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Errol Flynn as an old-fashioned Robin of Locksley

Claude Rains as PJ with bangs and a colorful Basil Rathbone as Sir Guy.

The 1938 version of Robin Hood demonstrates they did know how to swash their buckles back in the day.
One of the things I appreciate about this version is the fact Gisborne, played by a very suave and attractive Basil Rathbone, is actually shown as a good swordsman. I love the fights between Rathbone and Errol Flynn as Robin and it is clearly them doing the brunt of it, not stunt doubles.

In the BBC RH they always seemed to make Guy look like a numpty with his sword, which seemed rather unlikely given he worked for the sheriff. I can’t see Sherry making him his master-at-arms if he was incompetent, no matter how much the Treacherous Troll enjoyed ogling Guy in his leathers. The numpty in this film is the Sheriff, who comes off as a complete buffoon. Prince John, as played by the ever-dependable Claude Rains, is deliciously nasty.

I admit seeing Errol Flynn in tights made me rather long to see Mr. Armitage in a similar costume–but ditch the little hat with the feather, please. Not that I would want Guy to give up all that buttery soft black leather. But the tights would look fetching.

The 1938 version was shot in glorious technicolor and they pulled out all the stops in the costume department in terms of colors–royal purple, emerald green, bright gold, cherry red, turquoise. You almost feel the need to put your sunglasses on. It is a rousing adventure with lots of action and derring-do, and a vein of humor running throughout. Robin is in a truly heroic mold here. I know the BBC version was supposed to be Robin for a new generation, that each generation has their own interpretation of the legend. Obviously I am hopelessly old-fashioned.
This chick prefers a Robin who isn’t a petulant, smug braggart sporting a boy band haircut and a hoodie. I’m just sayin’ . . . (photos courtesy of Google Images)

Welcome To Sherwood! Robin Hood of 1938

17 responses »

  1. Guess who has been really naughty and just ordered 3 seasons of Robin Hood on DVD!
    I need to dive in a see what all the hoopla is about, although I have glimsed at Guy through the prismat his adoring fans 🙂 I hope I won’t encounter costumes like the ones above though. The glorious technicolor era of movies is where they belong 🙂

    • I have the boxed set myself. No, I assure you the palette for the 2006 RH is quite a bit more subdued than the 1938 version. 😉 Of course it also has camo pants, hoodies and Marian performing tai chi in cute little cardigane and running around the forest in gaucho pants and a corsety-looking thing. Just a bit anachronistic. But then there’s Guy. Glorious, swaggering, smouldering, sneering, smirking, sexy-as-hell Guy. In snug head-to-toe black leather. YUMMMMMM.

  2. I adore this movie and I have been mesmerized by Basil Rathbone after I watched him as GoG.
    Rathbone is shockingly elegant and gentlemanlike in his overly coloured clothing.
    This Sir G. is more fashionable than Robin, with his funny tights and spangles all over his tunic.

    Rathbone and Flynn’s sword fighting is considered legendary. At least, they fight at the same level in this celebrated scene.
    On the contrary, every fight in BBC’s RH is excessively frustrating for Sir G. He gets a sound beating in every single episode, in particular when the lovely Marian is disguised as the NightWatchman.
    Poor thing, what a hard life for the handsome henchman!!

    • Yes, Basil carries off the peacock-coloured costumes very well. He had the gravitas–not unlike someone else we know–to make it work. Errol is gorgeous and athletic, but the sequined costume he wore before he turned outlaw was pretty goofy. 😉 I was imagining Jonas in such a getup and got a right old case of the giggles. 😀

      Yes, equally matched–something we never saw in the recent RH. Sir Guy was never allowed to come out on top in any fight–unless you consider his cutting the Nighwatchman with the poisoned blade a victory. It was very hard for the Hot Velveteen Henchman.

      • Killer thighs in tights…*gulp* Black leather and snug jeans(especially snug, WET jeans) are dangerous enough to my equilibrium, thanks angie!

        • I am afraid when I recently re-watched Spooks 8 I did a rewind and a pause when it came to Lucas’s little pool punch up with Robinov *snicker.* Those black jeans, wet and molded to his body, and the shot of him from behind–featuring the killer thighs and peaches of pleasure . . . *gulp*

      • I’m guilty of screencapping furiously through that scene; any shot that showcased his form *cough* was fair game. I have also been known to slo-mo/pause through that same scene. Several times in one sitting actually…

        • Who says women don’t enjoy looking? In fact, I think it would be a shame and disgrace if we, when presented with such an excellent example of genetic perfection, failed to recognise and acknowledge said superiority? 😉

      • I seriously believe the continuing appreciation of his genetic perfection is essential if we want to maintain our high level of Richarding skills.

  3. Actually, I saw the film when it was first remastered. I recall that rather than being shot with colour film, each frame was hand-coloured. I may need to research that to see if I remember correctly. I did recognize some of the locations as Golden Gate Park in SanFrancisco CA.

    • They didn’t mention that about the hand-colouring on Turner Classic, but the colour was certainly very, very bright. 😉 Yes, it was shot in California, but to make it more like England, they imported English vegetation and painted the grass a deeper green.

  4. I didn’t come across this version of Robin Hood until I was an adult.
    As a child though, I loved the old black and white tv series with Richard Greene, which I think screened here in the early 60’s. I still remember the theme song!

    • While I was visiting my sister recently, I saw the old black and white Greene series for the first time. It thought it was interesting they had a ensemble of players who played different supporting roles in the eps. I recognised a very young Paul Eddington among them.

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