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"The Adventures of Robin Hood"

Directed by Michael Curtiz and William Keighley.
Written by Norman Reilly Raine and Seton I. Miller. 
Starring Errol Flynn, Basil Rathbone and Claude Rains. 
Release Year:  1938 
Review Date:  8/26/03


You are right, this is FAR from new...but, a) I hadn’t seen it, and b) it was in theaters here in San Francisco this week, so I gotta review it!

“The Adventures of Robin Hood”, the 1938 tour de force featuring the greatest of movie swordsmen, Errol Flynn, is great in the way that films USED to be great--a sense of place with the hammy performances of many of the film’s actors, a sweeping musical score, plenty of action, a dame, and an ending that just...well, ends, like they used to before the Drawn-Out Fifteen Minute Ending starting to take over many Hollywood productions sometime in the mid-80s.  The story is exactly what you would think, and of course, it’s up to Sir Robin of Locksley (Flynn) to take gold from evil Prince John (Claude Rains) and give it back to the poor Saxons that are being oppressed because King Richard (Ian Hunter) is, well, a bit out-of-pocket, if you will!

This is my first Errol Flynn film, and in every way the swashbuckling legend delivers the goods.  Flynn just plays up the charm in every frame; scenes where he would just use his eyes to convey his mischievousness were hilarious, and one can see why the man never was noted for his acting skills.  He does, however, have the “je ne sais quoi” of a major film star--guys like his ability to handle a sword; ladies just love that famous smile.  He carries “Robin Hood” like a beast, giving every scene he is in a little something extra, that little something that directors probably tried to evoke out of him but really just waited to see come out during a take naturally.  In working with his frequent romantic co-star Olivia de Havilland (apparently, they did eight films together; nobody does that any more!) as Maid Marion, the twosome are fun to watch.  Flynn’s sword-handling is unquestioned, and in the film’s best action sequence during a swordfight with rival Sir Guy (Basil Rathbone), Flynn shows off some pretty good moves and the cinematics of the way this scene is shot are very cool indeed.  I also love when guys don’t have stunt doubles, and it looked like Flynn was doing most of his stunts in the film.  Oh, we like that a lot!

My only problems with “Robin Hood” come from the ridiculous performances by the other members of Robin’s team of bandits; namely, you have your requisite roles with Friar Tuck, Little John and a guy named Will, whose main purpose in life is to play the guitar.  All of them, plus various members of Robin’s jolly gang, don’t have much to do and they are mostly played as throwaways, which makes watching those scenes fairly tough.  When Little John and Robin meet for the first time (once again as both are trying to cross a log suspended over a pond), Will goes to a perch nearby and just starts playing the guitar while looking like he is trying to put on a fake smile for 15 minutes...and, it just comes off as the cheesiest shit ever.  You almost expect him to start dancing, but thankfully he doesn’t; that kind of stuff could destroy a lesser film.

But, this is “Robin Hood” we’re talking about!  Flynn saves the day and this one was a great time.

Rating:  $9.50 Show


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09