The Adventures of Robin Hood

  • Title: The Adventures of Robin Hood
  • Directors: Michael Curtiz & William Keighley
  • Date: 1938
  • Studio: Warner Brothers
  • Stars: Errol Flynn, Olivia deHavilland, Basil Rathbone, Claude Rains, Alan Hale
  • Genre: Adventure, Classic
  • Format: Technicolor, Standard (4 x 3)
  • DVD Format: NTSC, Region 1
  • DVD Notes: 2-disc Special Edition

The Adventures of Robin Hood is another of my favorite films. The Technicolor process results in very bright jewel tones, that add to the storybook quality of this movie – as does shooting much of the movie on location. For once the “this is obviously Southern California” look is a positive thing because the bright sun (even in day-for-night shots) adds to the storybook feel.

Errol Flynn is excellent as Robin, smiling and laughing his way through the film, though he delivers his speech rousing the men of Sherwood and Loxley well. But this is definitely a lighter edged Robin Hood – which is fine, it’s part of what makes it work in, again, a very storybook fashion. Also, Flynn is brilliant in the sword-fighting scenes – and his derring-do works well for the character of Robin Hood.

Olivia de Havilland is quite feisty as Lady Marian, in this version of the story a Royal ward of King Richard (the Lionheart) who’s been living under the thumb of Prince John (Raines) – though she really has no clue what he’s doing to the country. Once Robin makes things clear to her – she jumps sides and also falls in love with Robin. But it’s nice to see in a movie from 1938 such a feisty, intelligent, independent Lady Marian. I also liked that her maid falls for one of Robin’s men.

The plot covers many of the familiar legends of Robin Hood in an almost episodic style — meeting Little John and Friar Tuck, challenging Prince John – by stalking into a party carrying a Royal deer and plopping it in the middle of the table, the archery contest (that results in Robin being captured by Bad Prince John), and finally King Richard showing up and he and Robin over-throwing John and the Sheriff of Nottingham and the king not merely knighting Robin but declaring him a Baron and an Earl and marrying him to Marian.

It’s a fun movie with lots of sword-fighting and adventure. Flynn is brilliant at sword fighting as I said — the finale with the fight between Robin and Sir Guy of Gisbourne (Rathbone) is brilliant, including both a fight on a curved stair and a shadow play fight. Marian is also quite feisty and well-played by deHavilland.

I have the 2-disc special edition, which includes a plethora of special features including:

  • Welcome to Sherwood: The Story of  The Adventures of  Robin Hood
  • Deleted scenes, and bloopers
  • Robin Hood through the Ages
  • A Journey to Sherwood Forest (home movies)
  • Classic Cartoons: “Rabbit Hood” and “Robin Hood Daffy” (NOT to be missed – they are brilliant!)
  • Vintage shorts (one on archery and another interviewing Flynn)
  • Splitting the Arrow — Art, Costume Design, Drawings, photos, publicity materials
  • Audio-Only Extras: Robin Hood Radio Show, Korngold Piano Session
  • Glorious Technicolor – Angela Lansbury narrates a documentary explaining the tri-color (and base b/w) film process that results in Technicolor (Another do NOT miss extra)
  • Feature-length Commentary with Rudy Behlmer, Warner’s Film Historian
  • Warner Night at the Movies hosted by Leonard Martin (Trailer, newsreel, short, & cartoon)
  • Errol Flynn Trailer Gallery

Recommendation: See it! Add the Special Edition DVD your collection! Show this movie to your kids or nieces & nephews.
Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Next Film: Airplane!