The Adventures of Robin Hood
Until Richard Lester’s epic The Three/Four Musketeers films, this was my favorite of all swashbuckler movies. I had a high school friend, Jan Reynolds (sadly taken into that Great Reunion in the Sky) who was a rabid fan of Errol Flynn. He had practically memorized My Wicked, Wicked Ways: The Autobiography of Errol Flynn he had read it so many times. I think he wanted to be Errol Flynn. But of course so did many other high schoolboys. In the book is the story of how he fell in love with his co-star, Olivia de Havilland, along with many other scandalous tales, such as his romance with seventeen-year-old Beverly Aadland, who was with him when he died at age fifty, from a worn-out liver as well as other conditions. This was a man who lived hard. I don’t think he had any regrets. I hadn’t realized he was Australian, born in Tasmania, until I looked him up just now.
The film is great to look at, in glorious Technicolor (there is a documentary on the DVD about the Technicolor three-strip process, which ruled Hollywood until Eastman Color won out because it was cheaper. There are many, including myself, who think this was a mistake. The supporting cast is great, with Guy Kibbee as Friar Tuck, Alan Hale, Jr. as Little John, and Basil Rathbone as Guy of Gisborne, who is much more formidable character than the Sheriff of Nottingham. The plot … well, you all know the stories. The quarterstaff duel on the log, “Split the arrow in two!”, the return of Richard the Lionheart, who was a goddam no-show for most of his life, off fighting in his Crusades, and who was a real bloody murderer who got captured and had to be ransomed. See Richard Lester’s Robin and Marian to get a picture of this bastard who somehow has been re-written into a hero in most stories.