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The Adventures of Robin Hood(1938)

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teaser The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)

SYNOPSIS

A young Saxon nobleman is forced to become an outlaw when the evil Norman Prince John usurps the throne from King Richard the Lionhearted, to whom Robin has sworn his allegiance. Pulling together a resistance movement from those who have suffered at the hands of the Prince and his henchmen, Sir Guy of Gisbourne and the Sheriff of Nottingham, Robin Hood robs from the wealthy oppressors to provide for his downtrodden fellow Saxons, woos the Norman beauty Maid Marian, and prevents John's ascendance to the throne, making way for the triumphant return of the rightful king.

Directors: Michael Curtiz, William Keighley
Producer: Hal B. Wallis
Screenplay: Norman Reilly Raine, Seton I. Miller
Cinematography: Tony Gaudio, Sol Polito
Editing: Ralph Dawson
Art Direction: Carl Jules Weyl
Original Music: Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Cast: Errol Flynn (Robin Hood), Olivia de Havilland (Maid Marian), Basil Rathbone (Sir Guy of Gisbourne), Claude Rains (Prince John), Alan Hale (Little John), Patric Knowles (Will Scarlett), Eugene Pallette (Friar Tuck).
C-102m. Close captioning. Descriptive video.

Why THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD is Essential

One of the most popular adventure films of all time, The Adventures of Robin Hood not only remains a cherished memory for many audiences but a major influence for other filmmakers. One has only to look at the original three entries of the Star Wars series to see its continuing impact: the freedom-fighting outlaws pitted against a powerful and corrupt monarchy, the daredevil antics, a dash of wry sarcasm and tongue-in-cheek humor, and the antagonism-turned-to-love relationship at its heart. These were all part of the phenomenally successful Warner Brothers formula for what turned out to be the studio's most expensive picture at that time and one of its biggest hits, a blockbuster before the word was even in common use.

In the early 1930s, Warners was the contemporary urban studio,maker of fast-paced crime dramas, street smart New York musicals and hard-edged social-problem dramas that reflected the darkest moods of the Depression. Big, colorful costume epics and productions wrapped in literary and historical prestige were made elsewhere, but executives at Warners decided they could master that genre as well. They found their inspiration in a devilishly handsome young Tasmanian with a roguish air and an athletic knack for leaping over parapets and besting evil aristocrats at swordplay. Together, Errol Flynn and Warner Brothers, with considerable help from director Michael Curtiz, brought back the swashbuckler, a staple of the silent era that had fallen out of favor. The Adventures of Robin Hood wasn't the first of these, but it certainly took Flynn's image to its greatest heights, thanks to a winning blend of action, romance, comedy and historical detail.

Curtiz took over direction of the picture from William Keighley, whose work the studio found inadequate to the needs of such a rousing tale. As producer Hal Wallis (who deserves much of the credit for the final shape and sensibility ofThe Adventures of Robin Hood) noted about Curtiz, he loved to "work with mobs and props of this kind," and that love is evident, no more so than in the exciting and atmospheric final duel between Robin and Sir Guy. Not only is it a brilliantly choreographed action sequence but one whose theatricalism is heightened by Curtiz's masterful use of set, props and dramatic lighting.

The Adventures of Robin Hood is the hallmark of what a major studio could do during Hollywood's Golden Age: glorious Technicolor, sumptuous sets and costumes, a well-structured literate script, exciting action, a rousing award-winning score, and impeccable casting. It is the perfect conjunction of a star at the apex of his image and appeal and a master producer with an eye for the tiniest detail, a sense for what the public most enjoyed, and the ability to draw the system's top artists, technicians and craftsmen into a crack working unit to produce what is still considered one of the best films of its type.

by Rob Nixon

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teaser The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)

At the time of the film's release, Warner Brothers printed special materials for schools for beginning studies on the Middle Ages featuring Robin and Sherwood Forest. Other educational tie-ins soon popped up across the country. The May 1938 issue of Boy's Life magazine featured Robin Hood and initiated a national archery contest. That same month, Scholastic Magazine (widely distributed to schools throughout America) featured the movie on its cover; it was the first time it had featured a movie on its cover with an article and 15-minute radio script inside. The New York Public Library set up a display featuring a reading list of books related to the legends.

Another educational tie-in, called Photoplay Studies, featuring detailed commentaries on specific films with accompanying study materials and test/essay questions, was underwritten by the National Council of Teachers of English. The series featured not only The Adventures of Robin Hood but two other Flynn movies, The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936) and The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939).

Various products, whether initiated by Warner Brothers or not, solidified the identification of Flynn and the movie with the Robin Hood legends forever. Grosset and Dunlap publishers issued a paperback of the story with the actor on the cover, and it was reviewed in the legitimate literary press. A character called The Black Pirate, featured in Action Comics shortly after the picture's release, bore a marked resemblance to Flynn (though it was based on his appearance in Captain Blood, 1935). The prestigious (by comic book standards) Classics Illustrated featured Robin Hood as the seventh title in its series; the overall concept, story, and artwork were clearly indebted to the Flynn version.

Games, toys, and puzzles soon appeared with Robin Hood motifs, and one company manufactured a cardboard replica of the castle seen in the film.

The style of Robin Hood, its mixture of action, humor, and romance, has influenced adventure films up to the present day. Additionally, its story of heroes arising to protect the oppressed and overthrow evil rulers has been a particularly potent theme in such modern action pictures as the Star Wars series.

The Robin Hood legend has received countless film treatments on both the big and the small screens, from the earliest days of silents to Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991), an ill-conceived version starring Kevin Costner. The most famous, after the Flynn version, is Douglas Fairbanks, Sr.'s athletic take on the tale in 1922; it was the most successful movie of that star's highly successful career. A 1952 British release featured Richard Todd as Robin and future Oscar-winner Peter Finch as the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Richard Greene played Robin Hood in a popular British-made TV series (which was aired in the U.S.) from 1955 to 1960. A number of well-known British actors played on the show at various times, including Leo McKern, Jill Esmond (as Eleanor of Aquitaine, King Richard's mother), Peter Asher (future record producer and half of the 60s pop group Peter and Gordon), Donald Pleasence, and the actor who played King Richard in the Flynn version, Ian Hunter, as "Sir Richard." John Schlesinger, who later directed such films as Midnight Cowboy (1969) and The Falcon and the Snowman (1985), played Alan-a-Dale in two episodes, several years before making his directorial debut. The series also spawned a feature film, Sword of Sherwood Forest (1960).

The Robin Hood story has also been animated for both film and television a number of times, most notably the 1973 Disney version in which the characters appear as animals, with Robin Hood (voiced by Brian Bedford) as a fox. The film featured the voice talents of Peter Ustinov, Andy Devine and singer-songwriter Roger ("King of the Road") Miller. Other well-known cartoon characters, such as Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, have played their versions of the story. The Bugs Bunny version, made in the year of the film's popular 1948 re-release, incorporates footage of Errol Flynn from the original movie. In the animated film The Brave Little Toaster (1987), The Radio starts swashbuckling with his antenna, dueling with The Lamp using dialogue referencing King Richard, Marian, the Normans and the Saxons; it sounds very much like Flynn's repartee with Basil Rathbone in the climactic sword fight in The Adventures of Robin Hood.

Major liberties have been taken through the years to adapt the Robin Hood tales to fit any genre from stories about the legendary hero's son (played by Cornel Wilde in 1946) to sci-fi adventures (a German TV series in which Robin Hood's descendant often travels back in time to fight her ancestor's enemies) to the inevitable softcore adult market.

The Robin Hood story was given the Mel Brooks comic treatment in the spoof Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993) with Cary Elwes as Robin and Patrick Stewart as King Richard.

The British comedy troupe Monty Python's Flying Circus spoofed the story in its sketch about "Dennis Moore," a highwayman and fighter for justice who gets so caught up in the thorny issue of redistribution of wealth that he ends up stealing from the poor and giving to the rich.

An episode of the TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation contrived to have Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) turned into Robin Hood to fight the evil Sir Guy of Gisbourne (veteran British stage and screen actor Clive Revill, who also played in the Mel Brooks spoof).

One of the most acclaimed and original treatments of the legend is Richard Lester's elegiac Robin and Marian (1976), which picks up the story many years later. Sean Connery played the aging Robin Hood with Audrey Hepburn as his long-lost love Marian, Robert Shaw as the evil Sheriff of Nottingham, Richard Harris as a rather loony King Richard and Nicol Williamson as Little John.

A half century after his death, Errol Flynn continues to be the model of the dashing, roguish swashbuckler hero. His notorious love life even brought his name into everyday language in the expression "in like Flynn." The phrase was slightly altered for the title of the James Coburn spy spoof In Like Flint (1967).

by Rob Nixon

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teaser The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)

In the early 1930s, Warner Brothers was primarily the contemporary urban studio, known for the gritty, staccato style of its crime thrillers, socially conscious dramas and lavish Busby Berkeley musicals with its casts of working class chorines. But the studio also longed to enter the big-budget prestige picture field, and one of the first efforts toward that was its production of A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935), with many Warners contract actors bringing their modern-day styles and personas to Shakespeare's characters. Costume designer and period adviser Dwight Franklin thought the same formula would translate well to another period piece, one that had been a huge success a decade earlier for Douglas Fairbanks - the story of the legendary bandit hero of Sherwood Forest. Studio executives liked Franklin's idea of casting Warners star James Cagney as Robin Hood and the studio's stock company as his Merry Men and Norman enemies.

While contemplating the idea of a James Cagney Robin Hood, Warners discovered they owned the rights to an 1890 operetta version of the story. That proved to be an attractive property for MGM, who thought it would make a fine addition to the repertoire of projects they were planning for their newly popular musical team, Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy. They struck a deal with Warners to get the operetta (which was never filmed) in exchange for some non-musical scripts developed at Metro by Edward Small.

There were many other sources from which to draw. The first literary mention of Robin Hood dates to the allegorical poem of the late 1300s, Piers Plowman, although variations on the name appear as early as the 13th century in several judges' rolls. In fact, the name Robin Hood has become a generic term for a fugitive, one who often dwells with a band of thieves in a forest.

Over the centuries, Robin Hood legends, stories, and ballads evolved to suit the changing political and social conditions of various eras. As a result, the hero eventually became a freedom fighter of noble birth, acquiring his band of Merry Men, his romantic attachment to Maid Marian, and his loyalty to the absent King Richard the Lionhearted along the way. The Warners scenario also borrowed from references to the character in Sir Walter Scott's 1819 novel Ivanhoe, and was doubtless influenced by earlier film versions, particularly the phenomenally successful 1922 release starring Douglas Fairbanks.

British writer Rowland Leigh was brought on board to write the screenplay from Small's material and other sources. Going back to the original Robin Hood ballads, Leigh tried to capture the period through a rather flowery, archaic language. Hal B. Wallis, Warners head of production, didn't like the script so using Rowland's work as the structural basis, he assigned the script to Norman Reilly Raine. Shortly after, Seton I. Miller was added to the team. Miller had penned a few Cagney pictures, as well as contemporary dramas for such Warners stars as Edward G. Robinson, Paul Muni and Bette Davis.

In the midst of development, Cagney had one of his frequent and bitter disputes with the studio and walked out on his contract for almost two years. With so much money and time already invested in the project, the studio couldn't afford to put it on hold for its volatile star and began considering a replacement.

In the meantime, contractee Errol Flynn had been given his first big break as the star of a period action epic, Captain Blood (1935), and proved to be not only very appealing to audiences but exactly the dashing, athletic, devilish figure needed for the part of Robin Hood as the Warners team envisioned it. In 1936, Wallis issued a memo to Jack Warner recommending the project as a good follow-up for Flynn after completion of The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936) and suggesting they publicize the casting to "let Cagney know he is losing these properties by his attitude."

With Flynn set for the lead, it was a natural next step to cast Olivia de Havilland as Maid Marian. The two had displayed an undeniable on-screen chemistry in Captain Blood and The Charge of the Light Brigade.

Robin's Merry Men were drawn mostly from the ranks of sought-after character actors. Alan Hale, who had played Little John in Douglas Fairbanks' 1922 version, was cast in the role again. Guy Kibbee was originally slated for the part of Friar Tuck, but it eventually went to Eugene Pallette. The role of Will Scarlett was originally intended for David Niven, but he was unavailable, so the part went to Patric Knowles, who had appeared with Flynn in The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936).

Robin Hood's nemeses came from distinguished ranks. Basil Rathbone, an acclaimed actor for more than 15 years (he had also appeared in Captain Blood) was cast as Sir Guy. Claude Rains, who would soon be seen with Flynn in The Prince and the Pauper (1937), was chosen for the wryly amused, aloof and effete air he could bring to the villainous Prince John. In earlier stories (and future film and television versions), Robin's chief adversary was the Sheriff of Nottingham, the rivalry with Sir Guy being largely an invention of the 1890 operetta. Here, the Sheriff was depicted with more humorous buffoonery, perfect for first-rank character actor Melville Cooper, who specialized in both menacing heavies and comic roles.

As the project started coming together, the studio decided to go for broke and shoot the picture in "glorious Technicolor," which increased the budget considerably, thanks to the patented process's need for special cameras and lighting. But Wallis and company considered the expense worth it, and the decision heralded a new, more ambitious style for the studio.

William Keighley was initially assigned to the project because he had made Warners' first excursion into three-strip Technicolor, God's Country and the Woman (1937). He had also directed Flynn in The Prince and the Pauper and the two got along well. Keighley was very enthusiastic about the assignment.

by Rob Nixon

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teaser The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)

In addition to a top-notch cast, Warner Brothers put together an A-list production team that included art director Carl Jules Weyl, whose architecture background ideally suited his designs for the Norman castles. Weyl's sets incorporated a degree of historical accuracy while favoring the cinematic needs for a stylized and romanticized setting.

Milo Anderson, who had designed costumes for three previous Flynn period films as well as 1935's A Midsummer Night's Dream (for which he was uncredited), was assigned to create the clothing for the picture, making a slight nod to historical veracity while providing the kind of glamour that would appeal easily to 1930s audiences; that same strategy was used to guide the art direction and set design. Anderson especially liked working with Olivia de Havilland because she did research on her costumes and her look and came in with many ideas.

Errol Flynn also had some of his own design ideas, notably complaints about the fringed wig designed for his character. After a convincing note from Flynn to Hal Wallis back at the studio, the wig was redesigned according to the actor's needs and suggestions. Reshooting was unnecessary since up to that point, the offending hairpiece had only been photographed under a hat.

Swordmaster Fred Cavens, who staged the duels in Captain Blood (1935), was assigned to make the fight scenes exciting. Cavens believed the duels should be magnified and exaggerated for effect; his approach was to create a routine that was choreographed like a dance, with counts and phrases. Rathbone was already an impressive fencer, so Flynn trained with Cavens, though many sources say Flynn was less than dedicated to the task and relied more on his innate athletic ability. In this area, liberties were also taken with history. Although broadswords that would have been typical for the era were used (but designed as lighter and more manageable replicas), the fight scenes incorporated fencing techniques that would not be developed until decades later. Medieval swordplay involved a lot more hacking than finessed lunges and parries.

One of the first steps in production was to send the cast, crew and some extremely expensive Technicolor cameras north to Chico, California, in late 1937 to do location work for what were to be the Sherwood Forest scenes. Production Manager T.C. Wright questioned the decision. Since it was already early autumn and the Northern California rainy season would be starting soon, Wright didn't see why the work couldn't be done close to home in the Lake Sherwood area, which got its name after being used as the location for the Fairbanks silent version. But the studio decided to stick by the decision, and the shoot did, indeed, encounter considerable bad weather, stretching the location time to six weeks. Adding to the expense was the need to bring in prop rocks and tree trunks to augment the natural environment. Because much of the foliage was already turning fall colors, it had to be spray-painted green.

Director William Keighley immediately ran afoul of Wallis and production executives, as well as the writers, with his insistence on starting the film with a splashy jousting tournament. Opponents of the idea felt that it would set the picture seriously off balance by placing the biggest scene at the beginning. Besides, the story could hold up quite well on its own without it. Wright suggested to Wallis that they let Keighley go off to Chico thinking the tournament scene would be used, then reject it toward the end of production.

Wallis and Wright also became seriously concerned with delays on location. And they were not pleased with footage that was coming out of Chico, since the action scenes lacked the panache and excitement they felt were needed. Shortly after, the project was turned over to Michael Curtiz, one of the studio's top directors and an experienced hand at action films, having already directed Captain Blood and The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936), with Flynn in the lead. Wallis, however, did warn Associate Producer Henry Blanke to keep an eye on Curtiz because "in his enthusiasm to make great shots and composition and utilize the great production values in this picture, he is more likely to go overboard than anyone else, because he just naturally loves to work with mobs and props of this kind."

Curtiz shot the film's remaining scenes and embellished many of the exterior sequences Keighley had completed. However, he did not return to Chico for these; the work was done instead at Lake Sherwood, Wright's original idea. Curtiz and Keighley shared the on-screen directing credit.

The archery tournament was shot at the now gone Busch Gardens in Pasadena, which was later used for the Wilkes plantation exteriors in Gone with the Wind (1939) and in many other films.

Flynn enjoyed working with the sophisticated and easy-going Keighley but despised the temperamental and demanding Curtiz. Problems between the two were reportedly exacerbated by Flynn's casual approach to production schedules and scene preparation, as well as his reputed bad memory for dialogue.

Flynn claimed to have done all of his own stunts, but that seems unlikely considering the dangerous nature of some of them. No studio would allow a major star to put himself in such jeopardy. However, he apparently did cause some consternation with his insistence on performing many of the stunts himself.

More stunt men were used on The Adventures of Robin Hood than any other up to this time. A stuntman got paid extra for taking an arrow. A steel plate was inserted under the costumes to prevent penetration (although impact was still often painful). On top of the steel plate was a layer of balsa wood that caught and held the arrow tip. All the "fatal" shots were delivered by world champion archer Howard Hill, who had a deserved reputation for never missing. Hill also appeared in the film as Owen the Welshman, a contestant in the archery contest. It was Hill who made Robin Hood's shot that splits one arrow with another, reportedly done in one take.

Hill used a special bow and a thicker arrow to make the distinctive sound of the flying arrows that was recorded from various perspectives and added to the soundtrack.

Rathbone suffered an injury during the scene of Robin's escape from the castle. He was knocked down by a mob of extras and received a spear wound in his right foot that required eight stitches.

The production phase of The Adventures of Robin Hood ran a month behind schedule and went over budget. The total cost eventually ballooned to more than $2 million, Warner Brothers most expensive motion picture made at that time.

With principle photography completed, Wallis made extensive and detailed cutting notes, with particular attention paid to sound. One element of that aspect was the film's score. The original idea of using contract composer Max Steiner was thrown out in favor of hiring Erich Wolfgang Korngold, an Austrian-born former child prodigy who had become a critically acclaimed composer of operas and orchestral music.

Korngold had composed scores for other films (including Flynn's 1937 release, The Prince and the Pauper) and was excited about the prospects of working on The Adventures of Robin Hood; he had even worked out possible themes and passages in his head as he made the crossing from Austria to Hollywood. But when he saw the completed film, he got cold feet, pleading with Wallis to release him from his contract on the grounds that "I am a musician of the heart, of passions and psychology; I am not a musical illustrator for a 90% action picture." History, however, intervened in the form of Hitler's invasion of Vienna. With his home and assets seized and his son and other family members in need of rescue from Austria, Korngold went forward with the job, later saying "My life was saved by Robin Hood."

Korngold not only rose to the occasion of writing a rousing score for The Adventures of Robin Hood, he also managed to work in his music of passion and psychology, notably in the sequence in which Robin and Marian talk of war and politics with a romantic score behind them, signaling their growing love while scarcely a word of it is spoken. One of his most brilliant touches was to write motifs in the same key as the actors' speaking voices.

by Rob Nixon

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teaser The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)

AWARDS & HONORS

The Adventures of Robin Hood won three Academy Awards: Best Art Direction (Carl Jules Weyl), Editing (Ralph Dawson) and Original Score (for the initially reluctant composer Erich Wolfgang Korngold). It was also nominated for Best Picture.

In 1995, The Adventures of Robin Hood was chosen to be preserved in the Library of Congress National Film Registry.

THE CRITICS CORNER

The Adventures of Robin Hood was previewed at three theaters and was an unqualified smash each time. Amazingly, no changes were ordered before putting it into general release. It premiered at New York's Radio City Music Hall.

"A richly produced, bravely bedecked, romantic and colorful show, it leaps boldly to the forefront of this year's best and can be calculated to rejoice the eights, rejuvenate the eighties and delight those in between." Frank S. Nugent, New York Times, May 13, 1938.

"Film is done in the grand manner of silent day spectacles... Superlative on the production side. ... Film has size, an appeal for eye and ear, and a story familiar in every land. It should register substantially at theaters." Variety, April 27, 1938.

"One of the most popular of all adventure films-stirring for children and intensely nostalgic for adults. ... The archetypal roles that the actors played here clung to their later performances. ... The story is clear, the color ravishing, the acting simple and crude." Pauline Kael, 5001 Nights at the Movies (Henry Holt and Company, 1984).

The Adventures of Robin Hood...has become something more than an accomplished film from the thirties. For many, the influence of this film is immense. There is, for example, a great deal of similarity between the action of Robin's men in the forest capturing a gold shipment and the attack of the Ewoks against the Stormtroopers in Return of the Jedi (1983). Not only does it remain one of the quintessential films of the swashbuckling genre but it is also the definitive Robin Hood legend for scores of film-goers and television viewers." - Ray Narducy, The International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers.

"A splendid adventure story, rousingly operatic in treatment, with dashing action highlights, fine comedy balance, and incisive acting all round. Historically notable for its use of early three-colour Technicolor; also for convincingly recreating Britain in California." - Halliwell's Film & Video Guide.

"That the movie stands up to such regular inspection is not just because of rippling action, the stained-glass Technicolor, or the fabulous Korngold score. It is because of Errol Flynn....Flynn does not deal in depth, but he has a freshness, a galvanizing energy, a cheerful gaiety (in the old sense) made to inspire boys." - David Thomson, The New Biographical Dictionary of Film.

"Magnificent, unsurpassable....the film is lavish, brilliantly photographed, and has a great Korngold score." - NFT, 1974.

"Mostly the picture is full of movement, some of it dashing in fine romantic costume style, some of it just sprightly. The excitement comes from the action - galloping steeds, men swinging Tarzan-like from the trees, hurling tables and chairs, rapid running swordplay, the sudden whiz of Robin's arrows coming from nowhere to startle his enemies...Somehow the whole thing has the air of a costume party, a jolly and rather athletic one, with a lot of well-bred Englishmen playing at being in the greenwood." - James Shelley Hamilton, National Board of Review.

Compiled by Rob Nixon & Jeff Stafford

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teaser The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)

The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) is one of the best-loved swashbucklers, a film that hasn't aged a bit since its premiere. Nominated for four Academy Awards, the film made a lasting star of Errol Flynn and has been so popular over the years that clips even made their way into a Bugs Bunny cartoon. Flynn's charm and knack for action were perfectly matched by a wonderful cast, brilliant Technicolor photography and an inventive story. It's the rare masterpiece that captivates everybody from tykes to scholars.

When King Richard is captured and held for ransom, scheming nobles led by the vicious Sir Guy (Basil Rathbone) try to seize control of the English crown. One knight named Robin of Locksley (Flynn) refuses to play along and retreats to Sherwood Forest where he and his men rob the nobles to help both the poor and to pay the King's ransom. Hunted by Sir Guy and the forest's sheriff, Robin eludes them and accidentally ends up the captor of the lovely Maid Marian (Olivia de Havilland), who just happens to have also caught Sir Guy's eye. Naturally everybody won't be a happy winner.

Today, The Adventures of Robin Hood seems so perfect that it's hard to imagine that it could have ended up differently. But that's what almost happened since James Cagney was intended by Warner Brothers to play Robin. A contract dispute between Cagney and the studio left the film in the lurch until Captain Blood (1935) became a big hit, prompting cool minds to ponder that this new star Errol Flynn might be a decent Robin Hood. (Flynn had also replaced another actor in Captain Blood; Robert Donat that time.)

The film was budgeted at Warner Brother's highest to that date ($1.6 million which eventually went up to $2 million). Filming started near Chico, California (standing in for Sherwood Forest) under the direction of veteran William Keighley. The studio decided his approach was a bit too light-hearted and replaced him with Michael Curtiz so that the completed film actually has significant contributions from both directors. Curtiz would become Flynn's most productive director in their twelve films together despite constant friction between the two. Oddly enough he had directed Flynn in Flynn's second Hollywood film appearance (playing a murder victim in The Case of the Curious Bride, 1935). The studio might have wondered whether Flynn was worth it when he began showing his soon-to-be-notorious wild side, coming to the set late and kissing De Havilland so intensely that the scenes needed to be re-shot. But one look at the finished scenes removed all doubt and when the film was released audiences and critics agreed.

By the way, De Havilland's horse would shortly afterwards become Trigger of Roy Rogers fame; Quentin Tarantino has called him "the greatest animal actor who ever was."

Director: Michael Curtiz, William Keighley
Producer: Henry Blanke, Hal B. Willis
Screenplay: Norman Reilly Raine, Seton I. Miller
Cinematography: Tony Gaudio, Sol Polito
Editor: Ralph Dawson
Art Direction: Carl Jules Weyl
Music: Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Cast: Errol Flynn (Robin Hood), Olivia de Havilland (Maid Marian), Basil Rathbone (Sir Guy of Gisbourne), Claude Rains (Prince John), Patric Knowles (Will Scarlett), Eugene Pallette (Friar Tuck).
C-102m. Close captioning. Descriptive video.

By Lang Thompson

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teaser The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)

Welcome to Sherwood: The Making of The Adventures of Robin Hood (2003) takes us behind the scenes during production of the Warner Bros. classic - from the development of the script to the fight choreography. You'll also learn more about the history of the Robin Hood legend and what prompted WB to make The Adventures of Robin Hood. In addition, we learn how close James Cagney came to bouncing around Sherwood Forest in green tights instead of Errol Flynn and what happened to the horse Olivia de Havilland rode in the film and why two men are credited with directing the film.

The documentary includes color home movie footage of the cast and crew on location plus interviews with film historians such as Rudy Behlmer, Bob Thomas, Leonard Maltin and Robert Osborne. One thing the documentary doesn't go into is the relationship between Errol Flynn and director Michael Curtiz. In all the two men made 12 films together, including The Charge of the Light Brigade and Captain Blood, the film that made Flynn a star. Despite their long history and the string of hits they made, they hated each other. It just goes to show, you don't have to be friends to do good work. By the way, if you're a fan of The Adventures of Robin Hood, you'll be glad to know that the film is being released this month for the first time ever on DVD. The film has been digitally remastered - so it looks great - and the DVD has tons of special features including this documentary and the TCM Original documentary, Glorious Technicolor.

BW & C-60m.

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