robin and marian (1976)
Sean Connery as Robin Hood and Audrey Hepburn as Maid Marian have seldom been better cast as the two lovers of legend, their performances filled with pathos and humour. Nicol Williamson lacks the physical stature one normally associates with Little John, but is outstanding in the role of the loyal friend who will pass Robin his final arrow. Both Ronnie Barker as Friar Tuck and Denholm Elliott as Will Scarlett are excellent in their roles, avoiding the caricatures of previous Hollywood versions, whilst Richard Harris' portrayal of King Richard as a mad Crusading tyrant was a "first" in the genre.
Another key factor in the films success is the absence of Guy of Gisburne and the reinstatement of the Sheriff of Nottingham as Robin Hood's true arch enemy. In this role Robert Shaw is the perfect counterpoint to Connery. This Sheriff is a warrior, a man who will not tolerate the interference of King John's Knights in the affairs his Nottingham, and clearly someone who also misses the battles of old. Indeed it is apparent when Robin and the Sheriff meet that they both relish the thought of the fight which must surely follow. One can see that, if not for the respect the Sheriff secretly holds for Robin, the outcome of that fight may have been totally different.
But this is not a children's film. Rated PG, it does not contain all those hearty tales of the golden arrow, the riverside encounters with Little John and Friar Tuck, the ballads 'round the camp fire. The only part of the familiar legend present here is Robin's final arrow, and his request to be buried where it falls. Highly recommended for those Robin Hood fans who wish to see the legend given a darker, more gritty treatment. (See comments box for more cast details).
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