Film Review: The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)

Release Date: May 12th, 1938 (New York City premiere)
Directed by: Michael Curtiz, William Keighley
Written by: Norman Reilly Raine, Seton I. Miller, Rowland Leigh
Music by: Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Cast: Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Basil Rathbone, Claude Rains, Una O’Connor, Patrick Knowles, Eugene Pallette, Alan Hale Sr., Melville Cooper

Warner Bros., 102 Minutes

Review:

“Why, you speak treason!” – Lady Marian Fitzswalter, “Fluently.” – Robin Hood

I’m actually kind of shocked that I haven’t reviewed this yet, which means it’s been far too long since I’ve seen it. This was one of my favorite “old” movies when I was a kid and I probably watched it dozens of times throughout the years, as my mum and granmum always had classic movie channels on.

This is also the movie that introduced me to Errol Flynn, one of my all-time favorite actors, and the swashbuckling subgenre of action and adventure films.

Beyond that, this also introduced me to Basil Rathbone and Claude Rains, two actors that were mostly known for being horror icons. However, in this picture, Rathbone proves that he’s much more skilled than that and especially while wielding a sword.

With that, this isn’t the first time that Rathbone and Flynn are both wielding swords against one another. They had an epic and memorable duel in Captain Blood, which was also directed by this film’s director, Michael Curtiz. Flynn and Rathbone just make perfect rivals and their sword work is pretty exceptional in a time where the actors had to get out there and do it on the screen without quick edits, special effects and the level of fight choreography and stunt people Hollywood has at its disposal now.

The final duel between the two legends may even be better in this movie, as they have their final showdown in a castle and use that environment pretty well, where in Captain Blood, their duel was on a beach.

I’ve also got to mention Olivia de Havilland, who is stunning and wonderful in this, as Marian. Still to this day, she’s my favorite Marian and a lot of that has to do with her style and grace, which is why she was also one of the most sought after actresses of her time.

Claude Rains is pretty much perfect too. He’s such a devious little shit and really delivers the best performance he could’ve given. Being that he’s immensely talented and owns every role he’s ever had, he made a great villain as King John (not Prince John, mind you).

The story is good, quick paced and just moves from great moment to great moment. The animated Disney film probably borrowed most from this version of the Robin Hood legend. So if you’re familiar with that movie, this will all feel very similar.

In the end, this is still one of the best swashbuckling adventure movies ever made.

Rating: 9.25/10

Film Review: Adventures of Don Juan (1948)

Also known as: The New Adventures of Don Juan (UK)
Release Date: December 1st, 1948
Directed by: Vincent Sherman
Written by: Herbert Dalmas, George Oppenheimer, Harry Kurnitz
Music by: Max Steiner
Cast: Errol Flynn, Viveca Lindfors, Robert Douglas

Warner Bros., 110 Minutes

the-adventures-of-don-juanReview:

Ever since I was a little kid, I have loved Adventures of Don Juan. It is a swashbuckling political romance film starring one of my all-time favorites, Errol Flynn. Also, it has an amazing score and is capped off by a fantastic sword fight.

Vincent Sherman’s direction, in this film, was stellar. While he may not gel in the same way that Michael Curtiz did with Flynn, he still gets the most out of the legendary actor, as well as the other players.

Originally, Max Steiner was not set to be the man behind the film’s score but Erich Wolfgang Korngold retired while production was delayed. Adventures of Don Juan greatly benefits from Steiner’s score. The main theme is one of the best in cinema history. It is also pretty recognizable to fans of The Goonies, as it appears in that film multiple times.

Errol Flynn looks like he is having a lot of fun in this picture. His chemistry with female lead Viveca Lindfors is really good but then again, he always has great chemistry with his leading ladies. This is probably why he was the perfect choice to play Don Juan.

The villainous Duke de Lorca, played by Robert Douglas, was a perfect foil for Flynn’s Don Juan. Their final duel was close to perfection. It also added in an extra element when both men fought with swords and daggers.

The film also had good special effects and impressive stunts. In fact, the scene where Don Juan rips a gigantic flaming curtain down, in an effort to thwart off the castle guards, looked dangerous as hell.

Adventures of Don Juan is a well-weaved tapestry. Everything just works and it is an exciting movie that moves at a great pace and delivers on action and humor. It also looks beautiful in the process.

Rating: 9/10

Film Review: Captain Blood (1935)

Release Date: December 28th, 1935 (USA)
Directed by: Michael Curtiz
Written by: Casey Robinson
Based on: Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini
Music by: Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Cast: Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Basil Rathbone, Ross Alexander

Cosmopolitan Productions, Warner Bros. Pictures, 119 Minutes

captain-bloodReview:

Captain Blood is quite possibly the most important swashbuckling film in history. It is what really ignited the genre and turned it into a guaranteed money maker for years to come. It also launched the career of the great Errol Flynn, as it was his first, of many, leading roles. The film opened the door for his co-stars Basil Rathbone, who would have a legendary career, and Olivia de Havilland, who would win an Oscar for To Each His Own.

Directed by the quite accomplished Michael Curtiz, who also directed Casablanca, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Mildred Pierce and a ton of other great films, Captain Blood might be the ultimate epic of his voluminous and impressive catalog.

The movie follows Dr. Peter Blood. It starts as he is arrested unjustly for treason while tending to an injured soldier of a rebellion. The story then follows his trial, his being sold into slavery in Jamaica, his escape and ultimately his metamorphosis into Captain Blood, leader of a band of pirates. A lot happens in the picture and thus, it moves along at a quick pace and fills its two hours nicely.

Flynn does a superb job as the uber cool and incredibly smooth Peter Blood. Basil Rathbone is tremendous as his ally then bitter rival, in what is one of my all-time favorite Rathbone roles. I honestly wish he had more screen time or even a spin-off film. However, spin-offs weren’t too common in 1935. Olivia de Havilland is alluring as the leading lady and even though her motivations aren’t the clearest, you feel as if she is a kind and genuine person despite being involved with slave owners and a corrupt government.

The cinematography, for its time, is beautiful. Often times, lesser-made swashbuckling films come off as too dark and grainy. Captain Blood was well lit and visually, came off as crisp and clean.

If you are into swashbuckling movies but haven’t given this a watch, you really need to. I’d rather be absorbed in this than another Disney Pirates of the Caribbean movie.

Rating: 10/10