Media

Now Playing: The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)

During the 2017 holiday season, I got a great deal on the Best of Warner Bros. 100 Film Collection. Diane and I haven’t seen most of these movies, but we are committed to watching one a week and writing a short review.


It was about time for a movie Diane and I both enjoyed. I give you “The Adventures of Robin Hood” from 1938:

Our first movie in color, “The Adventures of Robin Hood” is easily the most modern movie we’ve yet seen for this project. To me, it felt like a prototype to your typical Marvel movie seen today. It’s no wonder that of all the movies we’ve seen, this is our favorite even if it isn’t particularly deep.

“The Adventures of Robin Hood” follows the legend of Robin Hood as you might know it from more recent movies like Mel Brooks’s “Men in Tights” or any other adaptation of the classic story. This isn’t a stuffy, dated, or hyper realistic take though. “The Adventures of Robin Hood” excellently blends action, adventure, humor, and a dash of romance. It also has a couple of villains that you want to see lose and a charismatic lead you want to see win. You know, like every Marvel movie you’ve seen and loved in the last decade.

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I swear, this is not a comedy or the Mel Brooks’s version!

For the first half of the film or so, I was worried that “Men in Tights” had followed “The Adventures of Robin Hood” story beats too closely. I’ve seen that classic a dozen times. Even though they are similar in structure, the existence of a parody in no way makes “The Adventures of Robin Hood” a worse film. Even having a story I’ve seen so many times done in so many ways, “The Adventures of Robin Hood” quickly found its footing and there is no mistaking this as the quintessential Robin Hood movie.

Diane’s big standout was the choreography. I have to agree. While it was a little off-putting to hear plastic swords clinking and clanking with as much impact as opening a tub of whip cream, the fighters were all lovely. I especially enjoyed the climatic battle between Robin Hood and Sir Guy of Gisbourne. Other than that, there were a lot of great outside shots and scenes that still hold up as well.

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This is an objectively cool shot, regardless of any other factors.

Though I’ve heard his name, I have never seen Errol Flynn in action before. Let me say this: the man is charming. If ever there was a dashing rogue, he is it. This detracted a bit for me since every fight scene, as excellent as they were, felt like swashbuckling and not a true medieval fight, which was intentional I am sure. Still, despite the inaccuracy, I was wholly entertained.

All of the side characters were a treat. The fight on the bridge with Little John was great. Best of all for me, I loved the recruiting of Friar Tuck, played by the actor Eugene Pallette. Diane found it difficult to understand him, as he sounded like a bullfrog with a horrible smoking habit. The actor later died of throat cancer, so that’s probably more fact than joke.

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Let there be colors so we can all look so fabulous!

Finally, we both loved the color in this movie. Diane read that they had to borrow every technicolor camera whenever shooting the movie to get all of their scenes. The costume department made it count too. Every character, whether they have a name or not, is decked from head to toe in colorful medieval attire. It reminded me of playing games like Ultima Online that allow for players to freely dye their character’s clothes any color they want.

I would re-watch “The Adventures of Robin Hood” and I recommend it to anyone, regardless of their familiarity with the subject. This is a movie for all ages and all people. While it is not a particularly deep film, it never fails to be fun. I’d personally give a nod to “Cimarron” still for myself since it was so different but “The Adventures of Robin Hood” is a better-rounded movie by far.

Bonus Screenshots

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What an entrance!

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I get that in most stories everyone, including Robin, knows it is a trap, but this is by far the laziest disguise ever. “They won’t know me if I choose to wear a color other than green and leave my hat behind!”

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Lens technology at the time is weird to see today.  The focus on this shot is all over the place. Friar Tuck looks photoshopped in.

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2 replies »

  1. I admire and love this movie immensely. It is in many ways a blue print for all quality future action movies.

    A couple of things to reflect upon regarding The Adventures of Robin Hood.Technicolor cameras were very large, compared to standard black and white set ups. Yet this movie has crane shots, and lots of fluid camera movement. Very advanced for the times. http://americanhistory.si.edu/sites/default/files/blog_files/a/6a00e553a80e1088340133f03fcd41970b-800wi.jpg

    Then of course there’s the archer Howard Hill who shot all the various archery scenes and had a small cameo in the tournament sequence. He also fired real arrows at the stunt men during the action scenes who were heavily padded. He never once missed the beech wood blocks they had sewn into their costumes.

    And let us not forget the superb score by Erich Wolfgang Korngold. He effectively changed the way movie soundtrack were written with his classical background. He also composed directly as he watched the movie. An utter genius.

    The shadow against the wall scene has become utterly iconic and turns up often in other movies throughout the years as a homage.

    I’m so glad you and Diane enjoyed this movie and I love how you’ve found parallels in modern cinema. It proves it’s still relevant. If you’ll excuse the indulgence here are my thought of the film I wrote a few years ago.
    http://www.containsmoderateperil.com/blog/2015/8/14/the-adventures-of-robin-hood-1938

    Liked by 1 person

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