4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking. Hollywood royalty Olivia de Havilland is alive & well, and celebrating her 102nd birthday today! In her honor, here are 4 shots from the films of Olivia de Havilland:
Readers of this blog know CASABLANCA is my all-time favorite movie, but THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD is definitely in the Top Ten, maybe even Top Five (I’d have to think about it… sounds like a future post!). The story’s been told on-screen dozens of times, from the silent 1922 Douglas Fairbanks swashbuckler to Disney’s 1973 animated version to the recent Russell Crowe/Ridley Scott offering. But it’s this 1938 classic that remains definitive, thanks to a marvelous cast, breathtaking Technicolor, and the greatest cinematic swordfight in history.
You all know the legend of Robin Hood by now, so no need for a recap. Instead, I’ll go right into what makes this film so great, starting with Errol Flynn as the brave Sir Robin of Locksley. Flynn was at the peak of his career here, after starring in such action-packed hits as CAPTAIN BLOOD , THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT…
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(For those following at home, Lisa is attempting to clean out her DVR by watching and reviewing 38 films by this Friday. Will she make it? Keep following the site to find out!)
Flamboyant. Athletic. Joyous. Determined. Handsome. Outspoken. Bigger than life. Revolutionary. Anarchist. Sexy. Libertarian. Is there any doubt why Errol Flynn remains the definitive Robin Hood?
And. for that matter, is there any doubt why the 1938 film The Adventures of Robin Hood remains not only the definitive Robin Hood film but also one of the most influential action films in history?
The Adventures of Robin Hood tells the story that we’re all familiar with. The King of England, Richard The Lionhearted (Ian Hunter), is captured while returning from the Crusades. His brother, King John (Claude Rains, in full autocratic villain mode), usurps the throne while Richard is gone and immediately raises taxes. He claims that he’s only doing this to raise the money to set Richard free. Of course, the real reason is that John is a greedy tyrant.
The only nobleman with the courage to openly oppose John is Sir Robin of Locksely (Errol Flynn). Sir Robin protects his fellow citizens from John’s main henchman, Sir Guy of Gisbourne (Basil Rathbone, also in full autocratic villain mode). In fact, Robin is so brave that, on multiple occasions, he even enters Sir Guy’s castle so that he can specifically tell King John and Sir Guy that he has no use for their laws. This, of course, always leads to Robin having to make a dramatic escape while arrows flies and swords are unsheathed all around.
And through it all, Robin Hood keeps smiling and laughing. He’s a wonderfully cheerful revolutionary. He may be fighting a war against a ruthless and unstoppable enemy and he may be the most wanted man in England but Robin is determined to have fun. One need only compare Robin to his humorless foes to see the difference between freedom and bureaucracy.
(We could use Errol Flynn’s Robin Hood today, though I suspect our government would just blow him up with a drone and then issue a statement about how, by stealing money from the rich and giving it to the poor, Robin was keeping the government from being able to rebuild bridges and repair roads.)
When Robin isn’t exposing the foolishness of organized government, he’s hanging out in Sherwood Forest. He’s recruiting valuable allies like Friar Tuck (Eugene Pallette) and Little John (Alan Hale, Sr.) He’s playing constant pranks and promoting revolution and, to his credit, he’s a lot more fun to listen to than that guy from V For Vendetta. He’s also romancing Maid Marian (Olivia de Havilland) and good for him. Two beautiful people deserve to be together.
Even better, he’s doing it in glorious Technicolor! There’s a lot of great things about The Adventures of Robin Hood. The action scenes are exciting. The music is thrilling. The film is perfectly cast. Errol Flynn may not have been a great actor but he was a great Robin Hood. But what I really love about the film is just the look of it. We tend to take color for granted so it’s interesting to watch a film like The Adventures of Robin Hood, one that was made at a time when color film was something of a novelty. For those of us who spend a lot of time talking about how much we love old school black-and-white, The Adventures of Robin Hood is a film that says, “Hey, color can be great too!”
But what I mostly love about The Adventures of Robin Hood is just the pure joy of the film. Just compare this Robin Hood to the grimly tedious version played by Russell Crowe.
(True, nobody in The Adventures of Robin Hood shouts, “I declare him to be …. AN OUTLAAAAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWWW!” Actually, now that I think about it, Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood would have worked much better if Oscar Isaac and Russell Crowe had switched roles.)
The Adventures of Robin Hood was nominated for best picture and it probably should have won. However, the Oscar went to Frank Capra’s You Can’t Take It With You.
So, what did you do on Sunday night?
Myself, I watched The Adventures of Robin Hood on TCM. There I was, watching the film and posting comments on twitter about how superior Errol Flynn’s Robin Hood was to Russell Crowe’s when suddenly I realized that a lot of very strange tweets were appearing on my timeline.
One person tweeted, “WHAT THE FUCK, GAME OF THRONES!?”
Another tweeted: “OMG! #GoT”
And my personal favorite: “no, no, no, no, no #GameOfThrones.”
Later, I discovered that these people were reacting to the Red Wedding on Game Of Thrones. I have been using twitter since 2009 and I have never before seen so much anger and sadness as I did last night after the Starks were massacred on HBO.
Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy Game Of Thrones and I DVR every episode but, at that moment, I was really happy to be watching The Adventures of Robin Hood.
Whenever I watch The Adventures of Robin Hood, I think about one of my favorite Monty Python skits, the story of Dennis Moore, the highwayman who attempts to steal from the rich and give to the poor and discovers that the redistribution of wealth isn’t as easy as he originally figured.
Or, as the Dennis Moore theme song puts it: “He steals from the poor and gives to the rich … Stupid bitch!”
In honor of The Adventures of Robin Hood, I figured why not share this classic skit? If nothing else, maybe a little absurdist comedy is just what the doctor ordered for those of you who still haven’t recovered from the Red Wedding…