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The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) Poster

Trivia

Jump to: Cameo (1) | Spoilers (6)
During one fight sequence, Errol Flynn was jabbed by an actor who was using an unprotected sword - he asked him why he didn't have a guard on the point. The other player apologized and explained that the director, Michael Curtiz, had instructed him to remove the safety feature in order to make the action "more exciting". Errol Flynn reportedly climbed up a gantry where Michael Curtiz was standing next to the camera, took him by the throat and asked him if he found that "exciting enough".
Erich Wolfgang Korngold was invited by Warner Brothers to come from his native Austria to Hollywood to see the film with a view to scoring it. He initially turned down the chance as he felt that his musical style was ill-suited for adventure spectaculars. However, while in Hollywood, he learned that the Nazis were about to invade Austria and, feeling he had to secure a source of revenue in the United States, he accepted the assignment. He would go on to win the Oscar. For the rest of his life, Korngold, grateful of how this successful assignment allowed him to stay in America and safe from the Nazis' murderous persecution would playfully quip, "Robin Hood saved my life."
The production used all 11 of the Technicolor cameras in existence in 1938 and they were all returned to Technicolor at the end of each day's filming.
Howard Hill, who is listed in the credits as "Captain of Archers", also played "Elwyn the Welshman" in the archery contest. Hill actually made the shot where we see one arrow split another and he did all the shots which required hitting human targets. He also worked closely with the sound department to produce the distinctive arrow sounds by using specially made arrows.
The sound of Robin's arrow is the favorite sound of Skywalker Sound's Ben Burtt. He has used that sound in almost all the Star Wars films.
The golden palomino that Olivia de Havilland rides in this film is Trigger, shortly before he became the mount of Roy Rogers.
Although shot in California, indigenous English plants were added and the grass was painted to give a greener, more English look.
At 28, Errol Flynn was the youngest actor to play Robin Hood.
While filming Robin Hood's escape from the castle, actor Basil Rathbone was knocked down and trampled by extras, causing a spear wound in his right foot which required eight stitches to close.
The Sir Joseph Hooker Oak (called the Gallows Oak in the film) where Robin Hood forms his outlaw band was supposedly the largest living oak tree in the world at the time of filming in 1937. The rock that Errol Flynn stands on in front of the tree is a prop.
The stunt players wore heavy padding underneath a steel breastplate overlaid with some balsa wood to absorb the impact of arrows.
Maid Marion is never referred to by that name in this film. She is referred to as "Lady Marion Fitzwalter" twice, once in the banquet scene and the second time by Sir Guy just before she hands the Golden Arrow to Robin Hood.
Despite his flamboyant performance as Robin Hood, Errol Flynn privately professed that he found the role a boring one.
William Keighley had directed Errol Flynn the year before in The Prince and the Pauper (1937), which had turned out well for Warner Brothers. The studio had high hopes for this second teaming, but upon viewing the dailies coming in from the location shoot in Chico, California, they found the action scenes to be lacking in vigor and excitement. Michael Curtiz, who had effectively made Flynn a star with his agile handling of the actor in Captain Blood (1935) and cemented his reputation as a swashbuckling hero in The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936), was brought in to complete the picture. Consequently when Keighley returned to Hollywood from Chico, he found himself out of a job. Ironically, Keighley and Flynn got along quite well, but Curtiz and Flynn despised each other.
At the time Olivia de Havilland rode the palomino, its registered name was "Golden Cloud" and was owned by Hudkins Stables, an outfit that leased horses and Western equipment for films. Roy Rogers bought "Golden Cloud" for $2,500. Character actor Smiley Burnette, who was Rogers' sidekick in his early movies, suggested the name of Trigger, as the horse was "quick-on-the-trigger". Rogers rode Trigger in his first starring Western, Under Western Stars (1938).
In an effort to assuage the Production Code Administration, aka the Breen Office - which was the official censorship authority at the time and was coming down especially hard on Warner Bros.' popular gangster films - the studio gave the go-ahead for this project, figuring that a harmless historical tale wouldn't cause them to run afoul of the censors.
Maid Marian is from not an original Robin Hood ballad, but from the French romantic ballad "Jeau Robin et Marian" (Play of Robin and Marian). Robin was not Robin Hood but a shepherd, and Marian was a shepherdess whom he loved.
Originally budgeted at $1.6 million, the budget eventually ballooned to $2 million, the most expensive Warners film to date, but it turned out to be the studio's biggest money-maker in 1939, making back far in excess of its cost.
The second of eight films to feature Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland.
According to TCM host Robert Osborne, the film was so successful that a sequel was commissioned. However, the U.S. government wanted to restrict the amount of money invested in filmmaking at that point in anticipation of joining World War II, so it was delayed. By 1945, when the war was over, the project was scrapped because Olivia de Havilland and Claude Rains were no longer employed at Warner Bros.
Olivia de Havilland has only one scene in which she is not wearing a headpiece.
The preview audience reaction was so positive that the film was released without any alterations to the plot.
James Cagney was the studio's original choice for Robin Hood. But when Cagney walked off set, the film's producer Hal B. Wallis made the decision to cast Errol Flynn, against Warner Bros' wishes. It was also Wallis' decision to keep Maid Marian, when the original scriptwriter wanted to dump her character. Wallis felt Marian was an indispensable fixture of a Robin Hood adventure.
All of the bows and arrows used in the film were hand-made by expert fletcher and archer James Duff of Jersey City, New Jersey. Mr. Duff was an immigrant from Scotland, and author of the book of poetry, 'Bows and Arrows' from 1927.
The role of Will Scarlett was originally intended for David Niven, but he was vacationing in England at the time, so the part went to Patric Knowles.
At the time this film held the distinction of employing the largest number of stuntmen on any one production.
Douglas Fairbanks Jr. turned down the role of Robin Hood because he didn't want to be viewed as aping his father Douglas Fairbanks's starring role in Robin Hood (1922).
The studio files/records for this film are archived at the USC Cinema Television Library. Interoffice memos clearly indicate that Olivia de Havilland was not the first choice for the role of Marion. The original actress, whose name is blacked out in each of documents, became pregnant out of wedlock, and could no longer accept the role.
Two scenes - a jousting tournament and a christening - were cut from the script to save money and were never filmed.
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Errol Flynn was not happy when Michael Curtiz was assigned to the film, as he didn't care for Curtiz's dictatorial methods and the two clashed often while filming The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936).
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Although this movie carries the VITAPHONE trademark, in fact, the sound was looped onto the film by a sound-on-film process. This was the result of Warner Brothers having to carry the trademark of the obsolete process until it expired.
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Originally planned with James Cagney playing the title role, but he quit Warner Bros. and production was postponed for three years.
Robin Hood kills 16 people over the course of the film, including 10 in the first battle alone.
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Originally set to open with an elaborate jousting sequence, just as Robin Hood (1922) did, but it was decided that this would be too expensive and the plans were scotched.
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The tune whistled by Little John before his fight with Robin is the medieval English round "Sumer is Icumen In".
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For the film's initial release in May 1938, an unusually elaborate, 8 minute full color trailer was produced, which unfortunately does not survive in the Warner vault. Only the reissue trailer (1948) is available now.
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On May 11, 1938, a special live radio broadcast of an extended selection of the important parts of the music score by Erich Wolfgang Korngold was presented by NBC coast to coast, with Basil Rathbone (who played Sir Guy of Gisbourne in the film) narrating the story and the composer himself conducting the Warner Brothers Studio Orchestra. This was the first time that a film score was performed in this way on radio, an unusual accolade for Korngold's remarkable score. Plans to release the broadcast on gramophone records were unfortunately abandoned, for reasons that are unclear. Private copies were made, of which only three are known to survive. An edited version of the broadcast has been issued on LP and CD.
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Eugene Pallette was not the first choice for the role of Friar Tuck. Guy Kibbee was originally slated for the part.
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At the time of its release, this was Warners' most expensive film, costing over $2 million.
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Erich Wolfgang Korngold used much of a classical piece he'd written in 1919 for his score.
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Wilfred Lucas as "Archery Official" and Halliwell Hobbes are in studio records/casting call lists as cast members, but they did not appear or were not identifiable in the movie.
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Robert Donat was offered the role of Robin Hood, but turned it down due to illness.
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Alan Hale appears as Little John in this film having earlier played the role in Robin Hood (1922) then reprises the role again in Rogues of Sherwood Forest in 1950, 28 years after his performance in the Fairbanks film, which is probably the longest period for any actor to appear in the same major role in film history.
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Michael Curtiz took over from director William Keighley when the producers felt that the action scenes lacked impact.
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German audiences will wait in vain for the notorious lines "You speak treason!" - "Fluently." In the German version, it is dubbed as "Ihr sprecht unbedacht!" - "Weiß ich." ("You speak before you think!" - "I know.") Probably they chose this quip (clever in its own right, but in a different vein than the original) because a more faithful translation would have lost the play on words completely.
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William Keighley was initially assigned to the project because he had made Warners' first excursion into three-strip Technicolor, when he directed God's Country and the Woman (1937).
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This film was originally intended as a much closer remake of Robin Hood (1922).
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Warner Bros. owned the rights to the original "Robin Hood" operetta, while MGM announced its intention to film a Robin Hood movie at the same time, based on the operetta, with Nelson Eddy as Robin and Jeanette MacDonald as Maid Marian. Warner Bros agreed, providing it could film a movie called "The Adventures of Robin Hood" with James Cagney as Robin. The MGM film was eventually abandoned.
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Orson Welles was offered the roles of Friar Tuck and King Richard, but he turned them both down.
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One of the areas of conflict or dislike between Flynn and Curtiz during this movie may have been because Flynn was married to Curtiz's former wife, Lili Damita.
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The swords used in the film were made of Duralumin, invented in 1908 by Alfred Wilm.
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Alan Hale reprises his role as Little John from Robin Hood (1922). He would later play the character again in Rogues of Sherwood Forest (1950).
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One of the original writers on the project was Rowland Leigh.
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The movie was filmed in Bidwell Park, Chico CA. A municipal park, it's the 3rd largest in California and one of 25 largest in the U.S.
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There is a children's play area in Bidwell Park in Chico, California called "Robin Hood Acres." Chico also has a "Warner Street" in honor of the studio.
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Cameo 

Sam Jaffe:  In the montage scene in which Robin's men spread word of the meeting at the Gallows Oak, the first serf who passes the message through the market place (wearing a hat and gray beard) appears to be the noted character actor in an uncredited cameo.
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

Heavily padded stunt players and actors were paid $150 per arrow for being shot by professional archer Howard Hill, who also played the captain of the archers, whom Robin Hood defeats in the tournament by splitting his own arrow. Splitting the arrow was Hill's feat, too, done in one take with no trick photography.
Although it is said that the tournament winning arrow shoots the other arrow in two, in fact when the arrow shot by Howard Hill strikes the arrow embedded in the target, it splits the arrow into three pieces. It sounds better to split something in half or in two, but the details in the movie are real and not just a saying.
The theatrical trailer contains footage of Robin and Marian kissing on horseback. This footage is from the deleted final scene of the film, immediately following the closing of the great doors, where the film now ends.
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One of the original story concepts had Robin Hood die at the end of the film.
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The ending that exists now in the film is not the one that was originally written. In the original ending, King Richard and his forces help battle Prince John's and Guy of Gisburne's forces outside the castle - this ending was scrapped because it was too expensive to film. In the back-up ending, Prince John and Guy of Gisbourne's forces chased Robin Hood's and King Richard's forces into Sherwood forest and the climax took place there. This second ending was really never satisfactory, and was scrapped too. Finally, a third ending was written, in which the climactic battle takes place inside the Castle of Nottingham. Now King Richard's forces could be pared down to a handful of faithful retainers, and the new ending proved to be less expensive to shoot. To prepare the audience for the new ending, the abbot's scenes were given to the Bishop of the Black Canons.
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A scene was filmed that was to have taken place before the scene where Will Scarlet comes riding into the forest clearing with Much the Miller's Son on his saddle. This was the scene where King Richard challenges Friar Tuck to a fistfight and wins, after which Robin himself agrees to fight King Richard. The scene was deleted from the final version of the film, making it appear that King Richard and Robin are about to fight for no reason.
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See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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