AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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The Adventures of Robin Hood
Alternate Title: Robin Hood
Director: Michael Curtiz (Dir)
Release Date:   14 May 1938
Production Date:   26 Sep 1937--14 Jan 1938
Duration (in mins):   102 or 104
Duration (in reels):   11
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Cast:   Errol Flynn (Robin Hood [also known as Sir Robin of Locksley])  
    Olivia de Havilland (Maid Marian)  
    Basil Rathbone (Sir Guy of Gisbourne)  
    Claude Rains (Prince John)  
    Patric Knowles (Will Scarlett)  
    Eugene Pallette (Friar Tuck)  
    Alan Hale (Little John)  
    Melville Cooper (High Sheriff of Nottingham)  
    Ian Hunter (King Richard the Lion-Heart)  
    Una O'Connor (Bess)  
    Herbert Mundin (Much)  
    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 (Captain of Archers)  
    Ivan Simpson (Proprietor of Kent Road Tavern)  
    Charles McNaughton (Crippen)  
    Lionel Belmore (Humility Prin)  
    Austin Fairman (Sir Nigel)  
    Crauford Kent (Sir Norbert)  
    Reginald Sheffield (Herald at archery tournament)  
    Wilfred Lucas (Archery official)  
    Holmes Herbert (Archer referee)  
    Jack Deery    
    Paul Power    
    Leonard Mudie    
    Edward Dew    
    Sidney Baron    
    Olaf Hytten    
    Val Stanton    
    Ernie Stanton    
    Alec Harford    
    Peter Hobbes    
    Halliwell Hobbes    
    Martin Lamont    
    Hal Brazeale    
    Ivo Henderson    
    John Sutton    

Summary: King Richard the Lion-Heart, who left England to fight in the Crusades, has been taken captive and is being held for ransom. He has entrusted his kingdom to his brother, Prince John, who, along with Sir Guy of Gisbourne and the Sheriff of Nottingham, is plotting to overthrow the throne. At a banquet in John's honor, Sir Robin of Locksley disrupts the proceedings and openly accuses John of treachery. Robin eludes John's knights and hides out in Sherwood Forest, where he gathers a band of men, including Will Scarlett, Little John and Friar Tuck, to protect and provide for the Saxon poor by stealing from the rich. When Gisbourne and the sheriff ride through the forest, accompanied by Richard's ward, the lovely Maid Marian, Robin, who is now known as Robin Hood, kidnaps the royal group, seizes their tax money for Richard, and opens Marian's eyes to the reality of Norman oppression. They are released unharmed, but the enraged sheriff proposes an archery tournament to lure Robin out of Sherwood. The sheriff's trick succeeds, and when Robin accepts his victory prize from Marian, he is caught and sentenced to hang. Marian, now in love with Robin, alerts his men, who save him from the gallows. While Robin secretly visits Marian and confesses his love, Richard rides into Sherwood. He discovers John's plans to be crowned king and enlists Robin's help. At the castle, Gisbourne exposes Marian's allegiance to Robin and imprisons her. The coronation begins on schedule, but Richard's and Robin's men appear from under monks' robes and attack John's knights. In a spectacular sword fight, Gisbourne is killed by Robin. After Richard is restored to his rightful throne, he banishes John and gives Robin and Marian permission to marry. 

Production Company: Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.  
Production Text: A First National Picture
Distribution Company: Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.  
Director: Michael Curtiz (Dir)
  William Keighley (Dir)
  Irving Rapper (Dial dir)
  Lee Katz (Asst dir)
  Jack Sullivan (Asst dir)
Producer: Jack L. Warner (Exec prod)
  Hal B. Wallis (Exec prod)
  Henry Blanke (Assoc prod)
Writer: Norman Reilly Raine (Scr)
  Seton I. Miller (Scr)
  Rowland Leigh (Contr to trmt)
Photography: Tony Gaudio (Photog)
  Sol Polito (Photog)
  W. Howard Greene (Technicolor photog)
  Al M. Greene (Cam op)
Art Direction: Carl Jules Weyl (Art dir)
Film Editor: Ralph Dawson (Film ed)
Costumes: Milo Anderson (Cost)
Music: Leo F. Forbstein (Mus dir)
  Erich Wolfgang Korngold (Mus)
  Hugo Friedhofer (Orch arr)
Sound: Major Nathan Levinson (Rec dir)
  C. A. Riggs (Sd)
Make Up: Perc Westmore (Makeup)
Production Misc: Louis Van Den Ecker (Tech adv)
  Al Alleborn (Unit mgr)
  Mac Julian (Still photog)
  S. Charles Einfeld (Press rep)
Color Personnel: Natalie Kalmus (Technicolor col dir)
  Morgan Padelford (Technicolor assoc)
Country: United States

Source Text: Based on ancient English legends.

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc. 14/3/1938 dd/mm/yyyy LP7986

PCA NO: 3790
Physical Properties: col: Technicolor

Genre: Adventure
Sub-Genre: Historical
Subjects (Major): Great Britain--History
  John I, King of England, 1167-1216
  Richard I, King of England, 1157-1199
  Robin Hood (Legendary character)
Subjects (Minor): Archers and archery
  Sherwood Forest (England)
  Sword fights
  Wards and guardians

Note: A news item in HR reports that in 1935, M-G-M paid $62,500 to the estate of Reginald de Koven for film rights to the music he composed for the operetta Robin Hood . It was the largest sum ever paid by a studio for music rights. M-G-M had previously purchased the book and lyrics of the operetta from Warner Bros., which had owned the rights since the silent days. Despite plans to star Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy, the operetta was never filmed by M-G-M. In 1936 Republic announced a Robin Hood film which was to be filmed in Magnacolor. Wells Root was scheduled to write and direct it. Warner Bros. made The Adventures of Robin Hood for $2,000,000, their biggest budget to date. When Michael Curtiz replaced William Keighley as director halfway through the production, Sol Polito came with Curtiz, replacing photographer Tony Gaudio. HR notes that Keighley directed the location scenes at Chico, CA, while Curtiz directed the rest of the film. According to his autobiography, Hal Wallis replaced Keighley because he felt the action scenes shot by him were ineffective. The cast and crew were on location in Chico's Bidwell Park for six weeks and the archery contest was staged at Busch Gardens in Pasadena, CA. Second unit director B. Reeves Eason was sent to Chico near the end of Oct to film action scenes not involving the principal players in order to shorten the shooting schedule, according to Wallis' autobiography. According to MPD , the voice of Floyd Gibbons was used in the film's trailers. MPD also notes that Warner Bros. planned a sequel to the film, which was to have starred Errol Flynn with Michael Curtiz directing. Film editor Ralph Dawson, art director Carl Weyl and composer Erich Wolfgang Korngold each won an Oscar for their work on this film, which was itself nominated for Best Picture and was named as one of FD 's and NYT 's ten best films of 1938. It was also a top moneymaking film that year, breaking the opening day record at Radio City Music Hall by earning $14,000.
       Modern sources add the following information about the production: In 1936, when Warners was first developing the project, James Cagney was originally intended to star as Robin Hood with Guy Kibbee as Friar Tuck. Jack Warner considered Anita Louise for the part of Marian, while Donald Crisp turned down the part of the Bishop of the Black Canons. Art director Carl Weyl augmented the forest at Bidwell Park in Chico with plaster of Paris trees and rocks. Because grass and brush had been removed as fire hazards, artificial grass was used to replace it. Robin's meeting with Friar Tuck was filmed along Big Chico Creek in the park. Additional outdoor shots were filmed in the nearby Sherwood Lake and Sherwood Forest areas, so named because they were the forest location for the 1922 Robin Hood . Other exteriors were filmed at the Warner Ranch in Calabasas, CA. The crew left Chico on 8 Nov 1937 and shooting finished 15 Jan 1937. Belgian fencing master Fred Cavens and his son Albert tutored the cast in sword and quarterstaff routines. Archery expert Howard Hill did the actual trick shooting. The studio paid stunt men and bit players $150 per shot for letting Hill hit them with arrows. Flynn did most of his own stunts except for a leap with his hands tied behind his back, another leap unto the back of a horse, his swing up the Nottingham gate and his drop to the other side. Although modern sources often refer to this film as Warner Bros. first three-strip Technicolor release, this honor actually goes to Gold Is Where You Find It , which went into production and was released several months earlier. Alan Hale played Little John in the 1922 version of the film and went on to play him again in Rogues of Sherwood Forest , released by Columbia in 1950.
       The story of Robin Hood has been the basis for numerous films. The earliest was a one-reel film made in the United States in 1908 by Kalem about which very little is known. A British film, Robin Hood and His Merry Men , was made the same year. Another version was made by Thanhouser Film Corp. in 1913, starring William Russell. A fourth version was directed by Allan Dwan for United Artists in 1922, starring Douglas Fairbanks. RKO and Walt Disney British Productions co-financed The Story of Robin Hood in 1952. This production starred Richard Todd and was directed by Ken Annakin. In 1961, Columbia released Sword of Sherwood Forest , starring Richard Greene, who also starred in the television series Robin Hood , which was broadcast on the CBS network from 1955-58.
       In 1964, Warner Bros. produced Robin and the Seven Hoods , directed by Gordon Douglas and starring Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr. A British production A Challenge for Robin Hood , was made by Hammer in 1967 and starred Barrie Ingham and Gay Hamilton. This production was directed by C. M. Pennington-Richards. Another film based on the Robin Hood character, The Ribald Tales of Robin Hood , was produced by P.B.S. Co-Mondo in 1969. It was directed by Richard Kanter and starred Ralph Jenkins and Dee Lockwood In 1973 the Walt Disney company released an animated Robin Hood , directed by Wolfgang Reigherman and featuring the voices of Brian Bedford and Peter Ustinov (For additional information on these films, please consult their respective entries below). Robin and Marian made by Columbia in 1976 starred Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn as the aging lovers. In 1991, Morgan Creek released Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves starring Kevin Costner and directed by Kevin Reynolds. An American television version entitled The Adventures of Robin Hood and starring Patrick Bergin and Uma Thurman was released theatrically overseas by 20th Century Fox. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Film Daily   29 Apr 38   p. 8.
Motion Picture Daily   13 Apr 38   p. 2.
Motion Picture Daily   29 Apr 38   p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter   7 Aug 35   p. 1, 4
Hollywood Reporter   25 Sep 37   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   4 Nov 37   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   27 Nov 37   p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter   9 Dec 37   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   26 Apr 38   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   7 May 38   pp. 5-12.
Motion Picture Daily   27 Apr 38   pp. 1-2.
Motion Picture Herald   25 Dec 37   pp. 14-15.
Motion Picture Herald   30 Apr 38   p. 44.
Motion Picture Herald   7 May 38   p. 25.
New York Times   13 May 38   p. 17.
Variety   27 Apr 38   p. 22.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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