The Adventures of Robin Hood (film)/Trivia

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Tropes

  • Deleted Scene: We only see the last part of what was originally a longer sequence of Robin recruiting Friar Tuck. Originally Robin forces Tuck to carry him across the river, then Tuck overcomes Robin and forces him to carry him back, and finally the part seen in the film where Robin regains the advantage. This results in both of them having inexplicably wet legs before they enter the river.
  • Fake Brit: Errol Flynn was Australian.
  • Hey, It's That Horse!: Maid Marian rides a palomino named Golden Cloud. Golden Cloud would later go on to achieve fame as Roy Rogers' Cool Horse Trigger.
  • Notable Original Music: Korngold's lush romantic score, dubbed "Robin Hood in the Vienna Woods" by one wag. Notable for its use of Leitmotif.
  • Production Posse: Shares many key cast (Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Basil Rathbone) and crew (direct Michael Curtiz, composer Erich Korngold, fight arranger Fred Cavens) with Captain Blood.
  • Purple Prose: The original script was full of it, but Curtiz thankfully had it toned down.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: Many people have cited the shots of people being shot with arrows as looking unrealistic. In actuality, stuntmen were paid $150 an arrow to be legitimately shot while wearing protection.
  • Regional Riff: In a variation that might be called a "Temporal Riff," Little John appears whistling a tune called "Sumer is icumen in," the oldest known secular song in English. (Maybe Korngold Did Do The Research.
  • Those Two Actors: This was the third of eight films Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland made together.

Production

The film was originally intended as a vehicle for Jimmy Cagney, who had gained critical approval for playing Bottom the Weaver in Warners' 1935 production of William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream -- but when Cagney walked out on his Warners' contract, the project was retooled to accommodate rising Warners' star Errol Flynn, who had in that same year made a huge impression as the swashbuckling lead of the pirate romance, Captain Blood. Olivia de Havilland, having appeared in both movies, was a natural for the part of Lady Marian. Korngold, too, had been associated with the same two films, as adapter of Felix Mendelssohn's theatrical music for Dream and as composer of a (mostly) original score for Captain Blood. Basil Rathbone, having displayed in Captain Blood as the evil pirate Levasseur a fine talent for fencing and sneering villainy, was tapped to play the part of Sir Guy of Gisbourne. When director William Keighley was determined by the Warner brothers to be too dilatory and measured in his approach to the film, he was replaced with yet another Captain Blood alumnus, hard-driving director Michael Curtiz.

The script, by Seton I. Miller and Norman Reilly Raine, was considerably more faithful to both the matter and the spirit of the original Robin Hood ballads than earlier dramatic versions. This was largely in reaction to the 1924 Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., version, which had focused on a Knight in Shining Armor version of Robin, with much screen time devoted to The Crusades and tournaments and relatively little to the character's woodland outlawry. Early drafts of the script omitted Marian entirely, as Miller insisted that she was not part of the original mythos at all; fortunately, the Rule of Cool (romance division) and the chemistry between Flynn and de Havilland ensured her appearance in the final version. Miller did manage to include many elements of the ballads: the quarterstaff bout between Robin and Little John, Robin forcing Friar Tuck to carry him across the stream, even (delicately, for fear of the Catholic Legion of Decency) Robin's antipathy to bishops, though a sequence showing an exchange of fisticuffs with the disguised King in Sherwood was cut in the final edit. On the other hand, many elements that came into the legend only later were also incorporated into this version, such as the identification of the King with Richard I from the Tudor historian John Major; the treachery of Prince John, the identification of Maid Marian with the King's ward, Lady Fitzwater, Robin's elevation to the nobility, from Anthony Mundy's Elizabethan plays; and the struggle between Normans and Saxons from Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe.

Erich Wolfgang Korngold was initially reluctant to be associated with the "90% action picture"; however, the Warners were insistent, offering extremely generous payment for his services, and he at last agreed, leaving his native Austria just in time to escape its annexation by Those Wacky Nazis in March 1938. The Jewish Korngold was later accustomed to say, "Robin Hood saved my life." It is said that Warners provided a voluminous report on 12th century music to the composer, which he promptly dumped into the wastebasket (but see Regional Riff, below); in the event, Korngold's lush Late Romantic score, characterized by Wagnerian themes and Leitmotiifs, not only won the Academy Award, but set a pattern for Film Music that has lasted down to the days of John Williams and Hans Zimmer.

Other notable talents engaged for the film included fencing master Fred Cavens (yet another veteran of Captain Blood!) to choreograph the duels and champion archer Howard Hill to perform the film's archery (and to appear in the small part of the "Captain of Archers"). There is some debate as to whether Hill actually accomplished the famous shot with which Robin splits an arrow with another arrow (the MythBusters actually tested this one out), but it seems most likely that some form of staging was used. Various stuntmen were paid an extra $150 to allow Hill to shoot them in their specially padded torsos.