For Reel

The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
January 1, 2014, 9:51 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , , ,

Director(s): Michael Curtiz & William Keighley
5 Stars
The Adventures of Robin HoodA relic from an era when action adventures could still be colorful and unabashedly fun, The Adventures of Robin Hood has maintained its reputation as Hollywood’s most beloved swashbuckler and for good reason. Perhaps the most indispensable reason is Errol Flynn in his most iconic role. Flynn himself admitted that he wasn’t an actor of much range, however few actors could look so charmed by the very act of performing–his Robin is surely among the most joyous of screen characters, which is quite the surprise given a troubled production process. His charisma and winning smile removes him from the dour cynicism of later adaptations of the material (including Ridley Scott’s dreary retelling from 2010). He is well met by the ever-spectacular Claude Rains as Prince John, who plays the traitor with self-amusement and a defined effeminacy. On the page, the picture is a scrambled mess that pulls from various sources without much to hold it together, however what is remarkable is the way that directors Michael Curtiz and William Keighley (who was fired halfway through the production) efficiently breeze through one episode to the other, keeping each as exciting as the last. The climactic duel between Flynn and the treacherous Sir Guy of Gisbourne (Basil Rathbone) is an oft-cited masterpiece of swordplay, with the towering shadows of the combatants creating a dread-inspiring atmosphere for their deadly confrontation.

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