Blog Directory CineVerse: Now that's some sweet swashbuckling

Now that's some sweet swashbuckling

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Years ago, Mel Brooks made another of his famous movie genre spoof films, "Robin Hood: Men in Tights," this time applying the parody spotlight to romantic adventure films – particularly "The Adventures of Robin Hood" from 1938 starring Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland. While Brooks' effort proved to be mediocre at best, the source material on which it was based remains unimpeachable. That's because it's just plain hard to find fault with a fairytale film that mixes elements of colorful superhero bravado with children's storybook charm – a motion picture with an endless supply of kinetic energy, interesting characters, and old school stunts. Consider these finer points about the film, discussed last evening with our CineVerse group:

It was the first English-speaking Robin Hood talkie – previously, there was a silent version from 1922 – and the first created in color.
It was Warner Brothers’ first film shot in the expensive three-strip Technicolor process.
It was the only Robin Hood film version ever nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award.
It marked one of 12 occasions when Flynn was directed by Michael Curtiz and was the fifth of nine films that Flynn would costar in with Olivia de Havilland.
It is considered by many to be not only the greatest Robin Hood story ever filmed, but arguably the finest swashbuckler movie of them all.
It signified a departure for Warner Brothers, known previously for gritty urban crime pictures, social problem films, and Big Apple musicals, and represented their biggest budgeted production up to that point.
Its original music by Erich Wolfgang Korngold ranks number 11 on the American Film Institute’s list of the top 25 greatest film scores.
It proved to be extremely popular with Great Depression-era audiences and seemed to benefit from the opportune time in which it was made; blogger Tim Brayton suggested the following: “There’s little if any chance that this movie could have been made outside of the very small window between 1935 and the outbreak of the Second World War… Later generations of filmmakers would more and more come to privilege realism.”
For as fantastically garish and exaggerated it is in storytelling, characters, colors and pageantry, critics and audiences also appreciated the thrilling stunts and lavish attention to detail – supposedly the actors used unblunted sword points in their dueling and swordplay, and Flynn performed many of his stunts himself.
This is a stellar example of perfect casting: it’s hard to envision anyone else but Flynn playing this role, especially at this time period, and by this time he had been indelibly linked with de Havilland on-screen; consider, too, the embarrassment of riches in the supporting cast – Claude Raines, Basil Rathbone, Patrick Knowles, Alan Hale, and Eugene Pallette.
This is a prime example of a film that benefited greatly from the studio system in the classic Hollywood period, during which studios pumped out masterpieces or near masterpieces in assembly line fashion and tapped a rich vein of in-house and external contract players and resources, many of which they borrowed from other studios. Because studios like Warner Brothers had perfected this craft to a finely tuned but utterly efficient science, they could churn out high-quality product on a regular basis with consistent results.
Roger Ebert theorized that this film is so effective because it keeps things relatively straightforward. He said: “The movie knows when to be simple. And it is the bond between Robin and Marian, after all, that stands at the heart of the movie. The ideal hero must do good, defeat evil, have a good time and win the girl. The Adventures of Robin Hood is like a textbook on how to get that right… Their love scenes, so simple and direct, made me reflect that modern love scenes in action movies are somehow too realistic; they draw too much on psychology and not enough on romance and fable.”
Arguably, this picture contains the greatest and most memorable sword fighting sequence in film history.

Other film adaptations of the Robin Hood legend, including the 1922 Robin Hood starring Douglas Fairbanks, Robin and Marian starring Sean Connery, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves starring Kevin Costner, and Robin Hood starring Russell Crowe
Other swashbuckling adventures starring Errol Flynn, including Captain Blood and The Sea Hawk
The Prince and the Pauper 
The Mark of Zorro
The Star Wars films, with their light saber battles and derring-do adventures

The Mystery of the Wax Museum
Captain Blood
Angels With Dirty Faces
The Sea Hawk
Yankee Doodle Dandy
Mildred Pierce
Life With Father
White Christmas

  © Blogger template Cumulus by 2008

Back to TOP