9 November 2007 | golden_years
Spirited and entertaining
Gordon Douglas's 1950 dip into the Son of Robin Hood formula turns out to be one of the most spirited and lively of all the swashbuckling Columbia pieces of matinée fodder of their 40s/50s heyday. Gordon Douglas is one of Hollywood's dark horses among genre (mostly action) directors: neither as reflective or consistently stylish in his mise-en-scene as Raoul Walsh nor as spectacular using scarce means as William Witney, his track record in this area is by no means slight. He has made several good westerns (The Doolins of Oklahoma, The Nevadan, The Great Missouri Raid, Only the Valiant, The Charge at Feather River, Yellowstone Kelly, Rio Conchos), two very tough James Cagney vehicles (Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye, Come Fill the Cup), a science-fiction classic (Them!) and an honorable romantic melodrama as a change of pace (the Doris Day/Frank Sinatra remake of Four Daughters, Young at Heart).
Rogues of Sherwood Forest may not have the voltage of the Errol Flynn/ Olivia De Havilland/Claude Rains/Basil Rathbone combo or even the authentic feel and quirky charm of Disney's Richard Todd/Joan Rice/Peter Finch version; but John Derek's energetic acrobatics, Diana Lynn's fetching and proactive Lady Maryanne, and George Macready's really vicious King John make this humble but red-blooded and fast-moving programmer compulsively watchable during its entire 80 minutes.