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The Adventures of Robin Hood

  (Redirected from The Adventures of Robin Hood (film))

The Adventures of Robin Hood is a 1938 American Technicolor swashbuckler film from Warner Bros., produced by Hal B. Wallis and Henry Blanke, directed by Michael Curtiz and William Keighley, that stars Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Basil Rathbone, and Claude Rains.

The Adventures of Robin Hood
Robin hood movieposter.jpg
DVD cover
Directed by
Produced by
Screenplay by
Music by
Edited by Ralph Dawson
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release date
  • May 14, 1938 (1938-05-14) (USA)
Running time
102 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $2,033,000[1][2]
Box office $3,981,000[1][2]

Written by Norman Reilly Raine and Seton I. Miller, the film concerns a Saxon knight who, in King Richard's absence in the Holy Land during the Crusades, fights back as the outlaw leader of a rebel guerrilla band against Prince John and the Norman lords oppressing the Saxon commoners.

The Adventures of Robin Hood has been acclaimed by critics since its release.[3] In 1995, the film was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation by the National Film Registry.[4]

Alan Hale, Sr., who plays Little John, had played the same character in the 1922 version of the film and went on to play him again in Rogues of Sherwood Forest, released by Columbia in 1950.[5]



After King Richard is taken Hostage by Austria, his devious brother, prince John conspires to take the throne and run England. Through repression of the Saxons and heavy taxes he makes life miserable for all those beneath him. Robin of Locksley steps in and begins helping those Prince John has repressed. Robin gathers other outcasts as himself and they form the band The Merry Men. where they continue to cause trouble for Prince John through a variety of means.

King Richard returns to England in secret. Prince John sends a disgraced knight to kill him so that he can take the throne once and for all. This back fires, as Robin Hood has also found King Richard and is protecting him. Through a plan of disguise and deceit they reveal Prince John's plans and King Richard banishes him from England.


Uncredited Cast


The Adventures of Robin Hood was produced at an estimated cost of $2 million, the most expensive film Warner Bros. had made up to that time.[7] It was also the studio's first large budget color film utilizing the three-strip Technicolor process.[Note 2][8] It was an unusually extravagant production for the Warner Bros. studio, which had made a name for itself in producing socially-conscious, low-budget gangster films,[9] but their adventure movies starring Flynn had generated hefty revenue and Robin Hood was created to capitalize on this.[citation needed]

James Cagney was originally cast as Robin Hood, but walked out on his contract with Warner Bros., paving the way for Flynn,[8] although filming was postponed three years.[10]

The film was shot on location in various areas of California. Bidwell Park in Chico stood in for Sherwood Forest,[11] although one major scene was filmed at the California locations "Lake Sherwood" and "Sherwood Forest", so named because they were the location sites for the 1922 Douglas Fairbanks production of Robin Hood. Several scenes were shot at the Warner Bros. Burbank Studios and the Warner Ranch in Calabasas. The archery tournament was filmed at the former Busch Gardens,[12] now part of Lower Arroyo Park,[13] in Pasadena.

Stunt men and bit players, padded with balsa wood on protective metal plates, were paid $150 per arrow for being shot by professional archer Howard Hill. Hill, although listed as the archer captain defeated by Robin, was cast as Elwen the Welshman, an archer seen shooting at Robin in his escape from Nottingham castle and, later, defeated by Robin at the archery tournament. To win, Robin splits the arrow of Philip of Arras, a captain of the guard under Gisbourne, who had struck the bullseye. An examination of the film images in slow motion led to speculation[who?] that the arrow split may have been made of bamboo and had been previously split, the parts being held together with small rings. Buster Wiles – a stuntman and close friend of Errol Flynn – maintains that the arrow splitting stunt was carried out using an extra large arrow (for the target) and that the second arrow had a wide, flat arrowhead and was fired along a wire. Wiles discusses the scene in his autobiography, My Days With Errol Flynn.

Hill can also be seen in the scene where Robin is rescued from the gallows as one of the Merry Men. Concealed in a wagon, he shoots a mounted man-at-arms, whose horse is instantly mounted by the bound Robin Hood and ridden to the city gate.

Korngold's music scoreEdit

In 1938, Korngold was conducting opera in Austria when he was asked by Warner Bros. to return to Hollywood and compose a score for The Adventures of Robin Hood. The film is considered the finest of its kind, with a continuous series of romantic and adventurous sequences propelled by Korngold's dynamic score.[14]:27 Music historian Laurence E. MacDonald notes that there were many factors which made the film a success, including its cast, its Technicolor photography, and fast-paced direction by Michael Curtiz, but "most of all, there is Korngold's glorious music".[15]:49 And film historian Rudy Behlmer describes Korngold's contribution to this and his other films:

Korngold's score was a splendid added dimension. His style for the Flynn swashbucklers resembled that of the creators of late nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century German symphonic tone poems. It incorporated chromatic harmonies, lush instrumental effects, passionate climaxes—all performed in a generally romantic manner. Korngold's original and distinctive style was influenced by the Wagnerian leitmotif, the orchestral virtuosity of Richard Strauss, the delicacy and broad melodic sweep of Puccini, and the long-line development of Gustav Mahler.[16]:38

Before Korngold began composing the score, Austria was invaded by Germany and annexed by the Nazis. His home in Vienna was confiscated by the Nazis.[16]:35 And because it meant that all Jews in Austria were now at risk, Korngold stayed in America until the end of World War II. He later said, "We thought of ourselves as Viennese; Hitler made us Jewish".[17] Korngold noted that the opportunity to compose the score for Robin Hood saved his life.

It also gave him his second Academy Award for Best Original Score and established the symphonic style that would later be used in action films during Hollywood's Golden Age.[15]:50 Modern day epics such as the Star Wars and Indiana Jones trilogies similarly included original symphonic scores.[15]:50 Composer John Williams has cited Korngold as his insipiration in scoring the Star Wars series.[18]:717


Contemporary reviews were highly positive. "A richly produced, bravely bedecked, romantic and colorful show, it leaps boldly to the forefront of this year's best", wrote Frank S. Nugent of The New York Times.[19] "It is cinematic pageantry at its best", raved Variety. "A highly imaginative retelling of folklore in all the hues of Technicolor, deserving handsome boxoffice returns".[20] Film Daily called it "high class entertainment" with "excellent direction" and an "ideal choice" in the casting of Flynn.[21] "Excellent entertainment!" wrote Harrison's Reports. "Adventure, romance, comedy, and human appeal have been skilfully blended to give satisfaction on all counts ... The duel in the closing scenes between the hero and his arch enemy is the most exciting ever filmed".[22] John Mosher of The New Yorker called it "a rich, showy, and, for all its tussles, somewhat stolid affair", praising Flynn's performance and the action sequences but finding the "excellent collection" of supporting actors to be "somewhat buried under the medieval panoply".[23]Review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports that 100% of critics gave the film a positive review, based on 44 reviews, with an average score of 8.9/10. The film is currently No. 29 on Rotten Tomatoes' list of the best-rated films in cinema.[24] Rotten Tomatoes summarizes the critical consensus as, "Errol Flynn thrills as the legendary title character, and the film embodies the type of imaginative family adventure tailor-made for the silver screen".[25]

Box officeEdit

The Adventures of Robin Hood became the sixth-highest-grossing film of the year,[7] with just over $4 million in revenues[2] at a time when the average ticket price was less than 25 cents.[26]

According to Warner Bros records the film earned $1,928,000 domestically and $2,053,000 foreign.[1]

Warner Bros. was so pleased with the results that the studio cast Flynn in two more color epics before the end of the decade: Dodge City and The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex.[27]

A sequel, Sir Robin of Locksley was announced but never developed.[10]

Awards and nominationsEdit

The film won three Academy Awards at the 11th Academy Awards and was nominated for one more:

Won: Best Art Direction (Carl Jules Weyl)
Won: Best Film Editing (Ralph Dawson)
Won: Best Original Score (Erich Wolfgang Korngold) - The love theme of Robin and Marian went on to become a celebrated concert piece.
Nominated: Best Picture (Hal B. Wallis, Henry Blanke)


Due to the film's popularity, Errol Flynn's name and image became inextricably linked with that of Robin Hood in the public eye, even more so than Douglas Fairbanks, who had played the role previously in 1922.[28]

This was the third film to pair Flynn and Olivia de Havilland (after Captain Blood and The Charge of the Light Brigade). They would ultimately star together in nine films, the aforementioned and Four's a Crowd (1938), The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939), Dodge City (1939), Santa Fe Trail (1940), They Died with Their Boots On (1941) and Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943), although they shared no scenes in the last film.[29]

Scenes and costumes worn by the characters have been imitated and spoofed endlessly. For instance, in the Bugs Bunny animated short film, Rabbit Hood, Bugs is continually told by a dim-witted Little John, "Don't you worry, never fear; Robin Hood will soon be here." When Bugs finally meets Robin at the end of the film, he is stunned to find that it is Errol Flynn, in a spliced-in clip from this film (he subsequently shakes his head and declares, "It couldn't be him!"). Other parodies were Daffy Duck and Porky Pig in Robin Hood Daffy and Goofy and Black Pete in Goof Troop's Goofin' Hood & His Melancholy Men.

A fragment of one of the film's sword fighting scenes was converted to sprites by Jordan Mechner and used for his 1989 platform game Prince of Persia.[30]

In Disney’s 2010 animated film Tangled, the appearance and personality of Flynn Rider are partly inspired by that of Errol Flynn, with his surname also being used in homage.[citation needed]

The Adventures of Robin Hood is often used as a benchmark for productions of later Robin Hood films.

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ Roy Rogers admired the then-named Golden Cloud so much that he bought Trigger to use in his own films. This eventually made Trigger one of the most famous animals in show business.
  2. ^ The first, preceding it by a few months, was Gold is Where You Find It, which tested the process as a run-up to The Adventures of Robin Hood.


  1. ^ a b c Warner Bros financial information in The William Shaefer Ledger. See Appendix 1, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, (1995) 15:sup1, 1-31 p 18 DOI: 10.1080/01439689508604551
  2. ^ a b c Glancy, H. Mark. "Warner Bros film grosses, 1921-51." Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television. March 1995
  3. ^ "Top 100 Movies of All Time - Rotten Tomatoes". Retrieved 19 April 2016.
  4. ^ "25 old films honored". St. Petersburg Times. December 28, 1995. Retrieved July 22, 2009.
  5. ^ "Detail view of Movies Page". Retrieved 19 April 2016.
  6. ^ Rowan, Terry M. (2016). Character-Based Series Part I. p. 170. ISBN 978-1365421051. Retrieved March 11, 2018.
  7. ^ a b Higgins, Scott (2007). Harnessing the Technicolor Rainbow: Color Design in the 1930s. University of Texas Press. pp. 138–139. ISBN 9780292779525.
  8. ^ a b Ebert, Roger (August 17, 2003). "Roger Ebert's review of "The Adventures of Robin Hood"". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved March 30, 2007.
  9. ^ "The mobster and the movies". CNN. August 24, 2004. Retrieved July 9, 2008.
  10. ^ a b Thomas, Tony; Behlmer, Rudy; McCarty, Clifford (June 1969). The Films of Errol Flynn. Secaucus, New Jersey: Citadel Press. p. 62–67. ISBN 978-0806502373.
  11. ^ The Worldwide Guide to Movie Locations by Tony Reeves. The Titan Publishing Group. Pg.14 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-06-25. Retrieved 2015-06-21.
  12. ^ Higham, Charles (1984). Sisters: The Story of Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine. Dell Publishing. p. 72. ISBN 0-440-17866-5.
  13. ^ "Archery club, hikers clash over Lower Arroyo Park trail in Pasadena". ABC News. May 25, 2011. Archived from the original on November 1, 2014. Retrieved April 4, 2015.
  14. ^ Thomas, Tony. Korngold: Vienna to Hollywood, Turner Entertainment (1996)
  15. ^ a b c MacDonald, Laurence E. The Invisible Art of Film Music: A Comprehensive History, Scarecrow Press (1998)
  16. ^ a b Behlmer, Rudy. The Adventures of Robin Hood, Univ. of Wisconsin Press (1979)
  17. ^ Bernardi, Daniel. Hollywood's Chosen People: The Jewish Experience in American Cinema, Wayne State University Press (2013) p. 48
  18. ^ Hischak, Thomas S. The Encyclopedia of Film Composers, Rowman & Littlefield (2015)
  19. ^ Nugent, Frank S. (May 13, 1938). "Movie Review - The Adventures of Robin Hood". The New York Times. Retrieved September 13, 2015.
  20. ^ "The Adventures of Robin Hood". Variety. New York. December 31, 1937. p. 22. Retrieved March 11, 2018.
  21. ^ Daly, Phil M. (April 29, 1938). "Reviews: The Adventures of Robin Hood". Film Daily. New York. 73 (99): 8. Retrieved March 11, 2018.
  22. ^ "The Adventures of Robin Hood with Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Basil Rathbone and Claude Rains". Harrison's Reports. New York. XX (27): 74. May 7, 1938. Retrieved March 11, 2018.
  23. ^ Mosher, John (May 21, 1938). "The Current Screen". The New Yorker. New York. pp. 71–72.
  24. ^ "Top 100 Movies Of All Time". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 31, 2014.
  25. ^ "The Adventures of Robin Hood". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 31, 2014.
  26. ^ Weitzman, Elizabeth (February 6, 2009). "The Depression-era gems at 1930s prices". New York Daily News. Retrieved October 5, 2010.
  27. ^ Levy, Emanuel (September 12, 2016). "Reel/Real Impact: Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)".
  28. ^ King, Susan (May 12, 2010). "Classic Hollywood: 100 years of Robin Hood movies". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 2, 2010.
  29. ^ "AFI Catalog of Feature Films". American Film Institute. Retrieved 19 April 2016.
  30. ^ Mechner, Jordan (2011). Classic Game Postmortem: PRINCE OF PERSIA (Speech). Game Developers Conference. San Francisco. Event occurs at 38:35. Retrieved 30 May 2013.

External linksEdit