The Adventures Of Robin Hood Review

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Robin Hood and his merry men cause havoc to the Prince John, Sheriff of Nottingham and his bunch of cronies who are running England, in King Richard the Lionheart's absence, cruelly and corruptly.


After Grease and Star Wars, it is important that re-releasers admit the history of cinema didn't begin in the era of Jimmy Carter and the Osmonds. The Adventures Of Robin Hood first came out in 1938 and - whether you call it a swashbuckler, a costume adventure, a comic book romance or a historical jape - is simply the best of its type ever.

King Richard is off on the Crusades, leaving the kingdom under the rule of his rotten brother John, played by Rains as a waspishly witty tyrant who pauses outside a torture chamber to listen to groans and muse "Ah, more complaints about the new taxes from our Saxon friends". John's less amusing but more deadly sidekick is Sir Guy Of Gisbourne, incarnated with razor-profiled malice by the unmatchably ruthless Rathbone. And the fairest lady in the land is the King's niece Marian, as impossibly lovely (in pastel flesh-tones) as the young Olivia De Havilland could make her.

But it's the outlaw Robin Of Locksley who brings life into this court of intrigue, with Errol Flynn's jaunty goatee and Tasmanian twinkle making Robin a rare hero who can be a light-hearted japester one moment but spin on a knife-point to become a determined rebel leader ("It's injustice I hate, not Normandy!") and a balcony-climbing romantic.

It's amazing how fast-paced and jam-packed this is: the story is as complicated as a Shakespearean comedy and overrun with supporting characters, there's a real delight in the sword-clashing skirmishes and arrow-shooting battles, and it ends as all stories should with goodness triumphant and lovers united. Forget Kevin Costner, Michael Praed, Richard Greene and Disney's fox, this is the only real Robin Hood.

Errol Flynn buckles his swashes in this classic historical adventure.