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This film *is* the Robin Hood of the screen: it's merry and
tender and bold, impudent, dashing and brightly clad... and
undoubted legend in its own lifetime! I recently had the chance to
it in the cinema for the first time, with the release of the
print, and wondered if it could possibly hold up to televised
memories. The joyous answer is that indeed it does. It's not only
breathtaking adventure I remembered; it's a fiery and surprisingly
gentle romance that isn't afraid of laughs.
It's unthinkable, once you've seen it, to imagine this film with
other than Errol Flynn. Every subsequent interpreter has had
struggle to reclaim the part from the memory of his roguery and grace
and most modern 'Robin's have been handicapped by an insistence
authentic mediaeval murk and grime. In the 1930s, with Technicolour
latest craze, mud and homespun were the last thing a studio
Flynn's Robin Hood sports the Lincoln green of legend and a forest
brightly coloured as a painted backdrop, and the rich furs and silks
show at Nottingham Castle are straight out of fairy-tale; or
The story itself is purest escapist magic. Greedy barons, a
usurper, a rightful king in exile, and a proud beauty in
and, of course, England's eponymous outlaw hero, robbing the rich
give to the poor with a jest on his lips in true swashbuckler
The script sparkles. And the stunts, in those days before wire-fu
CGI, are all for real and still take the breath away. Flynn was
superb physical condition at the time - co-star Basil Rathbone,
played his proud opponent and would-be suitor to Marian's hand, Guy
Gisbourne, described him simply as 'a perfect male animal' - and
no opportunity to show off his flamboyance.
Unlike today's pretty-boy heroes, however, Flynn shows a
talent for acting with his face alone. The expressive reaction
throughout his boudoir scene with Marian tell a different tale to
quickfire banter of his words, and, like Marian, despite ourselves
are drawn in. Olivia de Havilland, as Marian, is somewhat ill-served
her period costume - she is at her most beautiful in this
without her hair confined in her wimple - but together they duel
way through a classic tempestuous romance of the high-born lady and
outlaw, ultimately risking their lives to save each other. Marian is
anachronistic action heroine, but no-one, not even Robin, can
her from what she thinks is right.
As Guy of Gisbourne, Basil Rathbone is also playing one of the
roles of his career, and gives a superb performance. His Gisbourne
no cardboard villain, but a clever, arrogant man, who matches wits
blades with Robin as a worthy rival, and whose courtship of Marian
not without grace. And his wily master, rufous Plantagenet Prince
(Claude Rains, in a small but well-cast part) is no fool either.
knows precisely what he wants and what he can get away with, wasting
time in bluster or empty threats.
Comedy of a broader nature is provided by the cowardly Sheriff
Nottingham, and by Bess, Marian's maid. But even Bess's
courtship with timid Much (she has buried more husbands than he has
kisses) is not without its tender moments, and perhaps only the
is entirely a cut-out figure of fun.
Few people can whistle 'the theme from Robin Hood'. But the
Korngold score, with its full orchestral depth and rousing fanfares,
as familiar today as it was seventy years ago, when it won its
Award. From the faultless casting through unforgettable pageantry
timeless romance to the final spectacular duel, when Robin
Gisbourne meet "once too often", this picture richly deserves
reputation as *the* Robin Hood on film - from which on present
it is unlikely ever to be dethroned.
Tags for The Adventures of Robin Hood Full Movie
, Claude Rains
, Errol Flynn
, Olivia de Havilland
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