Robert of Nottingham, the son of Robin Hood, goes to the aid of the Queen Mother and the beautiful Lady Catherine, who are fleeing the cruel Regent, William of Pembroke, who has the King imprisoned in the castle. Robert, Catherine and Friar Tuck enter the guarded castle and free the King, but Robert and Catherine are captured. —Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
THE BANDIT OF SHERWOOD FOREST (George Sherman and Henry Levin, 1946) ***
Of the myriad epic adventures revolving around the legendary figure of Robin Hood, this is the one (despite the inherently low-key nature of it all) to come closest – in spirit, accomplishment and entertainment value – to the definitive 1938 Errol Flynn vehicle: I suppose it was mere coincidence that both had two directors assigned to them! For one thing, the look of the film is just as gorgeous (Tony Gaudio, one of the cinematographers involved, was also partly responsible for THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD) but the action is similarly zesty, the leads (Cornel Wilde – actually playing the Son Of – and Anita Louise) equally likable and well-suited, and the rogues' gallery (including Henry Daniell, George Macready and Ian Wolfe – even if, admittedly, only the first gets a character of any real substance) no less formidable. Of course, a good deal of the plot is familiar from previous versions – since the off-spring of the crusading outlaw goes through much the same paces as his father: from the initial antagonism between him and the leading lady, and also between him and Robin's band of "Merrie Men" (apparently, they fail to notice the comparable attire!), to the presence of a usurper on the throne (who not only comes face to face with the hero for the first time when the latter interrupts the Regent's banquet, but the villain even tries to ensnare Wilde via an archery contest which Robin Jr. attends – and wins – under heavy disguise!). The script does, however, supply its own exciting embellishments to the formula, such as devising an elaborate plan to rescue the child king from certain death at the hands of the tyrant eager to get him out of the way – while the expected storming-of-the-castle at the climax by the forces of good takes a back seat to the inevitable duel between Wilde and Daniell (which surprisingly occurs out in the open at nightfall). The supporting cast also includes the likes of Jill Esmond – the ex-Mrs. Laurence Olivier – as the Queen Mother (whose character disappears half-way through), Lloyd Corrigan (as the typically bumbling Sheriff of Nottingham), John Abbott (as Will Scarlet) and Eva Moore (so memorable as Rebecca Femm in my all-time favorite film, James Whale's THE OLD DARK HOUSE , relegated here to only a couple of scenes in one of her last roles). For the record, Wilde, Daniell and Macready would all appear in a number of other enjoyable swashbucklers over the years: interestingly, Daniell had previously dueled with Errol Flynn himself in THE SEA HAWK (1940), whereas Macready would eventually graduate to chief villain for this film's immediate follow-up i.e. ROGUES OF SHERWOOD FOREST (1950; which I actually watched early on in the year) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0042901/usercomments-2.
- Jan 24, 2010
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