Robin and the 7 Hoods (1964)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Robin and the 7 Hoods</strong> (1964)

(In French, On Cable TV, November 2018) Now Robin and the 7 Hoods is an interesting curio: A gangster musical, featuring Bing Crosby and the Rat Pack. Adding even more interest to the proceedings, the story is a retelling of Robin Hood in Prohibition-era Chicago. With a premise and cast like this, you can almost be forgiven for thinking that whatever is on-screen is a let-down from whatever idealized movie you could imagine. Depending on your taste, the film is either too talky, too long, not witty enough to fully capitalize on its potential, or to make good use of its long list of performers. Barbara Rush isn’t as good a Marian as she could have been, while we can quibble about the number of songs given to this or that actor/singer. All of this is true—Robin and the 7 Hoods is never mentioned as a major musical, and there’s a feeling that the material could be done quite a bit better. And yet … there are some really good moment in here. The highlight has to be the “Bang! Bang!” number featuring Sammy Davis, Jr. as a gun-crazy gangster shooting up the place. Another great sequence has a speakeasy transforming itself into a religious mission complete with gospel singers. Edward G. Robinson shows up briefly as an elderly gangster, while Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin (a bit wasted) and Bing Crosby (showing up too late) get to croon a few numbers. The colourful portrait of 1920s Chicago is a straight-up cliché, justifiably so in a silly musical comedy. I do wish Robin and the 7 Hoods would have been just a bit better, but I still had quite a good time watching it all. Just the thrill of discovery does account for much of it.

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