British Isles Friday logoWelcome to British Isles Friday! British Isles Friday is a weekly event for sharing all things British and Irish — reviews, photos, opinions, trip reports, guides, links, resources, personal stories, interviews, and research posts. Join us each Friday to link your British and Irish themed content and to see what others have to share. The link list is at the bottom of this post. Pour a cup of tea or lift a pint and join our link party!

Last week, I needed a quick short post and went with an exploration of the word tickety-boo (I watched Season 4 of Luther this week — tough-guy Luther used “tickety-boo” once in a way that was clearly tongue-in-cheek). Heather reviewed Seducing the Marquess, a Regency novel with a twist. Sim’s virtual wandering in London took us to where her mom grew up in Hayes, complete with charming family photos. Karen reviewed The Old Devil by Kingsley Amis — the 1986 Booker Prize winner.  Jean reviewed The Shuttle, a title that I never heard of by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

The Adventures of Robin Hood

The Adventures of Robin Hood from 1938, starring Errol Flynn and Olivia de Haviland

After watching Olivia de Havilland in Midsummer Night’s Dream and both Olivia de Havilland and Errol Flynn in Captain Blood, the next natural step was to watch The Adventures of Robin Hood with Errol Flynn as Robin Hood and Olivia de Havilland as Lady Marian.

My first exposure to Robin Hood was The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle. I associate that with Grandpa Weese, so I’m going to assume that I read the same copy that he read as a child. I have no idea where that volume ended up. The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood was originally published in 1883. I’m not sure how old I was when I read it, but pretty young because I just realized a misconception that I’ve had all these years.

I assumed that Robin Hood was an invention of Howard Pyle, like Scrooge is an invention of Charles Dickens and Mr. Darcy an invention of Jane Austen. Nope. Robin Hood is a legend, possibly based in history, like King Arthur. I was surprised to learn in the very thorough Wikipedia article about Robin Hood that even though he’s popularly associated with the reign of Richard the Lionheart and the petty and spiteful Prince John, both the earliest forms of the legend and the history (if any) point to a later time, possibly during the reigns of King Edward I or King Edward II.

The Adventures of Robin Hood is firmly entrenched in the popular culture version. Basil Rathbone plays the dastardly Sir Guy of Gisbourne and Claude Raines is Prince John. I assume that it won’t be a spoiler for anyone to learn that Richard the Lionheart makes an appearance near the end of the film. King Richard was one of the most famous roles of affable character actor, Ian Hunter. I can’t remember seeing the film before, but I’m very glad to have it in my imaginings of Robin Hood now. This is a brighter and more fun version of the story than the one that featured Kevin Costner.

Released in 1938, The Adventures of Robin Hood is only three years later than Midsummer Night’s Dream and Captain Blood, but the production values are a big leap into the modern age with vivid color, glorious costumes, and more realistic sets. The sound was good, too, but I can never tell if that’s because of the original production or something that’s been enhanced in the preservation.

What’s your favorite way to enjoy the Robin Hood legend?



The Adventures of Robin Hood #FilmReview #BriFri — 8 Comments

  1. I love Robin Hood! I thought he was only a legend until my husband and I went to the UK in 1996 on an almost-honeymoon trip. We visited Sheffield because we knew a guy there who would let us stay with him, and he took us to Haworth Parsonage, where the Brontes once lived. Little John is buried in the churchyard, apparently. O.o There’s a modern stone, and a very old stone is invisible under a yew that has gotten very large. There used to be relics in the church too. I was very surprised. Who knows what the real story is, but I thought it was completely made up.

    My favorite RH book is Roger Lancelyn Green’s. He did a wonderful job, IMO.

    Here in my town, the Errol Flynn movie is a very big deal! It’s shown regularly in the park and there’s a mural downtown and a street named Warner, because our park was Sherwood Forest. That giant tree the Merry Men frolic in was a historic landmark before it died, and my kids play in the creek where Robin and Little John have their battle. So everybody here loves that movie. 🙂

    I did another Fairie Queene post. Just about halfway!

  2. Pingback: British Isles Friday – the latest Tana French novel | Novel Meals

  3. I’ve seen this version too and I can say, I like it better than the Kevin Costner film too. I didn’t mind the one starring Russell Crowe but, I am a fan of Crowe.

    When we visited England I was educated that it is indeed a legend and not a creation of an author. This makes me want to get the movie again, I haven’t seen it in a while.

  4. One of my favorite movies! Little John was played by Alan Hale Sr., whose son Alan Hale Jr. played the skipper on Gilligan’s Island. Despite being a twisted and treasonous person, Errol Flynn is one of my favorite all-time actors as well.

  5. I have a book of my mothers, given to her in 1938 by her Aunt Glad. Robin Hood and His Merry Men “Retold by Sara Hawks Sterling” It’s a wonderful sturdy old book with a thick cover and nice big yellow-with-age pages and several lovely full color illustrations throughout. My mother would have been 13 at the time; it makes me smile to know that Robin Hood wasn’t meant just for boys.

    As far as Robin Hood films go, I want to see the Russell Crowe/Cate Blanchett version. Diana Scrivener, who also did the choreography for Downton Abbey, War & Peace with Lily James and James Norton, Hugo etc, choreographed a very sexy looking dance number for Robin & his lady!

  6. Well, I was going to give you a link to something completely different…but having read your post, I thought maybe you’d like to see a bit about Robin Hood country. Errol Flynn, surely, is most people’s ideal picture of Robin; alas and alac, the reality may have been somewhat different. I wonder if the ‘real’ Robin had the same appetites as Errol? 🙂 All the best.

  7. Oh, I love that movie! And I really *love* the soundtrack. I also really love the Disney film. I think the Disney film and the Errol Flynn film go great together 😉

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