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Customer Review

83 of 87 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A "Classic" Restored, October 7, 2003
This review is from: The Adventures of Robin Hood (Two-Disc Special Edition) (DVD)
Although James Cagney was the original choice, Flynn proved to be the definitive Robin Hood. It is possible but unlikely that a better portrayal of the 12th century folk hero will ever be filmed. The screenplay is based on the works of Sir Walter Scott. The cast is superb. The direction crisp and sure, once Warner Brothers replaced William Keighley with Michael Curtiz. In the latest DVD version, both image and sound are restored to their original clarity. Apparently no expense was spared to give this film production values of the highest possible quality. Although renowned for his indelible portrayal of Sherlock Holmes, Basil Rathbone could just as easily play the villain which he does in this film as Sir Guy of Gisbourne. His climatic sword fight with Flynn allows both to match wits as well as blades as they make their way throughout the castle. This exciting sequence offers probably the best example of the talents of cinematographers Sol Polito and Tony Gaudio. Special credit should also be given to Erich Wolfgang Korngold's rousing musical score. He also composed the scores for two other films directed by Curtiz and starring Flynn, Captain Blood (1935) and The Sea Hawk (1940).
Given the rapid development of various digital technologies, we now tend to take special effects in films for granted. Almost anything seems possible. Not so 65 years ago when The Adventures of Robin Hood was filmed. Curtiz and his crew had to solve all manner of problems to recreate not only Sherwood Forest but an entire medieval society. What they achieved is stunning. Indeed, forests have played an important role throughout centuries of British literature, from Beowulf to Harry Potter. Being a child when I saw this film for the first time, I was enchanted by the idea of escaping into lush green woods where I could pretty much live the way I wanted to with my friends. Not have a care in the world. I envied Robin Hood and his companions. Many decades later, lush green forests still have for me a special appeal which I really can't adequately explain. Perhaps it all began with this film.
I am eager to observe the reactions of my grandchildren to the Two-Disc Special Edition. Of course, they will have little (if any) interest in the truly special features which include a commentary by film historian Rudy Behlmer, Warner Night at the Movies (1938) introduced by Leonard Maltin, a new documentary, Welcome to Sherwood (2003), outtakes and the studio's annual year-end blooper reel, a "Robin Hood Through the Ages" featurette, "A Journey to Sherwood Forest" travelog, another documentary Glorious Technicolor (1998), two shorts: "Cavalcade of Archery" (1946) and "The Cruise of the Zaca" (1952), "galleries" which display historical art, costume design, concept drawings, cast/crew photos, and publicity, and the audio only of "The Robin Hood Radio Show" and Korngold piano session.
However, I expect them to enjoy this film almost as much as their grandfather once did...and still does.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 6, 2010 7:52:04 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 6, 2010 7:58:14 AM PDT
Having just acquired a Sony Blu-Ray player, I came in search of the "spotlight" reviews for (as you put it) "the definitive Robin Hood." Lo and behold, this wonderful review by one of my "Top 20s" reviewers! It's out in Blu-Ray format (hooray).

Coincidentally, I just rented a copy of the latest incarnation of this classic tale -- with Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchette -- to watch tonight. Can't wait to see the 'original' though. Thanks, Robert Morris, for the balanced, informative beautifully-written appreciation for this one.

Mark B of the frozen North
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