AFI Movie Club: THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD – American Film Institute



Brought to life by an all-star cast that includes Olivia de Havilland, Basil Rathbone, Claude Rains and Errol Flynn as the iconic hero, THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD has been celebrated across AFI’s lists, including cinema’s greatest film scores, greatest thrills and, of course, greatest heroes. 

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Watch Steven Spielberg talk about THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD in this exclusive video from the AFI Archive:


DID YOU KNOW? In 1936, when Warner Bros. was first developing the project, James Cagney was 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. 

DID YOU KNOW? Some outdoor shots for THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD were filmed around California’s Sherwood Lake and Sherwood Forest – so named because they’d previously been used as shooting locations for the 1922 ROBIN HOOD, which starred silent film star Douglas Fairbanks as the iconic hero. 

DID YOU KNOW? THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD was not the first pairing of stars Olivia de Havilland and Errol Flynn, nor would it be the last. They first appeared together in 1935’s CAPTAIN BLOOD, and subsequently in a number of other iconic films of Hollywood’s Golden Age – including, among others, THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE, THEY DIED WITH THEIR BOOTS ON and DODGE CITY. 

DID YOU KNOW? Archery expert Howard Hill did the actual trick shooting for the film. The studio paid stunt men and bit players $150 per shot for letting Hill hit them with arrows. 

DID YOU KNOW? Star Errol Flynn did most of his own stunts for the film, with a few notable exceptions – a leap with his hands tied behind his back, another leap onto the back of a horse and his daring swing over the towering Nottingham gate. 

DID YOU KNOW? Alan Hale performed the role of Robin Hood’s pal Little John three times across four decades, opposite three different Robin Hoods ­– in the 1922 version with Douglas Fairbanks, in 1938’s THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD opposite Errol Flynn and in 1950’s adaptation with John Derek. 

DID YOU KNOW? THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD’s Olivia de Havilland was the sister of Joan Fontaine, and both were among the most brightly shining stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Across their illustrious and frequently contentious careers, both women earned competitive Academy Awards® for Best Actress – Fontaine for SUSPICION (with an additional nomination for REBECCA), and de Havilland for TO EACH HIS OWN and THE HEIRESS (with nods for GONE WITH THE WIND, HOLD BACK THE DAWN and THE SNAKE PIT). 

DID YOU KNOW? In addition to her many iconic starring roles across a luminous career, Olivia de Havilland was also a maverick off-screen – challenging the Hollywood studios in court and effectively ending the long-standing system of protracted and restrictive contracts for stars. The judicial opinion became known as the De Havilland Law. A notable figure both on and offscreen, de Havilland passed away in 2020 at the age of 104.

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The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Family-friendly Discussion Questions Join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram now using #AFIMovieClub. Or post your responses in the comment section below.

-With so many cinematic adaptations of ROBIN HOOD, do you have a favorite? What are the essential qualities that are consistent across every incarnation? 

-Why is Robin Hood such an enduring character? 

-What are some words you’d use to describe the aesthetics of THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD? 

-As a hero who goes against the establishment – and is known for robbing from the rich to give to the poor – do you think Robin Hood is relevant at all to the cultural landscape of 2020? Why or why not? 

-What makes Errol Flynn such a notable Robin Hood? 

-How does the production of THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD capture its literary origins? 

-What aspects of THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD have taken on a life of their own beyond the film? Can you think of any times – outside of the film itself – that you’ve encountered references to its enduring aesthetics or sensibilities? 

-How would you rate THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD? 

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