Ah, now this is classic Robin Hood. It’s not gritty action and realistic CGI arrows whizzing by, nor is it overtly cute and turned our heroes into singing cartoon animals. The Adventures of Robin Hood is probably the best story told on film featuring the legendary outlaw of Sherwood Forrest. The thrill of adventure, romance and action are in perfect harmony here, while still keeping the legend in tact.
The film tells the classic story of Robin Hood. While King Richard the Lionhearted (Ian Hunter) is off fighting in wars and becomes captured in Vienna, Prince John (Claude Rains) takes advantage of his absence and taxes the Saxons to no end, claiming it will pay for Richard’s release. When Saxon Lord, Sir Robin of Locksley (Errol Flynn) learns of Prince John’s plan to seize the throne he begins a rebellion against Prince John and his Norman supporters who prey on the Saxons. Robin gathers and protects all who support King Richard and along the way meet timeless characters like Friar Tuck (Eugene Pallette), Little John (Alan Hale), and Lady Marian (Olivia de Havilland) who becomes lover and a great help from the inside to Robin.
There is, of course, the classic archery tournament, set up as a trap by Prince John. It’s one of the most iconic scenes in any Robin Hood story. It’s here the the award for art direction was won. From Marion’s elegant dress to Robin’s thrifty disguise the costumes in this scene are very detailed and beautiful. All around are brightly colored banners and tents that make me really appreciate the early film in color. And somehow, there is that unbelievable shot where Robin splits an arrow down the middle. I don’t think there was a special effects award yet, but that shot would have wont it.
I believe this film has some of the biggest and best action scenes you will find in the 1930’s. Director Michael Curtiz, who took over for William Keighley at times, became the man behind the great action sequences. It’s amazing to watch whole castle halls suddenly turn into epic sword fights with hundreds of extras clanging metal. There’s even a wonderfully ingenious shot where a sword fight goes off camera, but the shadows are projected onto a wall until they come back into the frame. And it’s not all swords and arrows, there’s a horse chase and a moment where Robin releases a gate, rides the pulled rope up and scales the wall to slow his enemies down. It’s a wonderfully simple mechanic idea that we’ve seen in countless films, but here it just seems grander without any CGI.
If you want to see any Robin Hood film, I strongly suggest The Adventures of Robin Hood over all the others out there. You won’t find a better mix of fun, action and romance in any others. And you certainly won’t find a more charismatic Robin than Errol Flynn.
“Where’s your sense of adventure?”
Color never seemed as…”colorful” as in this movie. It is almost like color film was developed specifically with The Adventures of Robin Hood in mind.
I wish I could see this movie in a theater. Even though I love it on TV it seems too grand for the small screen.
You’re pretty close: TAoRH was in fact Warner’s first film shot in three-strip Technicolor. The art design was based on the book illustrations of Howard Pyle, NC Wyeth, and Louis Rhead. Director Michael Curtiz (who had one of the most astonishing visual geniuses in film history) wanted to make the most of both the new color technique *and* the design grammar of these outstanding artists. The result was like nothing before or since. It really is my favorite film, just edging out /Das Boot/ and /The Man Without A Past/.
This is a great movie. And I have to agree with Kevin’s colour comment above.
You’re right, the action scenes are great. They keep our intereste today even though they wree made over 70 years ago. But apart from the action, everything else is top notch as well, especially the writing. There’s some great dialogue here, which is wonderfully delivered by the actors.
The scene where Robin walks into the castle with the deer and joins the feast is the moment this movie won me over completely.
I don’t remember the details, but as I recall, the Technicolor people had a particular woman in the 30s who went to the color-movie sets when they were being shot and supervised (and approved) the use of color in the props, costumes, backgrounds, etc.
With regard to that deer (again, as I recall): Robin shoots a stag and then details an old guy to bring it along (somehow); then later, Robin strolls into the hall with it over his shoulder, which made me smile. I suppose that the animal had been dressed out by then, and it has mysteriously shrunk to the size of a youngster, but even then, if you’ve ever tried to throw a deer carcass over your shoulder, it’s no mean feat. And that’s not counting the ticks and fleas that are beginning to abandon ship by then.
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Actually “Robin Hooding” an arrow with another is not uncommon; archers do it all the time and generally hate it: it costs them TWO expensive bits of ordinance. Of course, it’s generally by accident. ;D
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