The Adventures of Robin Hood 1938
Dashing Errol Flynn is the definitive Robin Hood in the most gloriously swashbuckling version of the legendary story. Warner Brothers reunited Michael Curtiz, their top-action director, with the winning team of Flynn and Olivia de Havilland (Maid Marian) and perennial villain Basil Rathbone as the aristocratic Sir Guy of Gisbourne, and pulled out all stops for the production. It became their costliest film to date, a grandly handsome, glowing Technicolor adventure set to a stirring, Oscar-winning score by Erich Wolfgang Korngold. The decadent Prince John (a smoothly conniving Claude Rains) takes advantage of King Richard’s absence to tax the country into poverty but meets his match in the medieval guerrilla rebel Robin Hood and his Merry Men of Sherwood Forest, who rise up and, to quote a cliché coined by the film, “steal from the rich and give to the poor.” Stocky Alan Hale Sr. plays Robin’s loyal friend Little John (a part he played in Douglas Fairbanks’s silent version), Eugene Palette the portly Friar Tuck, and Melville Cooper the bumbling Sheriff of Nottingham. Flynn’s confidence and cocky charm makes for a perfect Robin Hood, and his easygoing manner is a marvelous counterpoint to Rathbone’s regal bearing and courtly diction. The film climaxes in their rousing battle-to-the-finish sword fight, a magnificently choreographed scene highlighted by Curtiz’s inventive use of shadows cast upon the castle walls.