Monday, February 18, 2013

Family Movie Night: The Adventures of Robin Hood

Title: The Adventures of Robin Hood
Directors: Michael Curtiz and William Keighly
Original Release: 1938
Choice: My Wife's
My Overall Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Image via Words of Note

Quite a number of Robin Hood movies have been made over the years.  I have seen at least four myself.  But the 1938 classic starring Errol Flynn is the standard by which all others are judged.

In England, the legend of Robin Hood goes back hundreds of years, references to be found as early as the 13th century.  However, much of what has come to be accepted as part of his story has been invented relatively recently.  The idea of stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, for instance, did not appear until the 19th century.  Also, Robin Hood was a commoner for most of his history, his portrayal as a displaced nobleman relatively new, as is his portrayal as a royalist devoted to King Richard the Lionheart.

The Adventures of Robin Hood was Warner Brothers' first Technicolor feature.  Despite the big budget required to film, the movie was a box office smash and won three Oscars.  The lead was also probably the defining role of the dazzlingly handsome Flynn's career.  There's eye candy in both dressing rooms for this one, with the beautiful Olivia de Havilland cast as Maid Marion.  In addition to being a satisfying film visually, the movie's score won an Oscar for Erich Wolfgang Korngold and became a popular concert piece in its own right.


  1. I loved the Flynn Robin Hood, but grew up with the '50s tv series starring Richard Green. It was much filmed at Bidwell Park in Chico, California --where I went to school for a year. I enjoyed finding scenes they'd used in production. Robin Hood, as you suggest, morphed a lot. I'm sure he was influential in other characters --spirits of humanity and justice-- like The Scarlet Pimpernel and Zorro. Great post. Great movie!

    1. I've never seen the TV series. My own primary television association with the character is the Bugs Bunny cartoon, which includes a clip of Flynn from the movie.

      I think you're absolutely right about Robin Hood's influence on other characters. One TV series we really enjoyed was "Leverage" with Timothy Hutton. The premise is a band of reformed criminals who do good for the little guy. I think of it as a cross between Robin Hood and the Avengers (or Justice League if one prefers). They just wrapped up their final (5th?) season on TNT last month.

  2. The TV programme was a great favourite of mine too. It was on BBC TV so if you're not in the UK you probably wouldn't have seen it. Programmes were so innocent in those days but we all knew that Robin Hood never actually existed even though I often visited Sherwood Forest as a child and searched for the places where he would have hidden.
    Rosalind Adam is Writing in the Rain

    1. I love it when folks send me scrambling over to Wikipedia so I can get my facts straight!

      While there have been many television adaptations, I'm assuming the one you're both referring to is the British production which ran from 1955-59 on both British (ITV) and American (CBS) television. Alas, the '50s were well before my time. I haven't seen it in syndication.

      The producer was Hannah Weinstein. The name caught my eye as one doesn't normally think of women being involved in power positions in TV in that era - apart from Lucille Ball, of course. Ms. Weinstein's story's an interesting one, too - an American ex-pat who moved to the UK to escape the evils of McCarthyism.