For March’s prompt I picked 1938’s “The Adventures of Robin Hood.” My first Errol Flynn film, well potentially my second if I count Cary Elwes performance as Westley in “The Princess Bride” who seems to be paying homage to Flynn’s acting. I went in completely blind, well as blind as you can be with the story of Robin Hood. Even though I knew the overall story the film was still a joy to watch. I was surprised by the film’s history and was shocked about it receiving a Best Picture nomination. Danny Perry thought it deserved the honor of Best Picture status over “You Can’t Take it With You” in his Alternate Oscars book. I had somehow completely missed this classic film, even though it was placed in the National Film Registry in 1995. Every aspect of the film is remarkable, the only part I’ve felt underwhelmed with was the score, which won an Oscar. I view that as a failure on my part as I’ve always struggled with film scores that were done prior to the mid 1950s. With its status as a classic film a lot has been written about it. I’m going to stick to the one part I thought was the most valuable part of the film and that honor goes to Errol Flynn. This guy was amazing as Robin Hood, the flair, the athleticism, the cockiness, he showed these and a variety of other attributes throughout the film. It’s an action/adventure/swashbuckling film, how much acting is really needed in these type of genres, you mainly let the action do all the work. Flynn puts in the work for this role and it’s probably the major reason this film is considered a classic.. There are two specific scenes that really show his acting range. First is the scene at the archery contest, even though he knows it’s a trap, his hubris and his infatuation with Marian get the best of him. Flynn acts the scene with such skill, as a viewer you can witness him analyzing the situation, he knows he is caught but the opportunity to be close to Marian is too strong. The second scene showing off Flynn’s acting ability is when Robin Hood is being hauled to his execution, the look on his face is one of despair, scoping the area for a potential escape route but slowly realizing he has nowhere to go. This mood is held until Robin gets up to the gallows and sees his men in the crowd. Creating a quick transformation that goes from despair to hope. This is done within a second, involving a change in facial expression and moving to an upright posture, the tone quickly changes which builds excitement within the scene. I’m giving lot of credit to Flynn but some of his co-stars deserve some credit. The chemistry shared between Flynn and Olivia de Havilland adds a raw emotion to the relationship in the film, which heightens some of the later scenes.. At first she despises Robin but slowly that attitude changes, and not just over one scene but throughout the movie, her dislike of him slowly turns into attraction. While the attraction includes personal attraction, part of her falling for Robin is related to his cause of helping the poor. That aspect of building characters seems so simple but seems so rare in films. Usually it’s at the drop of hat characters will switch sides or fall for another character. The romance between Robin and Marian builds slowly which adds depth to the story.
If you haven’t seen “The Adventures of Robin Hood” I highly recommend to put this on your watch list in the near future. I purchased the Blu-ray which has some nice features, especially one about Technicolor and a making of feature on the film. Errol Flynn will be go-to in the future. This year I will be adding “Captain Blood” to my Cinema Shame list, which is what put him on the radar for the Robin Hood role.
If you want to read more about “The Adventures of Robin Hood” I recommend @awolverton77 post about a recent screening: https://journeysindarknessandlight.wordpress.com/2018/03/02/the-great-movies-the-adventures-of-robin-hood-1938/.