King Richard the Lionheart has been captured on his return from the Crusades, and his brother Prince John (Claude Rains) has his eye on the throne. Oppressing the masses, it seems as though the commoners are helpless against Prince John and his right-hand man, Sir Guy of Gisbourne (Rathbone). One man stands in the way of their total control - an arrow-toting vigilante called Robin Hood (Errol Flynn). As Robin gathers together his band of merry men, he falls in love with Maid Marian (Olivia de Havilland). Exposing the truth about how poorly Prince John is treating the people, she joins Robin in his quest to steal from the rich and give to the poor.
Simply stated, "The Adventures of Robin Hood" is a very fun movie to watch. Even by today's standards, some of the action scenes are standouts. I won't spoil any of the best moments, but rest assured "The Adventures of Robin Hood" is exciting from start to finish. Part of what makes the movie so good is the level of enthusiasm from all the players. Errol Flynn, who stars as Robin Hood, is excellent. Since his career-making performance in 1935's "Captain Blood," the actor had become associated with swashbuckling costume epics. It seems like Flynn is having a very fun time playing the part, and his joviality transfers wonderfully to the screen.
The rest of the cast is equally impressive. Olivia de Havilliand is excellent as Maid Marian and Claude Rains is at his evil best as Prince John. Rains is one of this reviewer's favourite actors and aside from his brilliant performance in 1933's "The Invisible Man," Rains is at his finest here. Basil Rathbone, much like Flynn, seems to be having a ball in his part. Rathbone is seldom seemed so menacing or intimidating as he does in this movie. His performance is a testament to how fantastic he was as an actor, and it for that reason that I cite this movie as one of Rathbone's greatest performances.
|Flynn (left) and Rathbone (right)|
"The Adventures of Robin Hood" is based entirely upon the original legends which persist concerning the cunning thief. Many of the Robin Hood myths are crammed into the script, which means that a real plot does sort of fall by the wayside. Though this could be a problem, I think that this manages to make the movie exciting, as it bobs and weaves its way through the Robin Hood mythos. In fact, in my background research for the movie, I discovered that a jousting sequence was excised from the final film, which would have only added to the spectacle prevalent in the movie. Yet, "The Adventures of Robin Hood" did not win the Academy Award for Best Picture - losing out to Frank Capra's "You Can't Take It With You."
And so, I conclude this series of five reviews. For those of you anticipating more Sherlockian-related posts, they will be along soon. In the meantime - what are your favourite Basil Rathbone films? Do you agree with my Top 5 list? Feel free to leave a comment below.