The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) Director: Michael Curtiz
The Adventures of Robin Hood is a beautiful technicolor adventure film featuring the great Tazmanian gymnast-turned swashbuckling star, Errol Flynn, who clearly draws inspiration for his character from Douglas Fairbanks. The role was originally supposed to be cast as James Cagney, but he walked out on his contract for the film, opening the door for Flynn.
In the story, King Richard the Lionheart has been captured while away on crusade and his evil brother John has ousted Longshanks and taken over the kingdom. John treats the underclass of Saxons poorly by taxing them to the benefit of the Normans. Thus a band of rebels in Sherwood Forest cause mayhem for him at every step, led by Sir Robin of Locksley, a knight who has remained true to King Richard. He survives every attempt of the King to capture and kill him, including the gallows after he was captured during a ruse (the famous archery tournament). Marian eventually falls in love with him and King Richard returns in disguise just in time for the merry band of soldiers to devise a plan that upsets John’s plan to crown himself King. In the end, Richard is reinstated as King, John and his people are banished, and Robin and Marian run off together.
Olivia de Havilland plays Marian, of Gone with the Wind fame (and also one of the longest surviving actors from Hollywood’s Golden Age -she was born in 1916 and is still living as of this writing. Both she and Flynn also appeared together in Capitan Blood and also The Charge of the Light Brigade (Robin Hood was the fifth of eight films they would made together). Amusingly enough, Alan Hale who played Little John in the film also played the same character in the 1922 Douglas Fairbanks film version, and then again in a reprise in 1950. Sherwood Forest in the film was shot in Bidwell Park in Chico, CA.
The music is glorious, the cinematography and shooting locations around California are grand, and the acting is terrific. I am a sucker for a great swashbuckling adventure film with a clear morality play, and this one has been a favorite since I was a kid. The film encapsulates all the innocence and hope before the explosion of the Second World War.