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Friday, 27 July 2012

The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) - Star of the month... Olivia de Havilland

'The Adventures of Robin Hood' is a 1938 action adventure starring Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland with Claude Rains, Basil Rathbone, Alan Hale.

Olivia de Havilland & Errol Flynn
as Maid Marion & Robin Hood
'The Adventures of Robin Hood' is set in 1191, after King Richard the Lion-Heart gave the Regency of his kingdom to his friend Longchamps, instead of his treacherous brother, Prince John. Robin of Loxely and his merry band rob from the rich to feed the poor.

Despite the many different film versions of Robin Hood, this is still considered to be the definitive version, and the best, with the dashing Errol Flynn here to save the day in the ultimate swashbuckler, in possibly his greatest role.

'The Adventures of Robin Hood' was very fortunate to have been filmed in glorious Technicolor. This was because Technicolor was very expensive in the 1930s, with the major studios making one or two Technicolor films each year, with the smaller studios not making any. During this time there were only 11 Technicolor cameras in existence, which were shared among each studio.

The Story of 'The Adventures of Robin Hood'

In the early 1930s, Warner Bros. were renowned for producing gangster films. When the Hays Production Code came into effect in 1934, Warner Bros. sought to change this image by producing  swashbucklers. The film was almost cancelled due to 2 unforeseen issues...

The first issue... Screen legend James Cagney was initially intended to play Robin Hood, however Cagney walked away from Warner Bros. following a dispute, and was unable to appear in the film - Cagney returned to Warner Bros. 2 years later.

The second issue... MGM had secured the rights to a operetta version of 'Robin Hood', to star Jeannette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy. The compromise made between Warner Bros. and MGM was that Warner would call their film 'The Adventures of Robin Hood', and MGM would not release their film of 'Robin Hood' until a year after.

Having successfully resolved the MGM issue, Warner began to search for a new leading man to play Robin Hood. Following their successful pairing in 'Captain Blood' and several other films, it was decided Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland would again be reunited as Robin Hood and Maid Marion.

Did you know...

The only scene where Olivia de Havilland appears
without wearing a headpiece
  • David Niven had originally considered to play Will Scarlet
  • Anita Louise was originally considered to play Maid Marion
  • Guy Kibbee was originally considered to play Friar Tuck
  • At the time of its release, 'The Adventures of Robin Hood' was the most expensive Warner Bros. film made
  • Olivia de Havilland's horse (called Golden Cloud) was later play Trigger, the horse used by Roy Rogers in his many films
  • The extras appearing in the film were paid a daily salary and received a boxed lunch
  • King Richard's castle was partially built on the Warner Bros. film lot, with a matte painting above
  • All actors who were hit with an arrows wore special body suits under their clothing to absorb the arrow and prevent it from impaling their bodies
  • The earliest known film of 'Robin Hood' was made in 1908
  • The word Sherwood derives from "Shire of Wood"
  • Some scenes without principal actors were directed by William Dieterle
  • The scene in Maid Marion's bedroom is the only scene in the film where Olivia de Havilland is shown without wearing a headpiece
  • During World War 2, this was the most popular film shown to armed forces
  • The film was re-released in 1948 with a new promotional campaign, and then again in the mid 1950s
  • In 1977, 'The Adventures of Robin Hood' was the 5th most shown film on US TV, after 'Casablanca' (1942), 'King Kong' (1933), 'The Magnificent Seven' (1960) and 'The Maltese Falcon' (1941) 
  • 'The Adventures of Robin Hood' was first shown on TV in colour during the late 1960s
  • Alan Hale also played Little John in the 1928 film with Douglas Fairbanks, and in 'The Rogues of Sherwood Forrest'

Closing remarks

Olivia de Havilland and Errol Flynn are perfectly cast in this film, as are Claude Rains and Basil Rathbone, the two ultimate villain actors playing the two ultimate villain characters.

'The Adventures of Robin Hood' is a very special film, and I have seen it so many times, yet never get sick of it. Even after all these years, the film does not look dates and there is still something within this film with the ability to entertain virtually anyone. I challenge anyone to watch this film, and not enjoy it.

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