tilly_stratford: (Astaire: Wry smile)
[personal profile] tilly_stratford
Remember when I had that idea of watching all the major Robin Hood movie adaptions chronologically? Well many, many months later I got around to rewatching the second one on my list, the definite article, The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938).


Admittedly as a film it doesn't offer a lot of nuance or character growth, but the thing that makes it so enjoyable I think is how it has a real sense of progression. It's not a collection of loosely connected episodes like most Robin Hood adaptions tend to be, instead plot point B follows plot point A in a fairly satisfying manner. And even before becoming an outlaw, Robin is unmistakably Robin (not the blushing flower of the Fairbanks version) -- even clad in green and a master archer. This movie knows what you're here for and it gives it to you right away.

It goes through most of the essential story beats you'd expect too, but with a few twists to keep it interesting. It dispenses with the Robin-in-the-Crusades origin altogether; Sir Guy of Gisbourne (played by Basil Rathbone and his amazing eyelashes) is the main villain -- the Sheriff seems to mysteriously disappear halfway through the film; Will Scarlet is, much more than Little John (played by the same guy as in the Fairbanks version, by the way), established as Robin's companion, even before they're outcast; And Much the miller's son is middle aged and has a fairly important part in the plot (and is probably the most underrated part of the movie).

Sure it's got its problems. As mentioned earlier, there's not much storytelling finesse or subtlety. There are some questionable acting choices here and there (like Claude Rains -- usually an AMAZING performer -- queer coding Prince John so hard it becomes a little embarrassing). I'm not crazy about the wigs (Flynn's pristine Marcel waves bother me) and there's something about those costumes, man. For such a lavish production I can't understand making fabric choices that make your costumes look this cheap (so much sheen and bunching, so little texture).

But in the end any Robin Hood movie stands or falls on its lead actor, and Errol Flynn, with his mischievous grin and muscular thighs, carries it pretty darn well.
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March 2015


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