Amid big-budget medieval pageantry, King Richard goes on the Crusades leaving his brother Prince John as regent, who promptly emerges as a cruel, grasping, treacherous tyrant. Apprised of England's peril by message from his lady-love Marian, the dashing Earl of Huntingdon endangers his life and honor by returning to oppose John, but finds himself and his friends outlawed, and Marian apparently dead. Enter Robin Hood, acrobatic champion of the oppressed, laboring to set things right through swash buckling feats and cliffhanging perils! Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
Fantastic production design which set the standard, and still probably does for Medieval epics. The Castle Fairbanks had constructed stone by stone, the costumes and the literal "cast of thousands" in the opening hour are second to none. Great attention to detail. The story itself however is half and half. Fairbanks was a great choice to play Robin Hood, it's just too bad we don't get to see him swing into action as the bandit of Sherwood until after a long, drawn-out first half concerning King Richard and Huntingdon (Robin) heading off for the Crusades. There is just too much time spent setting up how/why Huntingdon becomes Robin Hood to make it enjoyable as a purely Robin Hood movie. Errol Flynn's version improved on it by a mile in 1938, leaving out the fat and concerning itself only with Robin's adventures in Sherwood, and adding more heart and humor if not replicating the grand scale of pageantry depicted in this version.
Providing a link between both films, of course, is Alan Hale Sr. playing Little John. Again, his most preferable portrayal is in the '38 version. As far as other cast members, Wallace Beery is memorable as King Richard and Sam de Grasse is a perfectly snide Prince John. The other cast members are adequate enough.
The DVD edition of this film provides a very nice print and is well worth viewing if you enjoy old silents, or are a fan of the Robin Hood legend as I am. Many purists have complained about the musical soundtrack but not being an aesthete of Silent films myself I found it to be not too bad.
Not the classic version of Robin Hood on film but still, there are many things to like about it.
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