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The Adventures of Robin Hood(1938)
In Michael Curtiz's swashbuckling spectacle about the infamous outlaw and his band of merry men who "robbed from the rich and gave to the poor," Robin Hood (Errol Flynn) fights nobly for justice against the evil Sir Guy of Gisbourne (Basil Rathbone) while striving to win the hand of the beautiful Maid Marian (Olivia de Havilland). Flynn joyously embraces the role widely considered the best of his bountiful array of swashbuckling legends. Delivering his lines and performing dashing acrobatics (he did most of his own stunts) with breezy elan, he darts across the intricate sets of The Adventures of Robin Hood as if there are rocket boosters secreted in his tights. It was one of the earliest films to use three-colour Technicolor and, at the time, the most expensive film Warner Bros. had produced. Erich Wolfgang Korngold's outstanding score won an Oscar, as did the art direction and the editing.
For more about The Adventures of Robin Hood and the The Adventures of Robin Hood Blu-ray release, see the The Adventures of Robin Hood Blu-ray Review published by Greg Maltz on March 18, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Directors: Michael Curtiz, William Keighley
Writers: Seton I. Miller, Norman Reilly Raine
Starring: Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Basil Rathbone, Claude Rains, Patric Knowles, Eugene Pallette
» See full cast & crew
The Adventures of Robin Hood Blu-ray Review
Proving once again old school and new school are the same when it comes to Blu-ray disc, an Errol Flynn classic hits the bullseye in 1080p.
Reviewed by Greg Maltz, March 18, 2009
After receiving much praise for Blu-ray releases of Casablanca, How the West Was Won and The Searchers, Warner hit an in-the-park home run with an Errol Flynn classic from 1938. We can forgive the fact that it came out on HD DVD first. The Adventures of Robin Hood showcases a charming young Flynn in full swashbuckling mode--only instead of his adventures on the high seas, this time he sports green tights, a feather in his cap, shows expertise in archery and steals from the rich to give to the poor. Viewers will no doubt vary in their ability to get past the dated speech, sets and styles, the film is excellent. Not only is Flynn at his best, but Olivia De Haviland, and Basil Rathbone shine in wonderful supporting roles. An adventure, a love story and a tale of morality, The Adventures of Robin Hood is a great family movie from a more innocent time. Director Michael Curtiz of Casablanca fame gets all the right shots and performances from his cast. With a bevvy of bonus featurettes and a technicolor transfer that traverses time, the Blu-ray comes strongly recommended.
It's interesting to see just how little has changed in the Hollywood formula. Certainly, films have become faster, louder and more gratuitous in many ways, but the underlying formula today and in Flynn's time was basically the same. Set up a hero, develop a challenge or set of hurdles and have him face off against a villain, throw in a love interest and they all live happily ever after. The story of Robin Hood works very well--even in a Shakespearean sense--so transferring the plot and drama to the screen has been done again and again: from Flynn's graceful, triumphant lead to a Disney adaptation to Kevin Coster's attempt to the new TV series. The Adventures of Robin Hood is the definitive version that covers all major exploits. The sparring between Robin Hood and Little John, the stealing of taxes from the palace coffers, the archery contest in which Robin Hood splits an arrow, the swooning and engaging encounters with Maid Marian (Olivia de Havilland) and the face-off against the diabolical Sir Guy of Gisbourne (Basil Rathbone)--it's all there for a new generation of viewers to enjoy like never before in this fantastic Blu-ray edition.
The inclusion of director Michael Curtiz is another noteworthy element of the film. Forever known for his masterpiece, Casablanca, which is also an excellent Warner Blu-ray release, Curtiz was not Warner's first choice for The Adventures of Robin Hood. The job had initially gone to William Keighley, who had worked well with Flynn during production of The Prince and the Pauper. But the studio was not impressed with Keighley's progress. Having directed two Flynn films, The Charge of the Light Brigade and Captain Blood, Curtiz was the logical choice to replace Keighley. Curtiz's trademark character relationships are all over the Robin Hood film, from the cartoonish Sheriff of Nottingham (Melville Cooper) to the intrigue between Maid Marian and Robin Hood to the strong yet subtle moral exposition behind the story of stealing from the rich to give to the poor.
The Adventures of Robin Hood Blu-ray, Video Quality
Many of Warner's blasts from the past are transferred from the best available sources and rendered with terrific detail on Blu-ray. The Adventures of Robin Hood follows suit. The vibrant Technicolor presentation may appeal more to the gamer crowd and animation fans, ironically enough because the colors are over the top, as if digitally enhanced. But there are few telltale signs of digital manipulation. Brightness and contrast seem to be pumped up and edges seem to be enhanced but it's not a result of tinkering with the VC-1 transfer. There are no washed out areas or enhancement artifacts. More importantly, this is the way Technicolor movies were supposed to look 70 years ago. As for the film grain, it's there but barely visible and never intrusive. Noise and dust specs are also minimal. Warner did a hell of a job cleaning up this gem.
There are two schools of thought about noise: 1. get rid of it without sacrificing the soul of the picture and 2. leave it in to allow audiences to get as close as possible to the source material. Studios invariably go for the cleaner approach for Blu-ray, and as long as the picture is not totally DNR'ed, it has paid off. The Adventures of Robin Hood is a prime example. Watch the scene where Robin Hood appears up on a hill along the road where Maid Marian and the others are riding. The colors are so vibrant they pop off the screen. Skin tones appear more subdued than greens, reds and blues. Sherwood Forest in particular comes alive with detail and hues of foliage. Fantastic color is on display throughout, sourced from the original Technicolor.
The Adventures of Robin Hood Blu-ray, Audio Quality
To Warner's credit, Casablanca's sound was not overprocessed by the development of a multichannel track. And in fact the sonic merits of the Dolby Digital track are good, considering the aging source material. Dialog and music have good presence although the voices do not appear open as in well-recorded, modern films. The depth was lacking, as the soundstage was not just narrow, due to the lack of stereophonics (it's a monaural mix), but also shallow in terms of front-to-back imaging.
The audio is clean but without the definition apparent in the video. The prevailing view at Warner and among many HT fanatics is that older movies do not deserve a high definition, lossless audio track. I don't subscribe to that fallacy. There is tremendous detail to mine in old analog recordings, and The Adventures of Robin Hood qualifies as a worthy title. Two things about the DD track bother me. First, it ignores the capabilities of the Blu-ray format and does not even attempt to deliver superior audio resolution to Blu-ray adopters shelling out significantly more money to replace Warner's DVD titles. Secondly, the mono isn't assigned to the center channel but to the front L/R as if the audio engineers are still targeting stereo systems of the 20th century. Someone needs to send Warner a welcome note to the new millenium. Warner needs to understand that its target audience now has a center channel speaker.
The Adventures of Robin Hood Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Blu-ray release includes gobs of bonus material--more than the average Robin Hood fan would ever care to watch--including some HD content.
Audio Commentary--The now obligatory commentary provided on this release is by film historian Rudy Behlmer, who comments on many other classics released on DVD. Not the most exciting speaker, there is no denying he really knows his history and technical as well as Hollywood details and there are many nuggets to mine for serious fans of The Adventures of Robin Hood.
Alternate Viewing Mode--This selection allows access to various featurettes and alternate options such as the very retro and rather self-promotional "Warner Night at the Movies". This option, introduced by Leonard Maltin, basically presents the film as a movie theater program, harkening back to the styles of 70 years ago when the film was actually produced. Complete with vintage newsreel, a musical interlude by Freddie Rich and His Orchestra; Katnip Kollege, a cartoon presented in 1080p and a theatrical trailer for Angels with Dirty Faces.
Welcome to Sherwood: The Story of "The Adventures of Robin Hood"--For the movie's 65th anniversary in 2003, Warner produced this one-hour documentary. It features the only surviving member of the film crew, art director Gene Allen. In addition, the studio assembled notable film historians, writers, and other pros, including Rudy Behlmer, Leonard Maltin, Robert Osborne, Paula Sigman, Bob Thomas, and music expert John Mauceri. The documentary is in NTSC.
Glorious Technicolor--A one-hour documentary narrated by Angela Lansbury showcasing the history of Technicolor. After achieving great popularity in the 1940s, the process began to fall out of favor and after the 1960s, no studio was using it. Unfortunately, the documentary is in standard definition.
Robin Hood Through the Ages--a seven-minute documentary showcasing a few instructive looks at earlier screen adaptations that most of us have never heard of before from the silent era of the '20s.
Video Archive--Warner has thrown together eight minutes worth of outtakes along with a 14-minute bloopers featurette. An interesting look at the sweet art of film production gone slightly awry circa 1938, sans sound.
A Journey to Sherwood Forest--A sort of rag-tag assembly of footage from film production on the set and home movies featuring the principles.
The Robin Hood Radio Show--A throwback to radio programming of yesteryear, this audio-only featurette showcases the adventures of Robin Hood sans video.
Erich Wolfgang Korngold Score--An audio track of the Oscar-winning score is presented in its entirety. Several alternate takes of the Korngold piano sessions are also included. Like the audio of the feature presentation, the content is in DD monaural.
Still Gallery: Splitting the Arrow--A high-res photo gallery fully navigatable with more stills than you can shoot an arrow at. The shots include cast and crew on the set and costumes.
Rabbit Hood--Warner cartoon featuring Bugs Bunny.
Robin Hood Daffy--Warner cartoon featuring with Daffy Duck.
Two Short Films--Cavalcade of Archery and The Cruise of the Zaca.
Theatrical Trailers--Rounding out the bonus content is a gallery of Errol Flynn trailers in high definition, including The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Charge of the Light Brigade and Captain Blood.
The Adventures of Robin Hood Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Thankfully, Warner is not ignoring its 60+ year old films in its rollout of catalog titles, with Casablanca already released on Blu-ray and The Wizard of Oz coming soon. In its Blu-ray release of The Adventures of Robin Hood Warner hits the bullseye with another worthy addition, well produced, with great entertainment value, showcasing the charm and energy of one of the most legendary actors to ever grace the silver screen: Errol Flynn. Highly recommended.
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The Adventures of Robin Hood Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Today on Blu-ray - August 26th - August 26, 2008
Stop-motion animation is somewhat of a rare entertainment medium nowadays. The amount of effort needed to create a feature-length presentation is so massive that even legendary claymation studio Aardman used CGI for their latest feature film 'Flushed Away' (which ...
• The Adventures of Robin Hood Comes to Blu-ray - July 2, 2008
Warner Home Video has announced that they are bringing the 1938 Academy Award-winning film 'The Adventures of Robin Hood' to Blu-ray on August 26th. The film was initially released in high definition on HD DVD, and this is one of the Warner "make-up" titles that ...
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