The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)

(On Cable TV, April 2018) Perhaps the best thing about 1938’s The Adventures of Robin Hood is how it doesn’t feel like a 1938 film at all. You can credit the colour for that: One of the first big movies shot in Technicolor with decent image detail, it’s visually distinct from other movies of the time and would remain so for nearly two decades as colour took until the early sixties to truly become the standard. As a result, the film does feel as if it’s from the 1950s, something that director Michael Curtiz’s fast narrative pace helps support. The fantastic Errol Flynn plays the lead part with bravado and wit—the sequence in which he first confronts the enemy in their castle could be transposed with few modifications a modern superhero movie. Olivia de Havilland is nearly as striking as Maid Marian, but let’s be honest—this is Flynn’s film. The other reason why The Adventures of Robin Hood still feels so modern is that it has been endlessly re-used in other modern movies. Nearly every take on Robin Hood (notably the 1973 Disney version, 1991 Kevin Costner vehicle and 1993 Mel Brooks parody) has been inspired by this one, often to the point of re-creating scenes. It does make for a film that can be readily re-watched today with a considerable amount of fun, especially for audiences (kids, for instance) where black-and-white could be an obstacle.

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