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The Adventures of Robin Hood is not merely an excuse to showcase the gloriousness of Technicolor, rather, it is an extremely satisfying action-adventure picture with a lot of heart and energy. The story, of course, is based on the widely-known legends of Robin Hood (Errol Flynn), the sympathetic outlaw of Sherwood Forest whose well-intentioned exploits lead to conflict with the authority figures of the region, namely Prince John (Claude Rains) and Sir Guy of Gisbourne (Basil Rathbone). Along the way, he gathers a group of like-minded followers, most notably Little John (Alan Hale Sr.) and Friar Tuck (Eugene Palette) who aid him in his crusade for righteousness.

What jumps out at me the most (Visually) in the film, is the broad use of bright colors which add some excitement and lightheartedness to the story. The costumes, the sets, the props- all of these things exhibit nearly every color in the spectrum and this works very well. Had the film been shot in black and white, I think the mood could have been affected a little, because in my mind, this is the type of film that calls for this kind of vibrancy. The colors are just one contributor to the feeling of The Adventures of Robin Hood, though. Even more colorful than the costumes, are the characters who wear them. Just about every principle character has a specific persona and each one is given a moment to shine. There’s the amusing, yet, evil Prince John and his enforcer, Sir Guy of Gisbourne, who holds Robin Hood in withering contempt. And, on the other end, Friar Tuck and Little John spice up each scene they’re in with an ongoing banter. Probably most charismatic of the bunch is the title character of Robin Hood, and Errol Flynn plays him with just the right amount of enthusiasm.

Another aspect of this film that has to be addressed is the rousing action that takes place in it. There are many, many swordfights, staff-fights and escapes throughout and they are all directed and cut perfectly. Whether it’s the archery tournament held by Prince John or Robin’s liberation from the gallows, directors Michael Curtiz and William Keighley always seemed to know how to choreograph the action. This brings me back once more to what I think is The Adventures of Robin Hood’s most defining aspect, which is its admirable energy and enthusiasm. Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s score adds a lot to this feeling and without it, Robin Hood just wouldn’t be the same. I can’t say enough about how well this vigor is maintained. There isn’t a dull moment in the movie and nothing is done to gross excess. For, as lavish a production as this obviously was, the film never dipped into self-indulgence. It’s 100 minutes of excitement and adventure and I loved every minute.

The plot never gets off track and there were certain times that I was afraid that it would. When the subplot of Richard the Lionheart returning was introduced, I feared that the film would steer away from the conflict at its center, but I feel that in the end, Richard’s return fit quite well into the film as a whole. There had to be a conclusion consisting of Prince John’s defeat and the triumph of justice, and the film did just that. Also fitting well into the story was Robin Hood’s relationship with Maid Marion. Lots of times, I find that the addition of a love-interest in an action film tends to tear down the movie’s potential. There are several instances of writers shoving a romance into a story that has no need for it, but here, it works. The always great Olivia de Havilland does a good job in the role of Maid Marion and her relationship with Robin feels somewhat organic. It’s not forced or rushed. Nor is it an immediately obvious connection. In the scene in Sherwood Forest, where Robin Hood speaks with Maid Marion after showing her the poor, love is never spoken of between the two, but there is a hint of a future togetherness in the love theme playing in the background.

The Adventures of Robin Hood carries out the structure of an action-adventure film in a completely satisfying way. Everything about the film seems perfectly crafted and it hits all the right notes at all the right times. There isn’t anything profound in it, but at the same time, there doesn’t have to be with a story like this. We’re talking about Robin Hood- a character whose legend is comprised mainly of daring adventures and schemes rather than spiritual meditations or philosophical implications. What the story demands is compelling action and clever dialogue and the filmmakers accomplish these two things wonderfully. While the film may not be entirely accurate (With regards to the history behind it), it is still very entertaining. For a few days after watching The Adventures of Robin Hood, I thought that I’d give the film four and a half stars out of five, but after considerable reflection, I am hard-pressed to find much of anything that could justify such a rating.
5 out of 5 stars



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