The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
July 25, 2022 10:24 AM - Subscribe

When King Richard the Lionheart is captured, his scheming brother Prince John (Claude Rains) plots to reach the throne, to the outrage of Sir Robin of Locksley (Errol Flynn), the bandit king of Sherwood Forest. Rounding up his band of men and eventually winning the support of the lovely Maid Marian (Olivia de Havilland), Robin accuses Prince John of treachery and, when the escaped Richard returns covertly to England, joins forces with the king to prevent Prince John from taking the crown.

Some bits from Wikipedia...

The Adventures of Robin Hood was produced at an estimated cost of $2 million, the most expensive film Warner Bros. had made up to that time. It was also the studio's first film utilizing the three-strip Technicolor process. The film was in fact planned to be shot in black and white for most of its development; the switch to Technicolor happened just three months before production started. It was an unusually extravagant production for the Warner Bros. studio, which had made a name for itself in producing socially-conscious, low-budget gangster films.

Producer Hal B. Wallis is generally seen as the film's creative helmsman. The first draft of the script was written by Rowland Lee, but Wallis objected to its heavily archaic and fanciful dialogue (one line he cited was "Oh my lord, tarry not too long, for I fear that in her remorse she may fling herself from the window. Some harm may befall her, I know."). At Wallis's insistence, the script was heavily rewritten to modernize the dialogue, and it is unclear whether any of Lee's work survives in the completed film.

James Cagney was originally cast as Robin Hood, but walked out on his Warner Bros. contract, paving the way for the role to go to Errol Flynn.

Scenes which were filmed but not included in the final cut include the disguised King Richard brawling with Friar Tuck, and Robin riding off with Maid Marian; the latter would have been the concluding scene of the film, and appears in the theatrical trailer despite not appearing in the film itself.

Directed by Hungarian born filmmaker Michael Curtiz (Casablanca).

Rated 100% fresh (with 48 reviews) on Rotten Tomatoes.

Currently available for digital rental via multiple outlets.
posted by DirtyOldTown (10 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Maid Marian: You speak treason!
Robin Hood: Yes! Fluently.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:42 AM on July 25, 2022 [5 favorites]

This film is loaded with great lines like the one above, and everyone is terrific in it.

I'd also like to recognize Basil Rathbone, a fencing master, as making Flynn look good in their duels. This film even helped name a trope! (Obligatory productivity warning: TVTropes link.)
posted by Gelatin at 11:14 AM on July 25, 2022 [3 favorites]

As much as I can no longer be a fan of Flynn (for obvious reasons), this movie has been part of my life for as long as I can remember. I guess I was first exposed via the Bugs Bunny cartoon, but maybe not. Maybe I first saw the movie around the same time as I was watching cartoons. I honestly can't remember.

No matter how many times I've seen this (or parts of it), it never fails to grab my attention if I come across it while flipping channels. Every time I see it, I find myself appreciating something different in. I think the last time I was paying special attention to the trick arrow shot that were captured on film, the time before that it was the set decoration of the feast season (where Robin drops the stag). I think the time before that, I was paying special attention to the lush score.

It's one of those movies that can appeal to little kids (who can handle cartoon-levels of violence), seniors and everything in between. The quality of the actors and the dialogue and the action (as mentioned the sword fighting)...just everything about the film is fabulous, even taking into account the limitations of the era's film-making techniques.

It's just glorious! And it definitely kicked off my appreciation for swashbucklers.
posted by sardonyx at 11:46 AM on July 25, 2022 [5 favorites]

My grandparents had this on laser disk (pre-VHS!) and it was in heavy rotation throughout my childhood. The central cast is so good (Olivia de Havilland! Basil Rathbone! Claude Rains!) and it still holds up brilliantly on re-watch.
posted by merriment at 12:15 PM on July 25, 2022 [1 favorite]

This movie is musically important, too, Erich Korngold was the first composer to win an Oscar for best score in 1938 (it previously went to the studio head, not the composer) and helped pioneer creating music for film. Interestingly, click tracking hadn't been invented/implemented yet--was just being innovated in the late 30s--so Korngold just through-composed the entire score to a final cut of the movie. What a beast.

We have Korngold to thank for deploying what came to be the essentials of movie music, including use of Wagnerian leitmotif and etc. Check out the main title to King's Row (1942) if you want to immediately hear his influence. Korngold was kind of supposed to be the next great Viennese symphonist, carrying on the tradition from Haydn->Mozart->Beethoven->Brahms->Mahler...but Nazis happened, and the Korngolds had to flee Germany and Austria in the 1930s, and that specifically catalyzed transmission of European symphonic compositional traditions into American movies (and other media). Driven into Paradise: The Musical Migration from Nazi Germany to the United States has lots of these kinds of stories.
posted by LooseFilter at 12:23 PM on July 25, 2022 [6 favorites]

The filmmakers were doubtless aware of what was going on in Europe at the time and responded with themes in the movie. Robin makes clear that he objects to Prince John not as a Saxon opposing a Norman, but as a loyal Englishman opposing the usurper of the throne. He insists that he has no quarrel with Normans in general, going so far as to fall in love with one (Marian, who in turn is shocked by the Norman treatment of the Saxon peasants, who Robin helps by redistributing the nobles' wealth), and that their identity as Englishmen and -women was more important.
posted by Gelatin at 12:31 PM on July 25, 2022 [2 favorites]

Original Theatrical Trailer

Outtakes (without sound)
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:53 PM on July 25, 2022

posted by Thorzdad at 1:50 PM on July 25, 2022 [1 favorite]

I'm trying to remember the name of the person who took their Flynn Robin Hood costume so far as to have spent most of the night carrying around a velour-and-pillow-stuffing deer on their shoulders.
posted by bartleby at 7:41 PM on July 25, 2022

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