"Welcome to Sherwood!"

Classic swashbuckling adventure film, released in 1938. It was directed by Michael Curtiz and William Keighley (Curtiz took over because the producers weren't happy with Keighley's work) and written by Norman Reilly Raine and Seton I. Miller. Hal B. Wallis was the producer, and Tony Gaudio and Sol Polito were the cinematographers. It starred Errol Flynn as Robin Hood, Olivia de Havilland as Maid Marian, Basil Rathbone as Sir Guy of Gisbourne, Claude Rains as Prince John, Patric Knowles as Will Scarlett, Eugene Pallette as Friar Tuck, Alan Hale as Little John, Melville Cooper as the Sheriff of Nottingham, Ian Hunter as King Richard, Una O'Connor as Marian's maid, Bess, Herbert Mundin as Much the Miller's Son, and Montagu Love as the Bishop of the Black Canons.

The movie was nominated for Best Picture (it lost to "You Can't Take It with You") and won Oscars for Best Art Direction for Carl Jules Weyl, Best Film Editing for Ralph Dawson, and Best Original Score for Erich Wolfgang Korngold.

I haven't seen every Robin Hood movie out there. Frankly, outside of the Disney cartoon, I've only seen snippets of most of the recent films about Sir Robin of Locksley. But I can say, without a trace of doubt, that this is the best version of the Robin Hood legend ever made. It has all the high points that you expect. It has Robin's quarterstaff duel with Little John, it has Robin's swordfight with Friar Tuck, it has the archery contest, with Robin splitting the arrow, it has Robin throwing back his head and laughing loudly, it has romance and intrigue and derring-do galore. It has Errol Flynn, the patron saint of the swashbucklers, doing the stunts, sword battles, and quips we expect. It has Rathbone and Rains acting deliciously evil. It has one of the classic Flynn/Rathbone fencing duels, up and down stairs, over and under tables and chairs, in shadow and in light. It has Hale (reprising his role from a silent film from 1922) and Pallette verbally sparring with each other. It has everything you want in a good swashbuckler, except for Johnny Depp. Go watch it now. Now, damn you, now!

Favorite Trivia Bits: the lead role was originally going to be played by... James Cagney. Maid Marian's horse later got cast as Trigger, Roy Rogers' horse. And most of the archery stunts were performed by the production's archery instructor, Howard Hill, who was allowed to actually shoot the actors and stuntmen with real arrows (they were wearing heavily padded costumes and got paid an extra $150 per arrow). Hill also played the captain of the archers in the archery duel, and the scene where Robin splits the arrow was actually done, in one take, with no trick photography or special effects, by Hill.

Research from the Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com).

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