The Adventures of Robin Hood

Critics Consensus

Errol Flynn thrills as the legendary title character, and the film embodies the type of imaginative family adventure tailor-made for the silver screen.



Total Count: 46


Audience Score

User Ratings: 33,871
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The Adventures of Robin Hood Photos

Movie Info

In order to avoid the material copyrighted by Douglas Fairbanks Sr. for his 1922 Robin Hood, the scripters of this Flynn version relied on several legendary episodes that had never before been filmed, notably the battle between Robin and Little John (Alan Hale Sr., who played this part three times in his long career) and the "piggy-back" episode between Robin and Friar Tuck (Eugene Pallette). The film ties together the various ancient anecdotes with a storyline bounded by the capture in Austria of Richard the Lionheart (Ian Hunter) on one end and Richard's triumphant return to England on the other. Robin Hood is already an outlaw at the outset of the film, while Maid Marian (Olivia de Havilland) is initially part of the enemy camp, as one of Prince John's (Claude Rains) entourage. Marian warms up to Robin's fight against injustice (and to Robin himself), eventually becoming a trusted ally. James Cagney was originally announced for the role of Robin Hood, just before Cagney left Warner Bros. in a salary dispute. William Keighley was the original director, but he worked too slowly to suit the tight production schedule and was replaced by Michael Curtiz (both men receive screen credit). A lengthy opening jousting sequence was shot but removed from the final print; portions of this sequence show up as stock footage in the 1957 Warners film The Story of Mankind. The chestnut-colored Palomino horse ridden by de Havilland in the Sherwood Forest scenes later gained screen stardom as Roy Rogers' Trigger.

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Errol Flynn
as Robin Hood
Basil Rathbone
as Sir Guy of Gisbourne
Claude Rains
as Prince John
Eugene Pallette
as Friar Tuck
Alan Hale
as Little John
Patric Knowles
as Will Scarlet
Melville Cooper
as Sheriff of Nottingham
Herbert Mundin
as Much the Miller's Son
Montagu Love
as Bishop of the Black Canons
Ian Hunter
as King Richard the Lion-Hearted
Robert Warwick
as Sir Geoffrey
Leonard Willey
as Sir Essex
Harry Cording
as Dickon Malbete
Howard Hill
as Captain of Archers
Robert Noble
as Sir Ralf
Kenneth Hunter
as Sir Mortimer
Colin Kenny
as Sir Baldwin
Ivan Simpson
as Tavern Proprietor
James Baker
as Philip of Arras
Lionel Belmore
as Humility Prin
Wilfred Lucas
as Archery Official
Reginald Sheffield
as Herald at Archery Toumament
Janet Shaw
as Humility's Daughter
Crauford Kent
as Sir Norbert
Austin Fairman
as Sir Nigel
Hal Brazeale
as High Sheriff's Squire
Leonard Mudie
as Town Crier
Herbert Evans
as Seneschal
Leyland Hodgson
as Norman Officer
Marten Lamont
as Sir Guy's Squire
John Sutton
as Richard's Knight
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Critic Reviews for The Adventures of Robin Hood

All Critics (46) | Top Critics (8)

Audience Reviews for The Adventures of Robin Hood

  • Jul 28, 2017
    Wow, for star power, it's hard to beat Errol Flynn as Robin Hood and Olivia de Havilland as Maid Marion. Flynn had the perfect devil may care attitude for the part of Robin, and his impudence towards the pretender to the English throne is fantastic. de Havilland is absolutely stunning and plays her part well as the noble who is offended by Robin at first, but is then slowly won over to his humanity and righteousness. The movie features all of the standard sorts of things we've come to expect in productions of Robin Hood - camaraderie, swordplay, honor, and daring escapes, among other things. I loved the stunts, including Flynn cutting the rope to a gate, and then being pulled upwards by its pulley in order to get over it while leaving his pursuers trapped on the other side. The cast is strong throughout, from the main villains (Basil Rathbone and Claude Rains) to charming characters like Marion's old nurse, played by Una O'Connor, who has a little romance of her own. The film is in color and quite a production for 1938, really showing how far movies came over the course of the 1930's. I loved the costumes from Milo Anderson, particularly those for the 22-year-old de Havilland, who directors Curtiz and Keighley wisely took every opportunity to shoot close up, allowing her beauty to shine, and her eyes to display fear, annoyance, anger, and love. Her scenes with Flynn are magical. The only thing I fault the film for is the soundtrack, which I found too jaunty and intrusive, even for scenes which had a lot of action in them, but that's a bit of a quibble. The only reason I don't rate it higher is because the story itself has been done so often that it's lost its shine for me personally, but if classic adventure stories with romance in them are your thing, I think you'll love this film.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer
  • Oct 01, 2013
    Robin Hood and his band of merry men fight the Sheriff of Nottingham. Campy and ridiculous, this film seems interchangeable with its parody, Mel Brooks's Robin Hood: Men in Tights. There's nothing new about the Robin Hood legend here except for the remarkable insouciance with which violence and poverty are treated. I'm sure that it's supposed to be light-hearted and funny, but I found myself rolling my eyes, and not a chuckle escaped my lips. Overall, this film is a lackadaisical piece of shit.
    Jim H Super Reviewer
  • Jun 13, 2013
    Before "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn", Michael Curtiz co-directed this, "The Adventures of Errol Flynn"... after doing 111 other projects and before doing 54 more projects. If you think that I'm exaggerating those numbers, I'm not, and before death finally caught up to Curtiz, his name was attached to 166 projects, so I reckon it's safe to say that he had a relatively successful career, as surely as Errol Flynn led a relatively successful career as a swashbuckler, back when most people actually knew what in the world the term "swashbuckling" means. Well, of course Flynn was going to lead a successful career as a swashbuckler, because the man had the name of a pirate, or at least the name of an aviator... I reckon. I'm sorry, I'm from Alabama, where we don't say "aeroplane" as much as you ignorant Yankees might think, but have to hear it all the time from the satire by, well, you ignorant Yankees who don't realize that we are, in fact, much more cultured nowadays, so much so that we gladly embrace this here old movin' pitture about some fruity-lookin' feller usin' some kind of a fancy bowin' arrow that wouldn't stand a bit of kudzu's chance in a tractor race against my crossbow to save some lady, which is irocnick, or whatever them college folks say, because all he's gonna end up doin' is beatin' her if she comes close stepping out of the line that God put women in to make sure that they don't go and mess up this purtty world that us kindly white men worked so hard buildin' (*insert spit and subsequent ting sound effects here*). Interesting how this opener to a discussion dealing with a classic swashbuckling film set in England during the Middle Ages ended up touching upon redneck satire, but hey, I could have picked a more irrelevant topic, seeing as how we are talking about someone who lived so far south that he was born and raised in Australia, kind of like that Keith Urban feller who plays country music like good ol' Hank Williams. Shoot, I can't even joke about Urban's music being real country, rather than just pop rock with a twang, and besides, I'm really going off topic at this point, because this film is so old that it came at a time when we were just getting used to country music. Oh well, it's still a decent flick, and yet, much like yankee views on the South, its not without some questionable spots. It's a fluff piece of the 1930s, so of course certain lively touches have dated, yet that doesn't really make them any less cheesy, because even though the film hasn't turned cornball by now, it is not without somewhat cheesy moments of fluffy filler that throw you off, though not quite as much as the focal unevenness. The film isn't dizzyingly inconsistent, but it does have a tendency to break up direct, if a tad aimless sections in its narrative as an adventure film with some shifts into typically ultimately necessary, but hardly organically incorporated happenings that could have perhaps fit more comfortably in the midst of this film's focal structure if storytelling actually took the time that it should, or rather, any time to meditate upon fleshing its story out. Again, this is a harmless adventure flick, and one revolved around a highly recognizable legend, so it's not like I'm asking for much by any means when it comes to development, but the film feels very undercooked, featuring lapses in exposition that dilute both the full effectiveness of the characters' motivations and the firm distinguishing of the members of this conceptually dynamic character roster, while leaving certain events to feel hurried in and repetitious, and further detrimental to your engagement value. Something of a core problem that sparks the aforementioned unevenness, underdevelopment is arguably the final product's biggest consequential problem, and yet, with that said, the underdevelopment isn't too disconcerting, which means that there's even less to the cheesiness and unevenness, thus leaving the final product with only so many errors in storytelling, but primarily because, quite frankly, there's not a whole lot to this story to begin with. When I called this film a fluff piece, I really did mean that it was harmless fare for its time, with a topic that could be built into a strong story, but is instead the basis for a barely consequential popcorn storyline, which may ultimately be presented in a fashion that is entertaining enough for the final product to succeed just fine as a fun popcorn flick, but is just too thin to be all that memorable. Consequential flaws are made a bit more glaring by this story that isn't as rich as it perhaps could have been, slowing down momentum that was never to have too much kick, until you end up with a fluff piece that it plenty of fun, but a fluff piece, nevertheless, complete with not enough kick to be especially memorable. Still, while the final product isn't necessarily a deeply rewarding ride, it is a ride that's reasonably worth taking, having shortcomings within its story's concept and telling, but enough in the way of fun factor to liven up your mood a bit, just like how sharp musical aspects liven up the film itself. This film's score, composed by Erich Wolfgang Korngold (Great name), is by no means especially unique, but it's hardly as trite as plenty of other film scores of the classic era of Hollywood, and that allows you to have a bit more appreciation for this score's strength, which is indeed mighty, combining soulful elegance with thrilling boastful through thorough liveliness that helps greatly in bringing this film's high entertainment value to life, while also helping to sell you on this film's tone. What sells you on the actual look of this film is, of course, the efforts of art director Carl Jules Weyl and costume designer Milo Anderson, who do a decent and rather stylish job of restoring the Middle Ages through nifty designs that go complimented by Tony Gaudio's and Sol Polito's lushly colorful and comfortably scoped Technicolor cinematography. Gaudio and Polito add the film's good looks with then-fine photography that is still fairly pretty to this day, while also putting tight framing to good use during the action sequences, which are few and far between, and held back by sensibilities of the time, but still well-shot, well-choreographed and all round well-staged enough to thrill just fine, not necessarily as a reinforcement of what sense of consequence there is to this fluffy storyline, but certainly as a compliment to the swashbuckling adventurousness of this popcorn piece. Some of the liveliness touch-ups just discussed are about as strong as I make them sound, with some being even stronger, because even though the film has dated as a popcorn entertainer, enough color within its musicality, look and action has stood the test of time for the film to get off a pretty good start when it comes to standing as a fun flick. Of course, what really secures the final product's entertainment value is the sketching out and telling of this story, which is, as I've gone on and on about, hardly all that rich, to where you get all that much of a sense of weighty meat, but still colorful, with a harmless adventurousness that gives this film the potential of being, if nothing else, the fun fare that it ultimately is, largely thanks to both a script by Norman Reilly Raine and Seton I. Miller that delivers on plenty of sharp wit, as well directorial performances by Michael Curtiz and William Keighley that hit one lively beat after another. Curtiz and Keighley keep pacing brisk and spirited, gracing this film with a charm that goes fed by the charisma found throughout this cast, from which leading man Errol Flynn stands out by making sure that his being well-cast does not go to waste, nailing the heart of the legendary Robin Hood with such assurance that he becomes the role and, by extension, both one of the most memorable portrayers of a highly recognizable character, as well as a driving force in the film. This flick is what it is, and what it is is merely popcorn fare that was never to be all that compelling or memorable, so all it can be is entertaining, and sure enough, if this effort is nothing else, it is plenty of harmless fun, with style and charm that remain sharp enough to this day to entertain thoroughly, even if such entertainment comes at the expense of kick to substance. When the adventure is done, cheesy spots and some focal unevenness prove to be offputting, though not as much as the underdevelopment and structural hurrying that are still not too worthy of complaints, as this film's story concept is a shoestring-thin one with limited consequence and memorability, thus making for an underwhelming final product, but one still reasonably worth checking out, as lively score work, appealing production designs, handsome cinematography, thrilling action and an adventurous narrative, brought to life by witty writing, well-paced directorial storytelling and charismatic acting - especially by the well-cast and immersed Errol Flynn - go into making 1938's "The Adventures of Robin Hood" a fun popcorn piece that won't stick with you for very long, but proves to be enjoyable while it occupies your reasonably well-spent time. 2.5/5 - Fair
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Jun 03, 2013
    Probably the best Robin Hood film I've seen with a great performance by Errol Flynn as the charismatic Robin Of Locksley. There is a great use of plot and characters, of swashbuckling action, epic sets, three strip Technicolor photography, and most of all the romance. I really enjoyed the romance between Robin and Mariam (Olivia de Havilland) real actors giving of a natural chemistry which made me believe. Surprisingly I enjoyed this marvel picture all throughout.
    Brian R Super Reviewer

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