Cool Things: The Adventures of Robin Hood

Welcome to the merry month of May! For a while we’ve been looking at some old, black and white movies that are still worth the watching today. There’s still plenty of those out there, and I’m sure we’ll go back and look at them in time, there are a number of older movies, that you may not have heard of, which have been disqualified simply because they were shot in color. Well no more! This month we’re going to look at four great old movies that just so happen to have been made after the transition to color cinematography. Our first example is thematically appropriate in two ways!

The Adventures of Robin Hood is, in my mind, the definitive version of the legend. Why?

Errol Flynn as Robin Hood. Basil Rathebone as Guy of Gisborne. Claude Raines as Prince John! Some of the greatest large scale battle sequences outside Cecile B. DeMille before the starfighter sequences of Star Wars. This film practically oozes with talent and creativity, even as it breaks absolutely no new ground in terms of plot or story.

If you know anything about Robin Hood you already know the basics of this tale. The Good King is in exile, the Evil Prince oppresses the people, the Hero arises and fights the injustice. Hero gets caught but is saved with the help of the Heroine. In the end, the Good King returns and justice is done. It’s not The Downfall of The Lord of the Rings and the Return of the King because not all struggles are on that scale. Sometimes evil is petty and mean and transient and we wonder not if it will ever pass, but why it’s come right now and why it won’t leave us alone.

This movie shines in the strength of the actors. Everyone, from Much the Miller’s Son and Friar Tuck to the nameless knights at Prince John’s table, is given a solid reading. Even the cheesier lines are heartfelt. Flynn is swashbuckling incarnate, even more so than his Zorro counterpart, Tyrone Power. And Rathebone… he’s everything you could ever want in a villain. A razor sharp spring waiting to explode out and slash through anything that gets in his way.

They fight, of course. I could talk about it for hours, but it’d be better if you watched it for yourself.

The next best thing, after the actors, is the eye candy. The costume work, outdoor locations and all the set pieces in this movie are beautiful. Technicolor was a new technology at the time and the images don’t really have the same quality as modern day cameras would provide but even now it’s still beautiful. It’s almost like a watercolor painting brought to life.

Most importantly, it’s fun. Lots of fun. Sure, this story has it’s dark moments. All the good stories do – how could the joy at the end be as joyful if there weren’t a few dark times along the way? But it’s still more than worth it.

There’s nothing here that you haven’t seen somewhere else. But rarely will you see it like in The Adventures of Robin Hood. Check it out.

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