One of the first technicolor spectaculars,
"The Adventures of Robin Hood" was an enormous
commercial and critical success. The sets,
costumes and cast were the best that Warner
Brothers could provide. There was only one
problem: in a successful attempt to provide
family entertainment, the characters were
simplified and even became cartoonish.
The cast was excellent. Swashbuckler Errol
Flynn was perfect for the role of Robin Hood.
Dashing, chivalric and energetic, Flynn set
an impossible standard for future actors to
live up to. Claude Rains made a creepy,
scheming Prince John, while Basil Rathbone,
courageous but diabolical, was a fine villain.
Finally, Olivia De Havilland was up to the
role of Maid Marian; young, lovely and able
to switch gracefully between imperious royalty
and willing love interest.
Well, you know the story. Good King Richard
of England (Ian Hunter) is captured during the
Crusades and held for ransom. Prince John
takes over and becomes a brutal tax-hungry
despot. Sir Guy and the cowardly Sheriff
of Nottingham (Melville Cooper) are his henchmen.
Sir Robin of Locksley turns bandit to fight
the oppressors, becoming Robin Hood.
Robin quickly gains colorful sidekicks which
include Little John (Alan Hale) and Friar Tuck
(Popeye-voiced Eugene Pallette). Maid Marian,
initially disdainful of Robin, is soon converted
to his side. Prince John doesn't stand a chance,
but uses treachery in the form of an archery
contest to even the odds.
It's all in good fun, and for the family as well,
since most all of the inevitable violence occurs
off-camera. Still, the characters except for
Robin Hood and Prince John are lacking in depth.
There's adventure, for sure, but little room for
Copyright © 1997 Brian Koller