11 April 2004 | DarthBill
Errol Flynn VS Basil Rathbone, Round 2 I think
The other early romanticism take on the Robin Hood legend, aside from the silent Douglas Fairbanks version. This one puts famed Hollywood hell raiser pirate Errol Flynn in the title role of Robin Hood. As would be expected of that scoundrel/scallywag Flynn's famous devil-may-care-heroics, the Flynn Robin Hood outrightly refuses to support Prince John when he commits what Robin views as treachery - trying to get himself made king and abusing the land and the people in what may or may not be the aftermath of his older brother King Ricahrd the Lion-Hearted's death while battling in the crusades. After nearly getting killed by John and Gisbourne's men, Robin goes on the run, with Will Scarlet and along the way acquiring Much, Little John, a cantankerous Friar Tuck, and a whole army of merry men in tights. From there, he becomes the great outlaw we all know and love, fighting Gisbourne, the bumbling Sheriff and Prince John anyway which way he can and sweeps that adorable sweetie pie Maid Marion off her feet.
Sure the costumes may look fake today and the film itself overly colorful, but it's still a fun time. Sure Errol Flynn doesn't have a well articulated British accent either, but at least he doesn't sound like he's from the heart land of America. Flynn is certainly a lot quicker on his feet than Kevin Costner was, which comes in handy when you're in a duel to the death. Basil Rathbone is a fairly menacing Gisbourne, smarter than the Robert Addie or Michael Wincott versions (he looks kind of like Christopher Lee), and Olivia de Havilland is a very pretty Marion without being overly sexual and slutty about it (as was the case with many leading ladies back then). Out of the versions I've seen this is probably the only one where the Sheriff is an idiot and Gisbourne is the real menace (Gisbourne died early in the Kevin Costner verison of Robin Hood, and on TV's "Robin of Sherwood" he was just this weird neurotic guy, and I'm afraid I don't remember the Patrick Bergin version of Robin Hood very well).
There are least five big action sequences here, namely Robin's two escapes from Nottingham, an ambush in Sherwood Forest and the climax between Robin's & King Richard's men at Nottingham castle. Naturally, there is a duel to the death that features shadows on the wall going at it while the actors are off screen. Good stuff, especially for the children.