The Adventures of Robin Hood (film)
|The Adventures of Robin Hood|
|Music by||Erich Wolfgang Korngold|
|Editing by||Ralph Dawson|
|Studio||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Running time||102 minutes|
|Box office||$3.981 million|
The Adventures of Robin Hood is a 1938 American swashbuckler film directed by Michael Curtiz and William Keighley, and starring Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Basil Rathbone, and Claude Rains. Written by Norman Reilly Raine and Seton I. Miller, the film is about a Saxon lord who, in King Richard's absence, fights back as the outlaw leader of a rebel guerrilla army against Prince John and the Norman Lords who are oppressing the Saxon people. The Adventures of Robin Hood was filmed in Technicolor.
When Richard the Lionheart (Ian Hunter), the King of England, is taken captive by Leopold of Austria while returning from the Crusades, his brother John (Claude Rains) takes power and proceeds to oppress the Saxon commoners. Prince John raises their taxes, supposedly to raise Richard's ransom, but in reality to secure his own position on the throne.
One man stands in his way, the Saxon Robin, Earl of Locksley (Errol Flynn). Robin acquires a loyal follower when he saves Much (Herbert Mundin) from being arrested by Sir Guy of Gisbourne (Basil Rathbone) for poaching one of the king's deer. Robin goes alone to see Prince John at Gisbourne's castle and announces to John's assembled supporters and a contemptuous Maid Marian (Olivia DeHavilland) that he will do all in his power to oppose John and restore Richard to his rightful place. He then escapes, in spite of the efforts of John's men.
His lands and title now forfeit, Robin takes refuge in Sherwood Forest with his friend Will Scarlet (Patric Knowles). There they meet Little John (Alan Hale, Sr.), whom Robin recruits after a bruising quarterstaff bout. Other men join their growing band. Later, Robin provokes Friar Tuck (Eugene Pallette) into a swordfight, but then persuades the friar into joining him to provide spiritual guidance to the outlaws. Soon, Prince John and his Norman and Angevin cronies find themselves harassed beyond all bearing with many of their troops receiving instant deadly retribution for their abuses courtesy of the Merry Men's arrows.
One day, Robin and his men capture a large party of Normans transporting taxes through Sherwood. Among Robin's "guests" are Gisbourne, the cowardly Sheriff of Nottingham (Melville Cooper), and Maid Marian. Robin and his men "liberate" the tax money, swearing to a man to contribute it towards King Richard's ransom. At first, Marian is disdainful of Robin and his "band of cut-throats", but becomes convinced of his good intentions and begins to see the reality of things. Eventually Robin lets the humiliated Gisbourne and sheriff go, telling them that they have Marian to thank for their lives.
The Sheriff then comes up with a cunning scheme to capture Robin. He suggests to Prince John that he announce an archery tournament, with the grand prize a golden arrow to be presented by Maid Marian, knowing that Robin will be unable to resist the challenge. All goes as planned; Robin identifies himself by winning the competition and is taken prisoner. Gisbourne sentences him to be hanged. However, Marian warns Robin's men, and they manage to rescue him on his way to the gallows. Later, in the dark of night, Robin sneaks into the castle to thank her. Marian and Robin declare their love for each other.
Meanwhile, King Richard returns to England disguised as a monk, but is recognized at an inn by the Bishop of the Black Canons (Montague Love) after he overhears one of Richard's men call him "sire". The traitorous bishop hurries to inform Prince John. Upon receiving the news, John and Gisbourne plot to dispose of Richard quietly before he can raise an army. Dickon Malbete (Harry Cording), a disgraced former knight, is sent to assassinate him in return for the restoration of his rank and Robin's estate. Marian overhears them and writes a note warning Robin, but Gisbourne finds it and has her arrested and condemned to death for treason. Marian's nurse Bess (Una O'Connor) informs her boyfriend Much, who intercepts and kills Dickon after a desperate struggle.
Richard and his escort travel to Sherwood Forest to find Robin. When Richard is certain of Robin's loyalty, he reveals his identity. Then they learn from Much that John intends to have himself crowned king by the Bishop of the Black Canons in Nottingham the next day.
Knowing that the castle is too strong to take by force, Robin decides to use guile, visiting the bishop and "persuading" him to include Robin and his men, in disguise, in his entourage. Through this ruse, they gain entry to the castle and interrupt John's coronation. A melee breaks out, during which Robin and Gisbourne engage in a prolonged swordfight. Gisbourne is finally slain, and Robin rescues Marian from her cell.
Richard is restored to the throne; he exiles his brother, pardons the outlaws, returns Robin's earldom and 'orders' him to marry Maid Marian. Robin exclaims, "May I obey all your commands with equal pleasure, sire!"
- Errol Flynn as Robin Hood, also known as Sir Robin of Locksley
- Olivia de Havilland as Maid Marian [Fitzwalter]
- Basil Rathbone as Sir Guy of Gisbourne
- Claude Rains as Prince John
- Patric Knowles as Will Scarlett
- Eugene Pallette as Friar Tuck
- Alan Hale Sr. as Little John
- Herbert Mundin as Much
- Melville Cooper as the High Sheriff of Nottingham
- Una O'Connor as Bess
- Ian Hunter as King Richard the Lionheart
- Montagu Love as the Bishop of the Black Canons
- Leonard Willey as Sir Essex, a supporter of Prince John
- Robert Noble as Sir Ralf, a supporter of Prince John
- Kenneth Hunter as Sir Mortimer, a supporter of Prince John
- Robert Warwick as Sir Geoffrey, a supporter of Prince John
- Colin Kenny as Sir Baldwin, a supporter of Prince John
- Lester Matthews as Sir Ivor, a supporter of Prince John
- Harry Cording as Dickon Malbete
- Ivan F. Simpson as the proprietor of the Kent Road Tavern
- Lionel Belmore as Humility Prim, proprietor of the Saracens Head Tavern (uncredited)
- Frank Hagney as a man-at-arms (uncredited)
- Holmes Herbert as the archery referee at the tournament (uncredited)
- Howard Hill as Owen the Welshman, Robin's rival in the archery tournament (uncredited)
- Crauford Kent as Sir Norbett, a supporter of Prince John (uncredited)
- Carole Landis as a guest at the banquet (uncredited)
- Leonard Mudie as the town crier (uncredited)
- Reginald Sheffield as the herald at tournament uncredited
- Trigger as Lady Marian's horse (uncredited)[Note 1]
The Adventures of Robin Hood was filmed on location in various areas of California. Bidwell Park in Chico stood in for Sherwood Forest, although one major scene was filmed at the California locations "Lake Sherwood" and "Sherwood Forest", so named because they were the location sites for the 1922 Douglas Fairbanks production of Robin Hood. Several scenes were shot at the Warner Bros. Burbank Studios and the Warner Ranch in Calabasas. The archery tournament was filmed at Busch Gardens in Pasadena.
It was produced at an estimated cost of $2 million, and was Warner Bros first color film utilizing three-strip Technicolor process. 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, but their adventure movies starring Flynn had generated hefty revenue and Robin Hood was created to capitalize on this.
Padded stunt men and bit players were paid $150 per arrow for being shot by professional archer Howard Hill, who was cast as Owen the Welshman, an archer defeated in the tournament by Robin. To win, Robin splits the arrow of Philip of Arras, a captain of the guard under Gisbourne, who had struck the bullseye. An examination of the film images in slow motion led to speculation[who?] that the arrow split may have been made of bamboo, and have been previously split, the parts being held together with small rings. Buster Wiles - a stuntman and close friend of Errol Flynn - maintains that the arrow splitting stunt was carried out using an extra large arrow (for the target) and that the second arrow had a wide, flat arrowhead and was fired along a wire. Wiles discusses the scene in his autobiography, My Days With Errol Flynn.
The film was well-reviewed and became the second highest-grossing film of the year, with just over $4 million in revenues, at a time when the average ticket price was less than 25 cents. Warner Bros. was so pleased with the results that they cast Flynn in two more color epics before the decade was over: Dodge City and The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex.
A sequel, Robin of Locksley was announced but never developed.
Awards and nominations 
The film won three Academy Awards at the 11th Academy Awards and was nominated for one more:
- Academy Awards (1938):
- Won: Best Art Direction - Color (Carl Jules Weyl)
- Won: Best Film Editing (Ralph Dawson)
- Won: Best Original Score (Erich Wolfgang Korngold) - The love theme of Robin and Marian went on to become a celebrated concert piece.
- Nominated: Best Picture (Hal B. Wallis, Henry Blanke)
- Other honors:
- In 1995, this film was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in their National Film Registry.
- In 2001, the film came in at #84 on "The Best Films of All Time" as voted by channel 4.
- In 2001, the film appeared at #100 on AFI's 100 Years... 100 Thrills list.
- In 2003, the main character, Robin Hood, appeared as the #18 Hero on AFI's 100 Years... 100 Heroes and Villains list.
- In 2005, the film appeared at #11 on AFI's 100 Years of Film Scores list.
Due to the movie's popularity, Errol Flynn's name and image became inextricably linked with that of Robin Hood in the public eye, even more so than Douglas Fairbanks, who had played the role previously in 1922.
Scenes and costumes worn by the characters have been imitated and spoofed endlessly. For instance, in the Bugs Bunny animated short film, Rabbit Hood, Bugs is continually told by a dim-witted Little John that "Robin Hood will soon be here." When Bugs finally meets Robin at the end of the film, he is stunned to find that it is Errol Flynn, in a spliced-in clip from this film (he subsequently shakes his head and declares, "It couldn't be him!"). Other parodies were Daffy Duck and Porky Pig in Robin Hood Daffy and Goofy and Black Pete in Goof Troop's Goofin' Hood & His Melancholy Men.
- Roy Rogers admired the then-named Golden Cloud so much that he bought Trigger to use in his own films. This eventually made Trigger one of the most famous animals in show business.
- Glancy, H. Mark. "Warner Bros film grosses, 1921-51." Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television. March 1995
- The Worldwide Guide to Movie Locations by Tony Reeves. The Titan Publishing Group. Pg.14 
- Ebert, Roger (August 17, 2003). "Roger Ebert's review of "The Adventures of Robin Hood"". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved March 30, 2007. The first, preceding it by a few months, was Gold is Where You Find It, which tested the process as a run-up to The Adventures of Robin Hood.
- Tony Thomas, Rudy Behlmer * Clifford McCarty, The Films of Errol Flynn, Citadel Press, 1969 p 62-67
- "The mobster and the movies". CNN. August 24, 2004. Retrieved July 9, 2008.
- Weitzman, Elizabeth (February 6, 2009). "The Depression-era gems at 1930s prices". NY Daily News (New York). Retrieved October 5, 2010.
- King, Susan (May 12, 2010). "Classic Hollywood: 100 years of Robin Hood movies". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 2, 2010.
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