Giving to the poor and stealing from the rich would surely create a horrid loop of stealing from whoever appears to be well-off and giving to those that have just been robbed. No such thought comes to the mind of Robin Hood, a swashbuckling forest explorer and good-hearted thief. The Adventures of Robin Hood was the second of a prominent many adaptations of a story that has been passed down from generation to generation. You’d think, by now, someone would have written it down. Folklore is fascinating, and that is how Robin Hood lived on. He is not turning men into stone, gobbling up children in a house of candy, he is merely swinging into castles, tearing the place a new one, and giving the gift of gold to good-natured farmhands.
Errol Flynn as the eponymous, green-clad lead is phenomenal. He is charming, suave and a firm character. He oozes optimism and respect for those that literally look up to him. In our first encounter with him, a bloody pauper looks up, a bow in hand, at the man who just saved him from a royal beating. Directors Michael Curtiz and William Keighley have good reason to make these characters, as well as us the audience, look up to Hood and his gang of rebellious troublemakers. But while Flynn is tirelessly pushing forth as a visual force to be reckoned with, this perfect blend of charm and cunning is not met by a worthy adversary. Surely the High Sherriff of Nottingham (Melville Cooper) could offer something greater, but he feels sidelined and underutilised. Cooper turns in a decent performance, but the all-black attire coupled to Alan Rickman’s is an immortal piece of iconography.
Many will know the story of Robin Hood and his merry men, but bringing it to life on the big screen brings exceptional variety and a keen versatility. The Adventures of Robin Hood, for instance, utilises the new and experimental inclusion of “colour.” That lavish and explorative utilisation of technicolour within The Adventures of Robin Hood is a stunning display of technical expertise. A sign of the times, and what was to follow would change film for the better. Curtiz and Keighley present a charming cast of characters, each playing up a story with simple notions and simpler relationships. That much will do for the all-green outlaw.
Hood believes he is overtaxed and overworked. Treason of the highest order to suggest such a change be made. It all crashes together soon enough, of course it does. Extravagant fight scenes and harsh heroism are interlaced in the dining hall brawls and acts of goodwill expressed by Hood. Flynn is the face of Hood, and as he throws props at people, leaps onto his horse and barrels away into the dark, there is a sense that he is the definitive face of the role. Many have taken up the brown boots and dark green cap, but none have carved it out as something they, and only they, can fill. It has filtered its way into the usual action and comedy specific imaginings, none blending both together as well as The Adventures of Robin Hood does.