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The Adventures of Robin Hood [Blu-ray]  [US Import]
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Dashing Errol Flynn is the definitive Robin in 1938's The Adventures of Robin Hood, the most gloriously swashbuckling version of the legendary story. Warner Brothers reunited Michael Curtiz, their top-action director, with the winning team of Flynn and Olivia de Havilland (Maid Marian) and perennial villain Basil Rathbone as the aristocratic Sir Guy of Gisbourne, and pulled out all stops for the production. It became their costliest film to date, a grandly handsome, glowing technicolour adventure set to a stirring, Oscar-winning score by Erich Wolfgang Korngold--music that became a template for countless later movies, notably John Williams' Star Wars and Indiana Jones scores.
The decadent Prince John (a smoothly conniving Claude Rains) takes advantage of King Richard's absence to tax the country into poverty but meets his match in the medieval guerrilla rebel Robin Hood and his Merry Men of Sherwood Forest, who rise up and, to quote a cliché coined by the film, "steal from the rich and give to the poor". Stocky Alan Hale Sr plays Robin's loyal friend Little John (a part he played in Douglas Fairbanks' silent version), Eugene Palette plays the portly Friar Tuck and Melville Cooper is the bumbling Sheriff of Nottingham. Flynn's confidence and cocky charm makes for a perfect Robin and his easygoing manner is a marvellous counterpoint to Rathbone's regal bearing and courtly diction. The film climaxes in their rousing battle-to-the-finish sword fight, a magnificently choreographed scene highlighted by Curtiz's inventive use of shadows cast upon the castle walls. --Sean Axmaker --This text refers to the DVD edition.
Errol Flynn is eternally charming as Robin, defender of the poor, in this rousing family adventure that co-stars Olivia de Havilland and Claude Rains. Year: 1938 Director: Michael Curtiz, William Keighley Starring: Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Basil Rathbone, Claude Rains, Alan Hale --This text refers to the DVD edition.
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Dashing Errol Flynn triumphs in this lavish, fast-paced Technicolour® adventure version of the Robin Hood legend in this 1938 production of ‘The Adventures of Robin Hood.’ Doing many of his stunts himself, Errol Flynn is at his most athletic and romantic, but originally the role was intended for James Cagney. Olivia de Havilland as Maid Marion and perennial villain Basil Rathbone as the aristocratic Sir Guy of Gisbourne, Claude Raines as Prince John and a boisterous who’s who of actors that pulled out all stops for the production. Plus Warner Bros. reunited Michael Curtiz, as their top-action film director. Welcome to Sherwood!
FILM FACT: The film won three Academy Awards® at the 11th Academy Awards® and was nominated for one more: Best Art Direction (Color) for Carl Jules Weyl. Best Film Editing for Ralph Dawson and Best Original Score for Erich Wolfgang Korngold. It was also Nominated for Best Picture for Hal B. Wallis and Henry Blanke.
Cast: Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Basil Rathbone, Claude Rains, Patric Knowles, Eugene Pallette, Alan Hale Sr., Herbert Mundin, Melville Cooper, Una O'Connor, Ian Hunter, Montagu Love, Harry Cording, Ivan F. Simpson, Leonard Willey, Robert Noble, Kenneth Hunter, Robert Warwick, Colin Kenny, Lester Matthews, Lionel Belmore (uncredited), Frank Hagney(uncredited), Holmes Herbert(uncredited), Howard Hill(uncredited), Crauford Kent(uncredited), Carole Landis(uncredited), Leonard Mudie(uncredited), Reginald Sheffield(uncredited), Sam Jaffe (uncredited) and Trigger (Lady Marian's horse)
Directors: Michael Curtiz and William Keighley
Producers: Hal B. Wallis, Henry Blanke and Jack L. Warner
Screenplay: Norman Reilly Raine, Rowland Leigh and Seton I. Miller
Composer: Erich Wolfgang Korngold and Leo F. Forbstein
Cinematography: Tony Gaudio, Sol Polito, W. Howard Greene (Technicolor photographer) and Natalie Kalmus (Technicolor director)
Video Resolution: 1080p [Technicolor]
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audio: English: 1.0 Dolby Digital, French: 1.0 Dolby Digital, Spanish: Dolby Digital 1.0 and Music-Only Track 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French and Spanish
Running Time: 102 minutes
Region: Region A/1
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Warner Home Video
Andrew's Blu-ray Review: Oh how I do love ‘The Adventures of Robin Hood’ film? And here is why: there's the incredibly dashing Errol Flynn in one of his signature roles; the unbelievably alluring (yet always chaste) Olivia de Havilland, simply a vision of grace and spunk; the eye-popping Technicolor palette which I regularly show to those unfamiliar with classic Technicolor to prove to them colours were more beautiful "back then" and last, but certainly not least, the beyond rousing, Oscar-winning score of Erich Wolfgang Korngold, which layers theme upon theme to bring out the subliminal hero in all of us. And that's just for starters. I have loved this film since the first time I saw it, decades ago, and my love for it has only grown in the intervening years. It may not be deep, and at times it is patently silly, but I for one don't think classic Hollywood has ever fashioned a more complete entertainment than The Adventures of Robin Hood and that is why I developed a true appreciation for film classics of this genre.
When I was first introduced to this 1938 Technicolor swashbuckling film, 'The Adventures of Robin Hood,' from then on I fell in love with this awesome film. Seventy-odd years on, it still holds up splendidly as high octane adventure, a soaring love story and good old-fashioned popcorn entertainment. So what if the sets look slightly phony, the costumes slightly goofy, and the dialogue sounds slightly old fashioned? Today's big-budget, effects-laden snooze-fests would kill to earn even a tenth of the laughs, thrills, and swoons that this little baby manages, seemingly without even breaking a sweat.
Errol Flynn was the perfect leading man. Though he was quoted later as having been "bored" by the role, after achieving stardom with earlier, similar efforts like 'Captain Blood'  and 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' , you wouldn't know it from his performance. No one could charge into a room, swish a sword and charm the ladies like he could and they didn't coin the phrase "in like Flynn" for nothing. So iconic is Errol Flynn's “Robin Hood” portrayal that it is parodied in satires, especially like Mel Brooks' 'Men in Tights.'
The supporting cast is also really wonderful. Olivia de Havilland is a gorgeous, sly, and feisty Maid Marian. Flynn was reportedly a bit of a troublemaker on set, reserving most of his goodwill only for Olivia de Havilland. Whatever the case, their chemistry is palpable on screen, winning, and rather sexy. Basil Rathbone, the world's most famous Sherlock Holmes, is wisely cast against type as the villainous Sir Guy of Gisbourne. His performance is consummate in its wickedness and subtle wit, with Basil Rathbone easily holding his own against Errol Flynn. Also look for a terrific ensemble of famous character actors, including Melville Cooper as the hilarious, snivelling High Sheriff of Nottingham. On top of all that, Warner Bros. stable standby Claude Rains as somewhat fey Prince John, and Alan Hale, Sr. (a dead-ringer for his son, future 'Gilligan's Island' skipper Alan Hale, Jr.) as Little John.
It's interesting that 'The Adventures of Robin Hood' continues to be considered the definitive telling of the classic tale, because based on the behind-the-scenes dramas that plagued its production; it should have been a disaster. William Keighley was the original director, hired mainly because he had worked with Errol Flynn a year prior on 'The Prince and the Pauper.' Despite the studio's high hopes, his early dailies were underwhelming, and he was promptly replaced by another director, Michael Curtiz. Veteran of such hits as 'The Perfect Specimen,' 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' and 'Captain Blood' (the latter two again with Errol Flynn), Curtiz's influence helped give the film its now famous light-hearted spirit and dazzling derring-do. 'Robin Hood' certainly ranks up there in a career filled with staggering achievements.
Ultimately, even those familiar with the Robin Hood character but unfamiliar with this particular version, will find something to love here. The film leaves nothing of the legend out, the splitting of the arrow, the fight with Little John and the Sherwood Forest feast, not to mention the swordplay, the romance, and the plundering... it's all here in spades. 'The Adventures of Robin Hood' may not have modern special effects, airbrushed models instead of actors, and fast-cut editing, but even seventy years on, it remains cinema's reigning swashbuckler.
Blu-ray Video Quality – 'The Adventures of Robin Hood' I really enjoyed on an old fashioned NTSC DVD release that was at the time magnificent. Restored under the auspices of the "Ultra Resolution" process, this technological wonder allows for clean-up and re-alignment of vintage Technicolor negatives, returning them not only to their former glory but far surpassing any previous presentation in terms of clarity, colour purity, and sharpness. The results of Warner Bros. advancements have earned praise far and wide, and I'm certainly a huge fan. I continue to be amazed at how fantastic the recent Warner Ultra Resolution titles like 'Singin' in the Rain,' Gone with the Wind' and 'The Searchers' look, and now 'The Adventures of Robin Hood' can be safely added to that list. The only reason I'm not giving 'Robin Hood' a full five-star video is because it may be just a smidgen less perfect, and not quite as sharp, as the absolute top tier of Warner's Ultra-Resolution titles, and the title I still hold up as the absolute reference-standard, 'Singin' in the Rain.' But despite the minor quibble, 'The Adventures of Robin Hood' looks totally fantastic.
Blu-ray Audio Video – Due to the age of the audio elements, and the lack of the original "stems" needed to create a full 5.1 surround remix, 'The Adventures of Robin Hood' is presented in 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono, as with the NTSC DVD version, there just isn't much you can say about this mono mix. Overall, fidelity is fine. The most apparent improvement is the high end, gone is that shrill, ear-piercing flatness one usually associates with old mono mixes. Mid-range and low bass could still have used a bit of a boost, however. This is most noticeable on the brass-filled music score, which sounds rather flat. Dialogue holds up very well, though, if somewhat pinched. But like the image, any deficiencies in the audio are hardly excessive, and after a few minutes, you won't even notice. But a word of warning, put your amplifier setting in the STEREO mode, as if you have it in the Dolby Surround mode, it sounds totally awful, I just wish with this awesome Technicolor film, they could of spent some extra money on upgrading the sound to at least 1.0 DTS-HD Master Audio.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras: 'The Adventures of Robin Hood' was a fantastic package even on the old fashioned NTSC DVD, with hours and hours of bonus materials. It's just as impressive here on this Blu-ray, especially with all of the same materials, but presented in 480i video image, that are of very high calibre. Whew – what a package!
Special Feature: Alternate Viewing Mode [1080p] Let's start with the 'Warner Night at the Movies" option. This allows you to watch the film in the context of a film theatre programme, as it would have been exhibited at the time of its original release. Introduced by the ubiquitous Leonard Maltin, this option precedes the film with a Vintage Newsreel; a musical short subject from Freddie Rich and His Orchestra; the Merrie Melodies cartoon "Katnip Kollege" [1080p] and a theatrical trailer for 'Angels with Dirty Faces.' It's a very fun way to kick off the movie, and a terrific addition from Warner Bros.
Audio Commentary: Commentary by film historian Rudy Behlmer: His name should be familiar to any fan of classic cinema, as he's contributed to numerous DVD supplements and documentaries. Admittedly, his track here can be a little dry. He's so well prepared he seems to be reading off of already-written material. But you can't argue with the breadth and depth of his knowledge. He sticks to the movie at hand, and covers just about every aspect of the production, from conception to casting to shooting to release. Perhaps this is not for casual viewers, but diehard fans of the film shouldn't miss it.
Special Feature Documentaries [480i] Two full-length documentaries are also included. "Glorious Technicolor" runs 60 minutes and is hosted by Angela Lansbury. It's a fascinating, very well-produced history of the Technicolor process, from its glory days in the '30s and '40s to its slow and painful demise, by the end of the '60s, it was all but dead, which I think is very sad. Another nice bonus from Warner Bros. the documentary has its own chapter search function. Very handy.
Special Feature: Welcome to Sherwood: The Story of 'The Adventures of Robin Hood  [480i] [4:3] [55:00] Welcome to Sherwood: The Making of The Adventures of Robin Hood  takes us behind the scenes during production of the Warner Bros. classic - from the development of the script to the fight choreography. You'll also learn more about the history of the Robin Hood legend and what prompted Warner Bros. to make ‘The Adventures of Robin Hood.’ In addition, we learn how close James Cagney came to bouncing around Sherwood Forest in green tights instead of Errol Flynn and what happened to the horse Olivia de Havilland rode in the film and why two men are credited with directing the film. The documentary includes colour home movie footage of the cast and crew on location plus interviews with film historians such as Rudy Behlmer, Bob Thomas, Leonard Maltin and Robert Osborne. One thing the documentary doesn't go into is the relationship between Errol Flynn and director Michael Curtiz. In all the two men made 12 films together, including ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ and ‘Captain Blood’ and the film that made Errol Flynn a star. Despite their long history and the string of hits they made, they hated each other.
Special Feature: Video Archive  [480i] [4:3] A huge archive of historical material begins with a clutch of rare and never-before-seen footage. Rudy Behlmer returns to narrate an 8-minute series of Outtakes, plus "Breakdowns of 1938," a 14-minute studio blooper reel. Both are without sound.
Special Feature: A Journey to Sherwood Forest  [480i] [4:3] [13:00] This is an assemblage of on-set footage and home movies made during the film's production.
Special Feature: Robin Hood Through the Ages  [480i] [4:3] [7:00] Offers a brief history of Robin Hood's earlier screen adaptations, most notably the 1922 Douglas Fairbanks silent version.
Special Feature: Audio Archive:  There are also three very impressive audio-only supplements. "The Robin Hood Radio Show" from 1938 is just that, and is quite a bit of nostalgia. Though I'd never heard this actual radio programme before, because it was mainly heard on American Radio and not here in the UK. Also included are a few outtakes of Erich Wolfgang Korngold piano sessions. Best of all, is a complete music-only track of the composer's OSCAR® winning score. As was the case with the feature, the audio here is presented in Dolby Digital Mono as well.
Special Feature: Still Gallery: Splitting the Arrow  [1080p] Presented in full 1080p video is the "Splitting the Arrow" animated still gallery. I counted over a hundred stills, ranging from historical art and costume designs, to scene concepts and cast and crew photos. This one is very easy to navigate with your remote's basic control functions.
Special Feature: Warner Bros. Shorts: Next up are four different short films and cartoons. All are presented in 1080p video image. Sit back and enjoy the Looney Tunes classics, which are as follows:
Vintage Warner Bros. Cartoon: ‘Rabbit Hood’  [480i] [4:3] This cartoon is the origin of the infamous "knighting" exchange, where Bugs Bunny is dressed up like a king, and proceeds to pound the skull of the Sheriff with his sceptre while dispensing an oddball title with each strike. The short was directed by Chuck Jones and written by Michael Maltese. As usual, Mel Blanc picked up all the voice characterisations. The layouts were done by Robert Gribbroek and the backgrounds by Peter Alvarado.
Vintage Warner Bros. Cartoon: ‘Robin Hood Daffy’  [480i] [4:3] The film features Daffy Duck in the role of legendary outlaw Robin Hood, and opens to the strains of his playing a song on an instrument similar to an arch lute or bouzouki. As he prances along singing, he trips and tumbles down a hill still singing, off a bank and into a river. Directed by Chuck Jones and written by Michael Maltese. It was the last Chuck Jones theatrical cartoon to star Porky Pig.
Then, there are two vintage short subjects, which are as follows:
Vintage Warner Bros. Short: ‘Cavalcade of Archery’  [480i] [4:3] Master Bowman Howard Hill displays his remarkable skills in a Technicolor ‘Cavalcade of Archery.’ Seven years after using his talents to great advantage in the classic swashbuckler ‘The Adventures of Robin Hood’ , Howard Hill once again steps in front of the cameras in this enjoyable, light-hearted little film. Although the silly narration sometimes intrudes, it never obscures what Mr. Hill is able to do with his arrows to a variety of targets, including bottles, a gourd, an apple and even a prune. Often overlooked or neglected today, the one and two-reel short subjects were useful to the Studios as important training grounds for new or burgeoning talents, both in front & behind the camera. The dynamics for creating a successful short subject was completely different from that of a feature length film, something akin to writing a top-notch short story rather than a novel. Economical to produce in terms of both budget & schedule and capable of portraying a wide range of material, short subjects were the perfect complement to the Studios' feature films.
Vintage Warner Bros. Short: ‘The Cruise of the Zaca’  [480i] [4:3] ‘Cruise of the Zaca’ is a short documentary on 16mm about a trip taken by Errol Flynn in 1946 on his boat the “Zaca” to collect specimens with his father, Professor Flynn. The trip was done in association with the Scripps Institute of Oceanography of the University of California and took place off the east coast of Mexico and in the West Indies. Errol Flynn leaves his house on Mullholland Drive by helicopter captained by Paul Mantz and goes to the Scripps Institute. He goes on board the “Zaca” and visit San Benito Island, the Panama Canal and Jamaica. The trip started in August 1946. On board were Errol Flynn, his father, his wife Nora, and John Decker, Howard Hill, Professor Carl Hubbs, Charles Gross and Jerry Corneya. After a month of sailing, many of the group left, including Flynn's wife and father, but Flynn pushed on through the Panama Canal to the Caribbean to Cap Haitien. Before going through the Canal, Errol Flynn stayed in Acapulco where the “Zaca” had been hired to appear in ‘The Lady from Shanghai’ .
Theatrical Trailers [1080p] The fun finally comes to an end with an Errol Flynn Trailer Gallery, featuring spots for 'The Adventures of Robin Hood,' plus the aforementioned 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' and 'Captain Blood.'
Finally, 'The Adventures of Robin Hood' is a lively, rousing adventure. Sure, it's from 1938, with plenty of silly costumes and hairstyles, but who cares when it's so much fun? This Blu-ray is magnificent. Warner Home Video continues to impress with its Ultra-Resolution re-masters and the video transfer in particular is a stunner and there are so many extras here it could take you days to get through them all. If you are at all a fan of Robin Hood and his band of Merry Men, then this Blu-ray is an absolute must-own. For a film that features beautiful lush colours, vivid pageantry and thrilling performances, that today can be hard to come by. The special features alone provide a delightful peek behind the curtain into a time when cinema began to shine its brightest. The Blu-ray of ‘The Adventures of Robin Hood’ does justice to celebrating the frivolity that is Robin Hood Hollywood style, especially with the very charismatic Errol Flynn at its helm and again when I first viewed this film I feel in love with it 100%, as I think it is the best portrayal of this type of genre showing the ye olde history of England in that period and hasn't been bettered and now I have the ultimate version that I have now added to my Blu-ray Collection. Very Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom
This 2008 American BLU RAY reissue is a sweetheart and is thankfully free of all that Region Coding crap - so it won't give anyone playback problems (REGION FREE).
But what hits you head on when the film starts - is the Technicolor (which at the time was relatively new). The picture quality is truly fabulous - deep reds, striking blues, crimson, gold, velvet cloaks, jewelled gowns, lace veils, the forest feast with Maid Marion, multi-coloured flags and livery draped over horses, the archery tournament - gorgeous the whole lot of it. Even Errol's green tights will raise a smile.
There's the zippy dialogue of Claude Raines ("saucy fellow") and the snarl of Basil Rathbone ("I'll run him through...") and of course the most loveable rogue who ever pointed a bow and arrow at a fat rich Lord - Errol Flynn looking like he's enjoying himself way too much for a man living in 1191.
But all of these pale against Olivia De Havilland - the classiest and most beautiful actress who's ever turned down a knavish rake with a fierce ardour in his trouser area. To see her in the outtakes - and on set - smiling and laughing with Errol and the rest of the cast is an absolute blast. In 1959 she went to see the film in a re-run - and was overwhelmed at how beautiful it looked and how entertaining it still was. She determined to write Errol (who legendarily asked her to marry him twice - and she rightly turned down the notorious rake) and let him know that his great moment was still thrilling audiences - but she never did - and alas three weeks later he succumbed to illness and was gone...
The huge amount of BONUS MATERIAL that came with the 2DVD set is all present and correct - centrepiece of which is two indepth documentaries (hosted by film historians Rudy Behlmer and Leonard Maltin). They go into every aspect of the lavish $2 million dollar production - the stars (James Cagney was first suggested), the sets and the location (spraying trees green in the fall), the huge amount of clothing, the massive lights needed to fuel the Technicolor Process, biogs on the two Directors Michael Curtiz and William Keighley, the hands on genius of Producer Hal Wallis, each one of the supporting actors profiled, the sword fighting...it's incredibly comprehensive.
Warner Brothers are to be praised for this - a masterpiece of entertainment given a masterful release on BLU RAY.
2018 will see its 80th Anniversary - so maybe then we'll finally see a UK release for Sir Robin of Loxley and His Band of Merry Men (and one tasty woman) - and with some properly classy packaging and not just a crappy clipcase?
It's a corny phrase I know - but they really don't make 'em like this anymore (complete with daring do and buckles that swash). Do yourself a solid and buy this classic on BLU RAY - then keep it for a rainy day to cheer yourself up...
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