#18 – The Adventures Of Robin Hood (1938)

The Adventures Of Robin Hood


Directed by:  Michael Curtiz & William Keighley


Errol Flynn

Olivia DeHavilland

Basil Rathbone

Claude Rains




I was very young when first introduced to this movie (about 4 or 5 years old) and have loved it ever since! Robin Hood introduced me to the concept of Good vs. Evil. Robin Hood was always a hero of mine as he fought for the good and against evil. It’s pretty simple maths really. But he also had the gadgets of a sword, bow and arrow and fighting skills much like my other life heroes; Batman & James Bond. So there’s no reason not to like him or feel inspired by him.


This movie is so close to me I almost wasn’t sure of writing a review for it but my favourite cinema chain; Picturehouse screened the movie for their 2nd birthday and as I was watching it I couldn’t help analyse it in my head the whole time! It was a restoration so I knew I was going to be in for a treat. I recently bought it recently on blu-ray as it was available for the first time ever on that format but never got round to watching it. Then I found out about my cinema showing it and knew if I was going to watch it again after about 10 years then it would have to be on the big screen before watching it at home again. And man, this film looked magnificent!

I can still remember where all the ‘pops’ and ‘hisses’ from the actors’ speech were supposed to be from the VHS (Video Home System) version and I was both happy and annoyed about those audio problems being removed. It was like watching it for the first time due to the amount of time and effort the restorers have put into this version of the film. Everything was clean, ironed out, smoothed and sharpened.


The general plot of the film, is a bit loose as the genesis of Robin Hood is never shown to us in the movie. We just know he’s around, but one thing I never realised when watching this film as a child was that he’s actually ”Sir’ Locksley’, so he’s already a knight with a castle and land. We don’t actually see that but it’s told via dialogue throughout the film. And it’s little details like that, that you miss when you’re a kid, that makes these films even better to watch as an adult!


PLOT: It centers around the segregated feel of England between the Saxons and Normans which again was a theme that went over my head as a child. King Richard has gone to fight in the crusades (for further info about the crusades, I recommend the film Kingdom Of Heaven) and has left his close friend Lord Longchamp as regent of the throne instead of his brother Prince John.  Prince John then overtakes the throne and begins to raise taxes against the Saxons and cause unrest which Robin Hood uses as fuel to create a rebellion and defend England to restore it to what it was like before Richard left.


The story is fantastical! It pretty much starts off with action and doesn’t really stop. The down scenes aren’t particularly long and every scene used in the film is absolutely essential to the movie. Again, watching this film as an adult, I’ve realised how the dialogue actually pushes the story along instead of just the action (which was what i was mesmerised by as a child to be honest 😉 ).


There’s not much backstory to the characters but because of what the plot of the film is, you don’t need much backstory. Each character is introduced at a steady pace and for the supporting characters, they are given enough screen time in their introductions to not need much more later in the film and are just used as background artists. So that by the end you can pretty much put a name to every character you see in any shot.


As I said above, Robin Hood has always been a hero of mine in any reincarnation, particularly this version as it was the first time I was made aware of him as a person. But I haven’t seen this film for more than 10 years that my main memory of it is when watching it as a child. It’s strange watching it again as an adult and actually understanding the plot and paying attention to what the characters are saying (particularly the expository writing frames that pop-up periodically in the film) as when you’re a kid you tend to listen to the sounds the characters are making and not really taking in any narrative. The last time I saw this film was on VHS and the video and sound quality was a lot poorer to this restored version so I was able to differentiate the sounds to what I was used to as a child to what was actually being said when watching as an adult.


One of the things about this film that really sticks out is the sound effects. It’s FAR superior to most films of the time which were probably using superior technology and possibly ahead of it’s time as well.

Another aspect of this film that stands out is the score. The music really pushes this film along (which it doesn’t need, but an action/adventure film without a score wouldn’t be very entertaining). But the music is so grand and huge it makes the film feel a lot more than your average ‘Hollywood’ film from the ‘Golden Age’ of movie-making.


The fast-paced feel of this film must have felt so refreshing and new to the audience of the time as it feels like a combination of a western and pirate film combined set in a Medieval backdrop. Most of the actors do their own stunts which is quite rare to see as there probably wasn’t much money around in those days and I’m sure insurance for actors was almost non-existent to what it is now for when an actor does their own stunts!


For a fan of classic films, well written dialogue, real-actor stunts and large scale action scenes with no CGI, they should get this movie and I’m sure it’ll open your movie-world up to a whole new era of films!



My Rating – 8/10  |  IMDB – 8/10  |  Rotten Tomatoes – 100%





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