I think we all know the basic story in The Adventures of Robin Hood by now. The rightful king of England, Richard the Lionheart, is kidnapped by another country as he attempted to return home from the Crusades. Richard's slimy brother, John (Claude Rains), has been temporary ruler of the land for some time, and has enjoyed living a life of luxury while oppressing the Saxon lower classes. When he hears of his brother's trouble abroad, John takes it upon himself to raise taxes to pay for Richard's ransom.
|If this was a movie trailer, you would have heard a record scratch after I typed that|
|And by "topple," I of course mean "impale"|
Okay, so my first impression of The Adventures of Robin Hood wasn't that great. It's certainly not bad, but it failed to impress me the same way that contemporary films like Pepe le Moko, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, or even another epic like Gunga Din. I have my suspicions as to why that is, but I'll wait a bit to explain.
|Hint: it has nothing to do with silly hats|
The acting in The Adventures of Robin Hood is okay for the time period, but not remarkable on the whole. Errol Flynn is naturally who you picture when you think of this movie, but there is something about his performance that doesn't click with me. Flynn's action scenes were pretty good for the time period and it appears that he did many of his own stunts, so I like him in those bits. It's the abruptness of his performance elsewhere that just felt odd to me. He would go from a feisty political rant to hands-on-his-hips-head-tilted-back laughter at a moment's notice. I will admit that Flynn looks like he's having fun on-screen, but he comes across more as an egomaniacal jerk than a hero to me.
|Great. Now I've hurt his feelings.|
|"Why, you're in Technicolor, too!"|
Two men get credit for directing The Adventures of Robin Hood. William Keighley was hired first, but was eventually replaced by Michael Curtiz when the producers were not impressed by the action scenes. And yet, enough of both men's work made the final cut to justify co-director credits, which is odd. I can definitely attest that some of Curtiz's action direction worked well; the sword fighting scenes in the castle are still a standard for sword fights in film. Personally, I would have rather seen less fencing swordplay and more Princess Bride-style fighting, but it's still good, especially for the era. I don't like that many action scenes are sped-up to look faster, but Flynn is clearly at his best in these sequences.
|"You are using Bonetti's Defense against me, eh?"|
Everything about this movie screams "epic," for better or worse. To go along with the huge scale, the acting performances are also very broad. Here's the thing about the acting in The Adventures of Robin Hood: the supporting cast is playing to fit Errol Flynn's lead. If you don't like how he delivers his lines or reacts to certain things, the supporting cast isn't going to impress you, because they are more or less props for Flynn to dash around. This is not a subtle movie that wins you over through clever dialogue or interesting camera techniques. This is a Hollywood blockbuster, dedicated to spectacle. In that, it is successful. But there are so many moments in The Adventures of Robin Hood that are not epic, and that is where this film stumbles.
|Another mistake: introducing cat-style grooming to romances|