Friday, May 21, 2010

Musings on Robin Hood

I've just seen the new Robin Hood movie and it has inspired a spurt of Robin Hood nostalgia in me.

First, let me return to the days of yesteryear, when the British half-hour series The Adventures of Robin Hood was one of my favorite TV shows. Starring Richard Greene, the show had a memorable theme song that I still remember:

Robin Hood, Robin Hood, riding through the glen
Robin Hood, Robin Hood, with his band of men
Feared by the bad, loved by the good;
Robin Hood, Robin Hood, Robin Hood!

Too bad I can't reproduce the catchy tune in this blog, but I guarantee that any of you who grew up in the 50s-60s remember it, too. I'd say a lot of my idealism goes back to those days of viewing brave Robin steal from the rich to give to the poor...Ah, how my romantic notions were fed by the idylls of Robin and Maid Marian, with Friar Tuck, Little John, and the other Merry Men cavorting in Sherwood Forest, making fools out of the Sheriff of Nottingham and King John and their evil minions.

(It now occurs to me that King John somehow appeared in a lot of those episodes--strange his predilection for traveling repeatedly to that part of his kingdom and dealing with these lowly subjects, when so many other parts of England and more noble subjects must have been much more to his taste....)

I love almost all the versions of Robin Hood I've seen so far:
  • The 1938 Errol Flynn film (The Adventures of Robin Hood), which many critics consider the benchmark of Robin Hood cinema, with Flynn in his most famous role;
  • The 1952 Disney film The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men, starring Richard Todd;
  • Disney's 1973 animated Robin Hood (a favorite of my daughter's childhood), in which Robin Hood is a fox;
  • 1976's Robin and Marian, showing the legendary couple in their golden years (and what a couple--the leading roles were played by Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn);
  • I even liked 1991's Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, despite its star, Kevin Costner (among the most stone-faced of leading men, the other top contenders being Keanu Reeves and Arnold Schwarzenegger), because it had the wonderful Alan Rickman as the Sheriff (whose mesmerizing voice made me almost like the Sheriff);
  • Mel Brooks' 1993 parody Robin Hood: Men in Tights, which hilariously satirizes both the 1938 Flynn version and the 1991 Costner version, stars the delicious Cary Elwes as Robin; his best line is when he turns to the camera and smugly announces, "Unlike some other Robin Hoods, I can speak with an English accent!" (an overt dig at Kevin Costner's American accent in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves).
I found the links for these movies on Wikipedia's List of films and television series featuring Robin Hood. That list is much longer than I expected and I've seen only a few of the entries. I know many of those movies are no longer available, but it may be time for a Robin Hood DVD Festival here at the SphinxInk digs. I see there are lots of different takes on Robin Hood out there, including several TV series that I've completely missed.

As for what I thought of the new Robin Hood, starring Russell Crowe and directed by Ridley Scott, I'll post that tomorrow.

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

I just wasn't sure we needed another Robin Hood, although it looked fairly cool in the previews. Looking forward to your take.