The Adventures Of Robin Hood (1938)
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The Adventures of Robin Hood is noted as one of the greatest, most colorful costume dramas, action, and adventure films in film history. It is considered as the “definitive” version of the Robin Hood tale, from fans to commercial industry alike. On the Internet and abroad, people constantly display a great love and admiration for this 1930’s movie. Many other Robin Hood movies have been made since then, but the strong support that this movie continues to have appears unmatched to this day. Some tales exist beyond that of localized culture because they are so tightly woven into a shared heritage. They embody a theme of universal significance. The tale of Robin Hood has long been one of those stories.
The story of Robin Hood continues to testify to the moral and political facts of justified rebellion against a tyrannical government, that it is no crime to be loyal to the true nature of one's country, to defend its people from oppression, and to be loyal to basic human rights and stand for ‘higher’ laws of justice that bind all humans, king and peasant alike.
Miscellaneous things to think about:
1. The theme of taxation and theft. Soldiers confiscate property of peasants, yet is taking unjustly obtained money really ‘theft’?. The redistribution scene in Sherwood Forest of clothes taken from nobles. Robin Hood’s defense of Much for killing the "King's" deer to avoid starvation.
2. The tactics of guerrilla warfare used by Robin's supporters against the better armed and trained soldiers of the sheriff. Tactics include: ambush from trees, selective assassination of state officers known to be murderous, robbing state of tax money, disguise, importance of intelligence gathering, popular support for their actions, feeding the poor, defending the week and helpless.
3. The escalating importance (think WWII) of themes dealing with dilemmas of isolationism, collaboration, resistance, and warnings that tyrants can only be resisted when all people unite in opposition. Addressing under what circumstances should one be loyal to the state, the nature of treason, the legitimacy of rulers, the justice of revolting against a tyranny. A possibility that collaborators with the wrong side may change their allegiance such as Marian who collaborates but changes sides when Robin Hood shows her the true condition of the people under Prince John. The role of religion in collaborating with tyrany (collaborationist bishop vs. rebel friar Tuck).
4. The movie was originally planned with James Cagney playing the title role, but he quit Warner Brothers and production was postponed for three years. Then we got Errol Flynn (good thing too in my opinion).
5. The palomino horse that Olivia de Havilland rides at one point in this film is none other than Trigger, shortly before it became Roy Rogers's mount.
6. Michael Curtiz took over from director William Keighley when the producers felt that the action scenes lacked impact.
7. Heavily padded stunt players and actors were paid $150 per arrow for being shot by professional archer Howard Hill, who also played the captain of the archers, whom Robin Hood defeats in the tournament by splitting his own arrow. Splitting the arrow was Hill's feat, too, done in one take with no trick photography. Such realism behind movies today is often nonexistent due to massive reliance on computer generated SFX.
8. A car can barely be seen in the far background for approx 1 second when Will Scarlett gets off his horse to go to the aid of Much (who has just fought with Dikkens).
9. When Robin throws a bench at the guards, the guards are already falling down the stairs even before they are hit.
10. The considerable influence of the film seems to have had on later movies: the genre of Hollywood swashbuckler movies; Lucas' The Return of the Jedi (1983) - the Ewok's attack against the Stormtroopers.
11. Note the final sword fight between Sir Guy and Robin Hood. It is unusually long and considered one of the greatest sword fights ever filmed. The surrender of the Norman's armed forces - throwing their swords and shields into a pile, accepting disarmament.
12. The important role film (and later TV) has played in the 20thC in keeping the Robin Hood story alive.
About Errol Flynn
Flynn was born in Hobart, Tasmania on June 20th 1909. His father was Theodor-Thomson Flynn, an oceanographer and respected biologist. His mother was Marrelle Young, who has been described as an adventurous young woman and decendent of a midshipman of HMS Bounty fame. Flynn lived in Australia, and England, and he was a rebellious, adventurous youth who was expelled from several schools and held various jobs before turning to acting. With a bad heart and TB he was unfit for service in world war II. As an actor he was cast in everything from light comedies to westerns, though he was remembered best for his romantic adventure films. He acted with Olivia de Havilland in eight films. He was married to actresses Lily Damita from June 1935- April 1942 (divorced) with 1 son Sean, to Nora Eddington from August 1943- July 1948 (divorced) with 2 daughters Deirdre and Rory, and to Patrice Wymore from October 1950 till his death on October 14th 1959 of a heart attack. He had 1 daughter (Arnella) with Patrice Wymore. He is buried at Forest Lawn, Glendale, CA., in the Garden of Everlasting Peace.
Flynn's off screen life was often unfortunately more colorful and less wise than his movies. He has been described as an unabashed hedonist and insatiable womanizer, notorious for nonstop drinking, wenching and high spirited drunken revelry. Wild rumors sometimes surfaced about his private life. SOME of them were not true. It is known now that an inaccurate biography wrongly labeled him a Nazi sympathizer, and at some point unfounded rumors claimed he was other than heterosexual. In 1942, at the height of his popularity, he was charged with (but later acquitted of) statutory rape. The ordeal of the trial and resultant publicity crushed Flynn's spirit. He slid into a gradual but steady decline in the postwar years. The best of his earlier Warner Bros. films saw Flynn in roles that exuded a zest for adventure and derring-do, but few of his later films had the same effect. Flynn's health deteriorated. The years of his hard drinking and lifestyle eroded his youthful looks and showed in his later screen appearances. Several of his final films saw Flynn cast as an alcoholic. Trouble with lawsuits and the IRS followed him. His final years found him aboard his beloved yacht "Zaca," anchored in Port Antonio, Jamaica, an island paradise he said reminded him of his boyhood wanderings in New Guinea.
Note: Indeed I love some of Flynn's movies, though I would not consider myself an avid fan of his movies in general. It just so happens that The Adventures of Robin Hood is one of, if not my favorite movie of all time. Other favorite Flynn films of mine are Objective Burma, and Desperate Journey.
Robin Hood Links
World Wide Robin Hood Society Sherwood
Legendary Links Nice site, large collection of Robin Hood Links
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