The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)

The Adventures of Robin Hood
Olivia de Havilland and Errol Flynn

'The Adventures of Robin Hood' is an historical adventure film made in 1938, directed by Michael Curtiz and William Keighley and starring Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Basil Rathbone, and Claude Rains. It is one of the greatest swashbuckling adventure movies in film history and at the time of its release was Warners' most expensive film, costing over $2 million. It became an international sensation and to this day is regarded as the definitive Robin Hood film.

The movie was nominated for four Academy Awards. It lost the Best Picture Award to Frank Capra's 'You Can't Take It With You' but won its other three nominations for Best Art Direction, Best Film Editing and Best Original Score. In 1995, the movie was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in their National Film Registry.

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The movie tells a basically simple story of good triumphing over evil with the gallant Robin and his merry band helping to save England from the evil Prince John and his treacherous nobles during the absence of the noble crusading King Richard the Lion-Heart. It calls for spectacular action sequences, glorious three-strip Technicolor (used for the first time by Warners) and features a charming and innocent romance between Robin and Maid Marion.

James Cagney was the original choice for Robin but it is nowadays difficult to imagine anyone other than Errol Flynn playing the part. His features uncannily resembled that of a classic Robin Hood illustration and by 1938 he was already developing a reputation as a swashbuckler both on screen and off. This was his third pairing with Olivia de Havilland (after 'Captain Blood' and 'The Charge of the Light Brigade') and they would ultimately appear together in eight films in all.

Two directors received screen credit for their work. William Keighley was the original director chosen by Warner Bros. He had directed Errol Flynn in 'The Prince and the Pauper' in 1937. He was replaced by the more dynamic Michael Curtiz who also had previously directed Flynn in a similar role in 'Captain Blood' in 1935. Both Directors were given onscreen credit for their work. Curtiz and Flynn would never have a warm relationship but would ultimately make twelve films together.

Of interest to Trivia collectors: Olivia de Havilland rode a horse in the movie called Golden Cloud. It later became extremely famous after Roy Rogers bought it and renamed it Trigger; the winning of the archery contest when Robin splits an arrow with his own arrow was not trick camera work but actual expert marksmanship by professional archer Howard Hill, who appears in the movie as Owen the Welshman, one of the archers defeated in the tournament.

Main Cast

Errol Flynn ... Robin Hood
Olivia de Havilland ... Maid Marian
Basil Rathbone ... Sir Guy of Gisbourne
Claude Rains ... Prince John
Patric Knowles ... Will Scarlet
Eugene Pallette ... Friar Tuck
Alan Hale, Sr. ... Little John
Melville Cooper ... High Sheriff of Nottingham
Ian Hunter ... King Richard the Lionheart
Una O'Connor ... Bess
Herbert Mundin ... Much the Miller's Son
Montagu Love ... Bishop of the Black Canons
Leonard Willey ... Sir Essex
Robert Noble ... Sir Ralf
Kenneth Hunter ... Sir Mortimer
Robert Warwick ... Sir Geoffrey
Colin Kenny ... Sir Baldwin
Lester Matthews ... Sir Ivor
Harry Cording ... Dickon Malbete
Howard Hill ... Owen the Welshman
Ivan F. Simpson ... Proprietor of Kent Road Tavern


Directors ... Michael Curtiz, William Keighley
Producers ... Hal B. Wallis, Henry Blanke
Production Company ... Warner Bros. Pictures
Story ... Based on the original 'Ivanhoe' story by Sir Walter Scott
Screenplay ... Norman Reilly Raine, Seton I. Miller
Format ... Technicolor
Initial Release ... 14 May 1938
Running Time ... 102 minutes

Academy Awards

Three Wins:
Best Art Direction-Color ... Carl J. Weyl
Best Original Score ... Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Best Film Editing ... Ralph Dawson
One Unsuccessful Nomination:
Best Picture ... Warner Bros.