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.


See?


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.

47 comments:

  1. Looks like such a delightful movie! I love Robin Hood stories (the Disney version is such fun!) so I'm sure I would quite enjoy this. :)

    I love the way you do your reviews! They're really fun to read and very informative. (Plus there are lots of gorgeous pictures, which is always an A in my book!)

    My first review for the Period Drama Challenge is up on blog now. You can give it a peek in case you're curious!

    http://sunshineandscribblings.blogspot.com/2016/01/period-drama-challenge-singin-in-rain.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Mary! It IS a delightful film. And I'm glad you like my reviews :-) I don't do every movie review in this style -- it takes a special movie to make me want to spend several hours getting screencaps. But they do turn out beautifully when I do! For the Period Drama Challenge, I tend to make an extra effort, I must admit :-)

      I'll check out your review soon!

      Delete
  2. My whole family loves this movie. I don't know if this or Disney's Robin Hood was my introduction to Robin Hood, but it doesn't really matter. Both versions are great. If you haven't already, I highly suggest that you check out BBC's Robin Hood TV show. It's quite sad/dark in places but it also manages to capture the exuberance of this movie. (At least for the first two seasons.)


    Loved this review! (The screencaps especially.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Eva, it is a movie that well deserves your love!

      I've seen a handful of BBC Robin Hood eps, and they're a neat mix of goofy and dark, mixed as only the British can mix them. Richard Armitage certainly looks delectable in it, especially after he gets a better wardrobe in season 2 :-9 I do hope to watch the whole series sometime.

      I love getting screencaps :-) A lot of times, if I just go ahead and screencap the whole movie, then the review basically writes itself...

      Delete
  3. Such a great movie, and such a great Robin Hood! I don't recall a time of not knowing this one, cuz it's one of my dad's all-time favorite movies. Great screenshots, as usual! Love all those dresses of hers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My parents actually hadn't seen it until I watched it with my kids at their place last year! Crazy, huh?

      Yeah, must be nice to be a royal ward and have a new dress every scene change.

      Delete
  4. I grew up with this one and we just LOVED it! It has so many great actors and actresses in it. :) Basil Rathbone is so perfect for Sir Guy and of course Errol Flinn and Olivia de Havilland are amazing! Your commentary is perfect. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lois, yes, the casting is just spot-on, isn't it? Delicious! And thanks, glad you liked the review :-)

      Delete
  5. Oh, well, *I* grew up watching this movie. ;) This is one of the most basic-true-to-the-story Robin Hood adaptions I've seen (I've seen at least 4) and it never gets old! The fact that it's so clean, and also fun and serious at the same time makes it so good! And by golly, the music gets stuck in your head. :P (Once you've heard it about 5 times, it starts to get Slightly Aggravating, but it DOES suit the movie.)
    I love Marian's costumes, in this movie! (And I'm SSSOOO jealous about her hair. >.<) My favourite is her blue and white one she wears to the tournament. :)
    ~Miss Meg

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Miss Meg, I've seen at least 7 movie versions and parts of 2 different TV shows, and yes, this one is just unbeatable. I love the score too -- I'm going to do one of my guest soundtrack posts about it soon.

      I think my favorite is that purply velvet one with the colored bands on arms and waist, but the blue-and-white is a close second.

      Delete
  6. This looks so beautiful . . . Especially all the costumes!! I mean, really!! I love Maid Marian's blue-and-white dress that she wears to the tournament.

    Just out of curiosity: Is King Richard portrayed as the "good guy" or the "bad guy" in this film? Because I know that Robin Hood stories generally have a Saxons-vs.-Normans theme, and that the Normans (like Prince John and Guy de Gisborne) are seen as the bad guys. BUT King Richard is obviously a Norman too . . . so how do they handle that? Just wondering.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jessica, King Richard is a good guy in this. Though he gets chided for leaving his kingdom to go to ruin while he was off crusading. It does have the Saxons vs. Normans thing going on, but because Richard is King, he's sort of treated as being above that. And of course, since Prince John is trying to kill him, he and Robin have a common enemy.

      Delete
    2. I see . . . so the general attitude is kind of like, "MOST Normans are horrible, but King Richard isn't such a bad sort?" That makes more sense.

      Delete
  7. This is probably my favorite Robin Hood film.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Isaac, it's a good choice for favorite!

      Delete
  8. I had so much fun watching this movie right after Captain Blood (the cast is basically the same haha). Fun review :) "This is what they wanted to be wearing" haha

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sarah, yes, this and Captain Blood and The Sea Hawk all have so many of the same faces! TSH is missing Olivia, but it's still fun. My kids are really into pirates right now, so I want to show them both of those soon.

      Delete
    2. Do you have any ideas on where to find Sea Hawk? I can't find it anywhere and it looks so fun. :) Aw what a good mom. :D

      Delete
    3. Sarah, you can buy it on DVD at Amazon, either by itself or as part of a couple different Errol Flynn collections.

      Delete
  9. I love the stripy dress! Though my favourite was always the dress she wears in the balcony/bedroom scene.

    Don't know if you do awards and stuff but also nominated you for a liebster award, here's the link: (http://whenitdoes.blogspot.co.uk/2016/02/liebster-award.html)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Catherine, that sort of nightgown-plus-dressing-gown ensemble from the love scene is sooooo floaty.

      I do awards and tags! Thanks for nominating me :-) I've gotten the Liebster a couple times before, but if I have time to do this soon, I will.

      Delete
  10. Ahhh, this movie is so fun! I love Errol Flynn-and Oliva De Havilland. They are one of my favorite vintage-movie-screen-couples EVER.
    And, course, I love the story of Robin Hood. :) Great review!
    If you do end up making Marian's archery dress, please share it with us! It's so beautiful and I'd love to see the finished project. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Natalie, they're a very fun on-screen couple, I agree :-) Glad you enjoyed the review! I'll try to share pics if I do make more costumes from this :-)

      Delete
  11. This was one of the first Errol Flynn movies I ever watched, and then ended up watching and watching and watching. I pretty much had it memorized, and I'm glad my children enjoy it.

    Here's a little trivia (My Dad bought a super-duper dvd with lots of bonuses which is where I learned this.)...

    The man who composed the music says this movies saved his and his family's life. They were a Jewish family from Europe, and he brought his whole family with him to California to work on the music. While he was here things started going south with Hitler so their family never returned home (which I think was Austria, one of the first countries to fall under Hitler).

    I totally enjoyed this review. I think it's time to watch this movie again. My little boys would heartily agree, I'm sure.

    Oh, and great job on the costume.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jennifer, it's probably the first Errol Flynn movie I ever saw too, and just delicious. I do not mind that my kids want to watch it a lot!!!

      I actually own the soundtrack, and learned that same thing from the liner notes! Erich Wolfgang Korngold was the composer, and he didn't want to write this score because he didn't like writing actiony music, but they convinced him at last, so he and his wife and one child went to California for it, leaving their other child with an aunt and uncle. That child and the aunt and uncle were on one of the last trains out of Austria before the Nazis took over. So amazing.

      And thanks! I was pretty pleased with the costume, considering I made it with a nightgown pattern and kind of made up the sleeves as I went along, lol.

      Delete
    2. Costumes are pretty forgiving (as are children as long as you try). :)

      Delete
    3. Jennifer, it's true! They're pleased as long as it bears a vague resemblance to their mental picture of what they want to look like! Like how the fabric for this wasn't a lot like the movie's -- it was striped, and had red and green in it, and she chose it from among the 4 or 5 striped fabrics I could find at the store :-)

      Delete
  12. Ahh I love this movie so much! Such a great review! I grew up with this film and still enjoy it so much. Also, I loved all your pictures of Maid Marian's costumes - I used to "rate" her best and worst costumes with my sisters. And the "striped dress" you made for your daughter is so awesome! You are such a cool mom. :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Faith, that sounds like it would have been a great pastime! I have done similar things myself, though with friends since I don't have any sisters.

      And thanks, I try to be a cool mom :-) It's pretty easy right now cuz they're little yet.

      Delete
  13. I really like your movie and TV reviews! you have a very interesting style of writing (I really get a kick out of your Combat reviews, especially your post about the Walking Wounded!) Anyway, I like this movie a lot, and I've seen it several times. It's actually the only Robin Hood movie I've ever seen, because once I see a particular actor in a role, I never can accept any other actor in that role! (That's why the only Sherlock Holmes I've ever watched is Basil Rathbone. I could never picture anyone else in that role, he seems to embody the book character exactly).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Connie! I tend to bop between really serious and really silly for movie reviews, and this is one of the silly ones :-) My Scuttlebutt reviews of Combat! episodes are almost all silly, though.

      Delete
  14. Great review! An excellent film combining great humor, action, dramatic tension, and the triumph of good over evil. Errol Flynn at his most Errol Flynniest. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, George! That's a good way of putting it :-)

      Delete
  15. I finally got to see this last week, and it was great fun—all the color and pageantry and swashbuckling, and everything just about exactly the way I imagined it after reading Robin Hood books. I think I only saw one other movie with Errol Flynn before this, and didn't really have an opinion on him one way or the other, but in this particular instance he seemed absolutely born to play the part of Robin Hood. All the casting was excellent, in fact (Claude Rains' foppish take on Prince John was a different one than I'd expected, but a real hoot). And isn't that blue-and-white dress Marian wears to the tournament an absolute dream?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Elisabeth, that's so great! It really does suit the books, doesn't it?

      I've only seen Errol Flynn in a couple other things, but I just picked up a 4-pack of his movies that has both his pirate flicks, The Sea Hawk and Captain Blood, so I'm really looking forward to seeing those, especially since my kids are super into pirates right now.

      Claude Rains is hilarious in this! Clearly just having the best time being all scheming and dreadful. Cracks me up.

      And yes, Marian's tournament dress is ah-may-zeeng.

      Delete
    2. I still recall watching this on a makeshift screen in my elementary school gym about 1962. During the winter months in Northern (Edmonton) Alberta, the school would open on Saturday and show old films. It cost us all a dime for the afternoon. It was always a Warner Brother's film and a half dozen 1940 and 50's Loonie Tune cartoons. Great fun! Beat the minus 35 or more weather outside.

      Gord

      Delete
    3. Gord, what a great memory! A dime for an afternoon at the movies, exposure to classic films, AND a warm place to hang out. Sounds awesome.

      Delete
  16. ROBIN HOOD was also the first dvd I bought after wearing out my vhs copy.

    Gord

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's one of the first DVDs I owned as well!

      Delete
  17. I love this movie! It is my all time favorite Robin Hood! It is what got me obsessed. I love how you said:

    "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."

    I loved all the pictures you used. The color is fabulous!

    By the way, did you make Sarah that dress for Halloween?

    Lovely review!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Movie Critic, it's well worth loving :-)

      I had such a fun time screencapping this movie! So much color, so many beautifully framed shots.

      Nope, she decided to be a cat for Halloween instead. It could happen some other year, though!

      Delete
  18. Close to being my favourite movie of all time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Michael, it would be a wonderful choice for a favorite!

      Delete
  19. This is a fine, interesting article. I enjoyed reading it, and I look forward to reading more of your articles in the future.

    By the way, I would like to invite you to join my blogathon, "The Great Breening Blogathon:" https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2017/09/07/extra-the-great-breening-blogathon/. It is celebrating the life and work of Joseph Breen, the enforcer of the Motion Picture Production Code between 1934 and 1954. As we honor his birthday, which is on October 14, we will be discussing and analyzing the Code era, breening films from other eras, and writing about our own ideas for classic movies. One doesn't have to agree with the Code and Mr. Breen to enjoy that! I hope you will do me the honor of joining. We could really use your talent!

    Yours Hopefully,

    Tiffany Brannan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Tiffany! I will look into your blogathon and see if I have anything to contribute.

      Delete
  20. Dear Hamlette,

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    Yours Hopefully,

    Tiffany Brannan

    ReplyDelete

Agree or disagree? That is the question...

(Rudeness and vulgar language will not be tolerated.)