Saturday, January 30, 2016

"The Adventures of Robin Hood" (1938)

I really love this movie.  I didn't grow up with it, but I wish I had.  My sister-in-law gave it to me for my birthday a couple years after I got married, and I was super excited to finally get to see it!  It was one of the first DVDs we owned :-D  This is now one of my kids' favorite movies -- we've been watching it about once a month of late.

I love Robin Hood, and collect movies and books about him.  This is one of my top 3 favorite movie versions!  But only the Disney animated version from 1973 captures the same joyous, rollicking tone that this one has, which is so much a part of why I love both.  Lately, filmmakers and writers have been trying to make Robin Hood be Very Serious, but it never quite works (for me, anyway) because Robin himself is just such great fun.  (For more of my thoughts on lots of different Robin Hood movies, you can read my Femnista article from last summer here.)

Don't you love movies that start with a written-out prologue?  I certainly do.  Look at these beautiful opening title cards!

Yup, we've got the usual Robin Hood villains in this movie.  Prince John (Claude Rains):

Guy of Gisborne (Basil Rathbone):

And the Sheriff of Nottingham (Melville Cooper):

We have the full complement of heroes too!  Robin Hood (Errol Flynn):

Little John (Alan Hale):

Will Scarlett (Patric Knowles):

And also Friar Tuck (Eugene Pallette), Much (Herbert Mundin), and various and sundry other Merry Men, some of whom make excellent arm rests:

And, of course, we have Maid Marian (Olivia de Havilland):

As you can see, Maid Marian starts out really friendly with Prince John.  In this version, she's not Robin's childhood sweetheart.  Rather, she's King Richard's royal ward, and a bit snobby about being a Norman.  We first meet up with her attending a sumptuous feast for Prince John at Guy of Gisborne's castle.

It's not long before Robin waltzes in uninvited.  He'd had a run-in with Gisborne earlier that day over a peasant killing this deer, and he's here to have a discussion with all the nobles about how cruel and unfair they've been lately.

He confronts Prince John, Guy of Gisborne, and the Sheriff of Nottingham...

...cracks lots of jokes at their expense...

...makes himself entirely at home...

...and generally shocks Lady Marian with his audacity.

His jokes don't last long, however.  He's actually here to be Serious, as you can see:

After some thrilling heroics, in which he single-handedly outfoxes a whole castle full of Normans...

...he and Much make their escape, and we get treated to some gorgeous cinematography:

This movie is out to hit all the beats you expect from a Robin Hood story.  So of course we have to have that confrontation with Little John on a log bridge.

And then we have to gather the unhappy peasantry to us under the greenwood tree.

And then we have to start waylaying rich people and collecting the ransom that's supposed to free King Richard from prison, but which of course, Prince John wants to use to make himself king for keeps.  During one of those waylayings, they capture Maid Marian, who you can see Does Not Like Robin Hood One Bit:

You know that's not going to last long.  I mean, Robin Hood is played by Errol Flynn, and she's played by Olivia de Havilland, and obviously they're going to end up together because That's How It Goes.


Next must come the great archery tournament, you know.  With plenty of joyous Technicolor spectacle!

Drink in all that color, would you?  Now, I mentioned that my kids love this movie.  How much?  Sarah says she wants me to make her Maid Marian's Archery Tournament Dress for Halloween this year.

(I don't blame her, do you?  It's suuuuuuuuch a pretty dress.  I kind of want one myself.  However, the question remains whether I'm capable of making such an intricate thing.)

Okay, obviously Robin Hood wins the tournament, even though he's disguised as a tinker.  I'm not sure what about this outfit says "tinker," but it's got such a nice, slouchy hat, don't you think?

Of course, everyone realizes he's Robin Hood once he wins, and various plot things happen that I'm not going to go into very much right now.  I'm going to skip over about half an hour so I don't spoil Absolutely Everything, and rejoin our hero here, where he's pretending he's Romeo and Maid Marian is Juliet:

Well, come on, you can't have de Havilland and Flynn in a movie without them making with the smoochies for a bit, right?  It's their third film together, and audiences would be very disappointed if we didn't have a passionate (yet Code-approvedly chaste) clinch or two.

Anyway, there's more plot stuff, and then toward the end, we get treated to some spectacular sets that incorporate gorgeous matte paintings

And then we have some more thrilling heroics.  It's hard to screen-cap such things because everyone is jumping around so heroically and thrillingly, I'm afraid, but I did manage to grab this moment between Gisborne and Robin.  I really love watching their duel because of course, Rathbone was an accomplished swordsman for reals, so he doesn't need a fencing double, which just... makes me grin.

And then we're all happy, because we should always all be happy at the end of a Robin Hood movie, right?  I mean except the bad guys, they should be unhappy, or at least feeling chastened and remorseful.  Or be dead, there's always that, too.

And that's the end of a joyous romp of a movie!

Now, I'm reviewing this for the Period Drama Challenge, so of course, that's not the end of my review.

Oh no, not the end at all!  Now 'tis time to share some more costumes.  I have no idea if this is at all like what people actually wore in England during the Middle Ages.  But I'm firmly convinced this is what they wanted to be wearing.  Feast your eyes, my friends!

This is the only one of Marian's outfits I'm not nuts about:

 Oh, and remember how I said my kids loooooooooove this movie?  This past Halloween, Tootie insisted I make her "Maid Marian's stripey dress that she wears when Robin Hood jumps off the thing and they all have a big, silly fight."  I didn't remember Marian EVER wearing a stripey dress.  At first, I thought she meant this one:

But nope!  She meant this one:

Now, Marian only wears that dress once, and we never see her full-length in it -- there are only 4 or 5 shots of her in this scene, and they're pretty short.  But Tootie remembered that dress.  And sure enough, Marian wears it when Robin Hood jumps off "the thing" and they all have "a big, silly fight."

Here's what I came up with:

She was super happy with it, and still wears it a ton, so yay!  I win!  Hee.

Is this movie family-friendly?  It is!  No bad words.  No more than a couple of sweet, mostly-turned-away-from-the-camera smooches and one moment where a bad guy grabs a servant girl and makes her sit on his lap, then bends over her like he's forcing a kiss on her, but nothing is shown and my kids have never commented on it.  There's obviously some violence involving bows and arrows, quarter staffs, and swords, but it's all very vague and stagey.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Guest Post About the Soundtrack for "The Sting" (1973)

I've got a new guest post up here on James' blog today, all about one of the soundtracks I have loved for the longest:  Marvin Hamlisch's score for The Sting (1973).  It's one of those soundtracks that contributes so very much to the story that imagining it with different music changes the whole film.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Earliest Memories Tag

Thanks for tagging me with this, Blessing Counter!  I had a ton of fun putting some of my early memories into words, and finding some old snapshots to go along with them.

1. What is your earliest memory? 

I have a few tiny snippets of memory from when I was around the age of 3.  I remember little bits of our house in Iowa -- my bedroom had orange carpet, my parents' bedroom had pale blue carpet and a matching bedspread and curtains, and one of the bathrooms had a green caddy for the toilet brush.

(Me around age 2, wearing my dad's cowboy boots.)

2. What is your earliest memory of a birthday? 

I think it's from my third birthday -- my mom's friend Jean decorated a cake for me with M&Ms as balloons on it, and I wanted to pick off the M&Ms and eat them, but my mom wouldn't let me.

(Said birthday cake)

3. What is your earliest memory of a food? 

Beside the cake above, I remember eating fried chicken at a restaurant with my grandparents when I was probably 5 or 6, and being worried that they wouldn't bring me drumsticks because those were the only chicken piece I knew how to eat.

4. What is your earliest memory of a gathering? 

I have a teensy memory of being in Sunday school when I was, again, about 3 -- singing a song called "Who's That Knocking At My Door" with my teacher and classmates while we took turns being the person to knock on a door and introduce ourselves.

5. What is your earliest memory of family? 

I can remember playing with my dad when I was only 2 or 3 -- he would get down on his hands and knees and be my horse, and I would ride on his back all around our house in Iowa.

(Can't find a picture of that, so here's us finger-painting together instead.)

6. What is your favorite memory? 

I don't know if I have one favorite memory, of my childhood or otherwise.  I have many, many memories I treasure.  Playing that I was an explorer in our backyard in Michigan, where I would make a circle of rocks to be my campfire.  Playing that I was a train robber and climbing on top of our swing set, which was the train.  Getting to choose our dog, Lucas, from a litter of puppies when I was 11.  Lying under our neighbors' lilacs and reading books in the spring.  Meeting my first real best friend when I was 10, along the shore at Lake Huron.

(One of my little campfires -- I'm about 4 here.
The longer stick is my rifle, and the white disc is a
Frisbee I used as my cooking pot.)

7. What is your earliest memory of a gift? 

I remember getting my first Barbie and an Etch-a-Sketch and some coloring books when I was in the hospital when I was not quite 4.  I had a virus of some sort, with a super-high fever that refused to break for days, and was in the hospital for 10 whole days -- wow, that must have been so scary for my parents.  I can remember I had this IV stand that was blue that we called my "little blue buddy" and I had to take it with me when I walked around -- my dad would come to visit every day (I'm assuming my mom stayed with me -- I was an only child then) and once I was able, he'd take me on a walk down the hospital hallway to the vending machine and buy me an Almond Joy or a Mounds :-9

(With that first Barbie, in the hospital.)

8. What is your earliest memory of an embarrassment? 

When I was probably 6 or 7, a pastor acquaintance of my dad's came over for some reason.  I said hi to him and called him by his first name, because that's what I heard my parents call him.  He bent down and looked me in the eye and scolded me severely for addressing an adult by their first name.  I went and hid under the dining room table and wouldn't come out until he was gone.

9. What is your earliest memory of when you were scared? 

I remember having a really scary dream when I was 7.  I dreamed there was a white ghost woman floating slowly toward me over the ground by my grandparents' barn, and woke up shrieking and crying.  My mom came in the room to comfort me, and told me it was probably because it was our first night back at home after having been gone for a month.

(Random picture of my mom building my new dollhouse I got
for Christmas when I was 2.  I still have that dollhouse!!!
My kids play with it now -- it's held up well.)

10. What is your earliest memory of a camp? 

Of going camping?  I went on my first camping trip when I was probably 13.  I loved being able to tramp around in the woods all over the place, eat food cooked over a fire, and generally pretend I was a cowboy or a backwoodsman.

11. How young were you when you received Christ? (optional)

I was baptized on Mother's Day, about 3 weeks after I was born.

I just tagged a bunch of people the other day, so I'm not going to tag anyone this time around.  But if you want to do this, consider yourself tagged by me!