Sir Robin of Locksley, defender of downtrodden Saxons, runs afoul of Norman authority and is forced to turn outlaw. With his band of Merry Men, he robs from the rich, gives to the poor and still has time to woo the lovely Maid Marian, and foil the cruel Sir Guy of Gisbourne, and keep the nefarious Prince John off the throne. Written by
Little Pine Weasel <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The archery tournament was shot at the now gone Busch Gardens in Pasadena, CA, which was later used for the Wilkes plantation exteriors in Gone with the Wind (1939) , among many other films. See more »
When escaping from his hanging, Robin rides to the town gates and circles his horse twice. The first time, there is no sword attached to the saddle. The second time he circles, the sword is there and he uses it to cut the rope causing the gate to drop down. See more »
Town Crier announcing capture of Richard:
News has come from Vienna: "Leopold of Austria has seized King Richard on his return from the Crusades. Our king is being held prisoner. Nothing further is known. His Highness Prince John will make further public pronouncement tomorrow."
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Opening card: "In the year of Our Lord 1191 when Richard, the Lion-Heart, set forth to drive the infidels from the Holy Land, he gave the Regency of his Kingdom to his trusted friend, Longchamps, instead of to his treacherous brother, Prince John.
Bitterly resentful, John hoped for some disaster to befall Richard so that he, with the help of the Norman barons, might seize the throne for himself. And then on a luckless day for the Saxons..." See more »
Hardly high art but it is tremendous fun even after the better part of a century
When King Richard is captured while abroad, his treacherous brother Price John uses the situation as his opportunity to seize the title for himself. With his wicked ways he oppresses the people, boosts taxes, hangs those who refuses to pay them and generally rules with an iron fist. Out of this situation a hero arises, Sir Robin of Locksley, who forms a band of outlaws to disrupt the actions of Prince John's men and steal the money back that they have stolen from the citizens of the land. However with Guy of Gisbourne and the Sheriff of Nottingham, Prince John makes plans to capture Robin and make an example out of him but they've got to find him first!
This film often sits high on many critics' lists along side many films that would be considered worthy because they would be called 'art' or generally be classic films in the traditional sense; indeed this film also sits high on the top 250 list on this site and long may it continue to do so! Although this film is hardly the sort of stuff that the high-brow critic would pick in his top 100 list, the fact that it usually appears there says a lot for just how good it is not as a classic and deep piece of art but as a really enjoyable adventure film. We all know the basic story and the film sticks to it well although to be honest I can never remember if I know it from this film or from the legend itself! The plot is engaging but it is the manner of delivery that makes this film so much fun to watch.
The action is hardly groundbreaking (how could it be after 60+ years?) but given that it isn't based on effects, it has stood up really well and is enjoyable to watch it's an overused term but the action here is what I would define as 'swashbuckling' fun! For my money the even better aspect of the film is that it manages to take this vein of good clean fun and run it through the entire film. Most enjoyably for me was the dialogue that was often laugh out loud funny some lines were hardly of the period but were funny none the less! Outside of the comedy in the dialogue, the film manages to retain the sense of fun in all but the odd darker scene. This sense of fun is passed through (and sustained by) the performances, which are led by a typically cocksure (pardon the pun) Errol Flynn. He plays Robin larger than life, and rightly so. He is tremendous fun in the lead and he is major part of making sure it all comes off. Rains has a minor role but he is not a straight bad guy and has a strange humour about it he may not have the ham that Alan Rickman would later bring to the role but he does it very well nonetheless. Playing a more traditional bad guy was Basil Rathbone a good actor and made all the more enjoyable performance for me because I rarely see him in anything but the Holmes movies. De Havilland is pretty but doesn't make much of an impression as Marion but luckily Robin's merry men are roundly good with fun performances from Pallette, Hale, Knowles and others.
Overall this is a great film not because the story is really deep or the special effects are astounding but simply because it is a really fun (and funny) swashbuckling adventure. With a real sense of fun running though the script, the cinematography (and wondrous Technicolor), the dialogue and the performances this film has stood up effortlessly over the past 60+ years and it will continue to do for long after my generation are dead and buried and other ones come to discover it.
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