Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)

Sound the trumpets, The Adventures of Robin Hood (Two-Disc Special Edition) is rousing entertainment.

Backed by a stirring score courtesy of Erich Wolfgang Korngold (Captain Blood), this 1938 adventure film has it all. There's a cast stuffed with Hollywood legends, gorgeous Technicolor photography, plenty of sword fights, good humour and some really evil villains.

It's the 12th century in England. King Richard the Lion-Heart is off fighting a war. His crooked brother, Prince John (Claude Rains), sees a chance to seize power for himself. Helping him is henchman Sir Guy of Gisbourne (Basil Rathbone, looking especially suave). Prince John, a Norman, makes life miserable for the Saxons with high taxes, torture and seizure of property.

Sir Robin of Loxley (Errol Flynn) stands up to Prince John and vows to ensure King Richard returns to the throne. He recruits help including Friar Tuck (Eugene Pallette), a man of the cloth who's also very talented with a sword, and Little John (Alan Hale, who also was Flynn's sidekick in Dodge City).

Now Robin Hood, Sir Robin ambushes Prince John's soldiers and redistributes his riches to Saxons in need. Maid Marian (Olivia de Havilland), a royal ward of King Richard's, is initially cool to Robin Hood's actions and obvious interest in her. She soon warms to his cause, and him. Sir Guy wants her hand too, but isn't is handy with his wooing words as he is offing people who won't go along with Prince John. There's going to be a showdown between these two. Watch for the use of shadows as these two finally square off one-on-one.

There's not a lot of plot to try and follow here. The Adventures of Robin Hood jumps from one thrilling scene to the next, including an archery competition and Robin Hood's planned execution. Audiences may never see another film where so many men jump from trees and tackle their opponents.

Flynn soars as the outlaw who takes from the rich and gives to the poor. Rains and Rathbone ooze evil while Melville Cooper is a wuss as High Sheriff of Nottingham. There's no fight he'd rather avoid.

The Adventures of Robin Hood won three Oscars for art direction, editing and score. This fine film was also nominated for best picture.

Kevin Costner, you're no Errol Flynn. See this film.

RATING: 9/10

FUN FACTS: Claude Rains was King Herod in The Greatest Story Ever Told.

Eugene Pallette made his screen debut in a 1913 short, The Fugitive.

Una O'Connor appears as Maid Marian's lady-in-waiting. Her last role was in Witness for the Prosecution.

The Adventures of Robin Hood was shot in California.


Robert M. Lindsey said...

One of our favorites. And a good one to introduce kids to classics.

James The Movie Reviewer said...

Agreed, this is the best adaptation of the Robin Hood story and one of the most fun films ever made. Great review and blog, I am following.


Reel Popcorn Junkie said...

Good point. They get a nice snapshot of some of the biggest talents from Hollywood's Golden Age.

Reel Popcorn Junkie said...

There are some good laughs in this film, aren't there? Basil Rathbone and Claude Rains are great villains too. Thanks for following my blog.