15 January 2002 | BrianDanaCamp
Lex Barker takes a break from Tarzan to play Robin Hood
ROBIN HOOD AND THE PIRATES (1960) is an enjoyable Italian costume adventure with a particularly fanciful rendition of the Robin Hood tale, set entirely in a Mediterranean 'Sherwood,' with the pirates of the title, standing in for the Merry Men, camping out in a 'forest' that looks suspiciously like a beach. (The waves hitting the sand are a dead giveaway.) Interestingly, the place marker for Sherwood reads 'Conten di Sherwood.'
Lex Barker, a former Tarzan (1949-53), cuts a striking figure in a traditional Robin Hood outfit and wields a mean sword and bow and arrow as he battles the usurper, Lord Brooks, who killed his father and took over Sherwood. Robin's aligned with a group of shipwrecked pirates who offer some half-hearted help at various times and includes a multi-racial group of 'Saracen' women, led by a hefty black woman named Bambola, who prefers to be called 'Sweetpea' and is played by American singer Edith Peters. She speaks with an American southern accent, despite the fact that the American South was still hundreds of years in the future at the time this film is set. However, she sings a song in Italian at one point and develops a yen for the equally hefty white pirate captain, 'One-Eye' (played by American actor Walter Barnes). Peters had performed in the U.S. in the 1940s with her sisters in a trio called, appropriately enough, the Peters Sisters.
The Vienna-born Jackie Lane plays Robin's impassioned love interest, Karin Blain. Lord Brooks keeps trying to marry her and Robin Hood keeps rescuing her, until the final melee involving all the townsfolk, pirates and the Lord's knights. Lord Brooks's daughter, Lisbeth (played by Rossana Rory), complicates things by desiring Robin herself. The stunning Miss Lane appeared in a wide range of films in England and Europe in the 1950s and early '60s and was also known as Jocelyn Lane during a lengthy Hollywood stint in the mid-to-late '60s, which included playing opposite Elvis Presley in TICKLE ME (1965). Her first film happened to be an earlier Robin Hood film, MEN OF SHERWOOD FOREST (1954).
The film is nicely photographed on location at a genuine castle situated atop a seaside cliff. The tone of the film is lighthearted in the manner of some of the old Hollywood swashbucklers, with the pirates and Bambola providing comedy relief, while filled with sufficient swordfighting, horse-riding and castle wall-climbing action to keep even the genre's most jaded fans happy.