“Men, if you're willing to fight for our people, I want you!”
The Adventures of Robin Hood was my first Errol Flynn film and my first Olivia de Havilland film. I had heard of this famous classic acting duo but I have never seen them in their own films let alone together. I watched this last year in a Music in Film class I took and I loved it when it was over I considered it one of my favorite films and still do.
The legends of Robin Hood are hundreds of years old originating in the thirteen hundreds. Robin Hood and his Merry Men take from the rich and give to the poor. The main story that everyone knows takes place during the Crusades when King Richard the Lion Hearted left England to fight in the Holy Land. His brother Prince John takes over but he is cruel and corrupt and taxes the English people until they have nothing left. Robin Hood creates much havoc for the prince and his group of Norman friends he is constantly playing tricks on them and capturing their knights.
The Adventures of Robin Hood was written from several stories and variations of Robin Hood. On the Blu Ray special features a literary historian explains how Robin Hood started out as a trickster and how he used to coax people into duels and fights to see if they were worthy enough for his group. This was put into the film in three scenes. The historian also explains how the story of the character changed with the times such as when he needed to be a brave man and stand up to tyranny he was made to do and when he needed to be romantic and in love he was. Maid Marion was introduced during the Romantic Period in the eighteen hundreds she was never in the original stories. I love literature and I find it fascinating how stories are suited to their times so I found this very interesting.
So pretty much in the film Robin Hood is a trickster and he is very smart. He and his men are fiercely loyal to King Richard and want to get rid of Prince John. His arch nemesis in the film is a character named Sir Guy of Gisbourne (Basil Rathbone). Robin and Sir Guy are the perfect foils because they are both smart and keep one step ahead of the other but no for very long.
Robin falls in love with Maid Marian after he kidnaps her as she was riding with Sir Guy and the Sheriff of Nottingham (who here is the comic relief). At first she is not happy with being the rogue’s prisoner but he shows her what her Norman friends have been doing to the people and she feels awful. They are taken with each other and both fall in love quickly. When Robin is captured and sentenced to death Marian with the help of the Merry Men help him escape.
We all know that King Richard returns and order is returned to Nottingham and England and that Marian and Robin live happily ever after.
From start to finish this film is so enjoyable. I was left feeling to happy and so entertained after seeing this. A commentator on the special features perfectly described the film as a fairytale in Technicolor. There is no way the film would have worked so well had it not been filmed in Technicolor it is what makes the film so much more fantastic.
Also on the special features much is made of the cast. Leonard Maltin says that if you break down the cast and their talents then look at them as a whole it is the perfect movie cast. Many of the supporting cast members were stock character actors who had been in the film industry since the silent era so they were seasoned pros at what they did. Every one of their qualities greatly added to the film they were all so fantastic. He was so cute but I barely recognized him without his pencil thin mustache.
The four man cast members- Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Basil Rathbone, and Claude Rains- deserve so much credit they were flawless in their roles. This was Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland’s second film together. What always made them work and what made them work especially well in the film was that they were such good actors and they were so beautiful that you could believe Robin Hood and Maid Marian could love each other like they did. I remember as I was watching this film I knew de Havilland was Joan Fontaine’s older sister so I had to pull Fontaine on up my phone to see how much they looked alike. In some ways they do but Olivia is adorable she is not gorgeous she is just ridiculously cute while Joan is more pretty(Olivia is definitely was more talented than her sister I will say). They definitely share the same high cheekbones. As I watched this film the other night I just gushed like an idiot over how adorable de Havilland was and I could not get over the fact that she was twenty-two when she made this film. Errol Flynn was his usual devilishly handsome self and was the personification of Robin Hood. The moment I saw him I thought he was handsome even though he was wearing tights and an awful wig. The guy really did light up the screen and had such a magnetic and charming screen personality. The first time I saw Claude Rains I died laughing he looked so awful and so silly with his wig, fake beard and colorful costumes. I kept thinking of the guy in Casablanca and just laughed so hard. Basil Rathbone was incredible he was such a perfect bad guy. He had the best evil stares and just carried that air of meanness so well.
I still cannot get over the flamboyant costumes designed by Milo Anderson. The first time sitting through this I laughed so hard over the clothing but now watching it they pop out so well and make the film that much more amazing and colorful. Olivia de Havilland worked with Anderson on her costumes she did a lot of research and would then bring her ideas back to him. Anderson liked working with her because she was very nice and helpful. The costumes have a bit of a contemporary feel to them not only with the coloring but the way they were made you can see the little bit of Art Deco influence in them. Also de Havilland’s eyebrows and makeup are contemporary in style.
Erich Wolfgang Korngold created an amazing score and one that is greatly revered today. Korngold did not accept the job at first but once Hitler took over in Eastern Europe he took the job. The story of Robin Hood’s fight against tyranny paralleled the fight in Europe. Korngold’s score is a symphony with a film accompanying it, it is so strong and so full it almost takes on a life of its own. The score is so complex and strong that this complexion and strength even extends into the filler music. The score is also a perfect example of music syncing with the movements of the characters especially in the fight at the end between Robin and Sir Guy it follows their every movement.
There are two directors for this film. William Kieghley was the first director but Warner Bros felt that he was not creating enough action so they turned to Michael Curtiz who was known for making some action film. Flynn got along great Keighley whom he had worked with before but he did not get along with Curtiz whom he also worked with but did not like. Curtiz is one of my favorite directors I like what he did with the film.
The Adventures of Robin Hood is such a great film. It is one of those perfect light happy films that just make my day. There seriously are no flaws with this film it is just utter classic Hollywood perfection. I am so happy that this was both my first Olivia de Havilland and Errol Flynn film and my first film I had seen of their pairing they were so adorable together. I have seen just about every one of their films together and this one is the best.
The Adventures of Robin Hood is a classic film definitely not to be missed and should be seen no matter if you love classic films or not