The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) – a swashbuckler movie magic
The Adventures of Robin Hood is a 1938 swashbuckler film directed by Michael Curtiz. The picture has a star cast of Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Basil Rathbone, and Claude Rains. It won three Academy awards at the 11th Academy Awards for Best Art Direction, Best Film Editing and Best Original score.
Here goes a brief synopsis of the story:
King Richard the Lion-Heart, who left England to fight in the Crusades, has been taken captive and is being held for ransom. He has entrusted his kingdom to his brother, Prince John, who, along with Sir Guy of Gisbourne and the Sheriff of Nottingham, is plotting to overthrow the throne. At a banquet in John’s honor, Sir Robin of Locksley disrupts the proceedings and openly accuses John of treachery. Robin eludes John’s knights and hides out in Sherwood Forest, where he gathers a band of men, including Will Scarlett, Little John and Friar Tuck, to protect and provide for the Saxon poor by stealing from the rich. When Gisbourne and the sheriff ride through the forest, accompanied by Richard’s ward, the lovely Maid Marian, Robin, who is now known as Robin Hood, kidnaps the royal group, seizes their tax money for Richard, and opens Marian’s eyes to the reality of Norman oppression. They are released unharmed, but the enraged sheriff proposes an archery tournament to lure Robin out of Sherwood. The sheriff’s trick succeeds, and when Robin accepts his victory prize from Marian, he is caught and sentenced to hang. Marian, now in love with Robin, alerts his men, who save him from the gallows. While Robin secretly visits Marian and confesses his love, Richard rides into Sherwood. He discovers John’s plans to be crowned king and enlists Robin’s help. At the castle, Gisbourne exposes Marian’s allegiance to Robin and imprisons her. The coronation begins on schedule, but Richard’s and Robin’s men appear from under monks’ robes and attack John’s knights. In a spectacular sword fight, Gisbourne is killed by Robin. After Richard is restored to his rightful throne, he banishes John and gives Robin and Marian permission to marry.
Errol Flynn lives the role of Robin Hood so much so that it is impossible to think of anybody else in that role. Errol Flynn’s Robin Hood is a hero that the audience will cheer for. Errol is young, intoxicating and more fun and likeable here than he is in any other movie he has acted in. From the first gate crashing scene to the last thrilling sword fight scene he is confident, swashbuckling and heroic. He can also be mischievous and haughty at times but when it is time for being brave and patriotic, he is there.
Olivia de Havilland glows in this role as an epitome of beauty and charm in love with a bold and reckless outlaw. Basil Rathbone is superb as the arrogant Sir Guy of Gisbourne and Claude Rains as the treacherous prince John does a wonderful job. Mention must also be made about Eugene Palette who comes as the jovial yet formidable Friar Tuck and Alan Hale as rough and ready Little John.
Was there ever a more attractive and idealistic a pair of young lovers on the screen than Errol Flynn and Olivia DeHavilland? The romantic pair was such a hit that they went on to make six more films together as the romantic lead.
Due to the restrictions imposed by the film industry in mid 1930s, Warner Bros decided to make a historical-costume adventure film and they produced The Adventures of Robin Hood in 1938. It was the studio’s most expensive movie since it ran to the expense of $ 2M. But the gamble paid off and movie was a huge hit starting with the first preview audience. It went on to become the second highest grossing film of the year.
The style of this movie: with its mixture of action, humor and romance has influenced films till the present times. Its story of the hero rising to protect the exploited and overthrow villainy is the underlying theme of most modern movies of today.
The fact that so many Robin Hood films have been made since 1938 and not even one of them remotely measures up to The Adventures of Robin Hood just shows how good this film is. Fairy tale romance, Superb casting and acting, unforgettable stunt scenes, and beautiful musical score – what is not there to love about this film?
It’s been 75 years since the movie released and it still remains an unequalled swashbuckler of a movie. It continues to be a true classic which has transcended time and will continue to be enjoyed by generations to come.