see these days and which not. For some reason German tv seems to run the Barry Ingham (sp?) version every other Sunday, but it must be 10 years since i last saw the Richard Todd version, which used to be show quite regularily.

4:40 PM  

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