and Maid Marian
The Adventures of Robin Hood
We really have to take a moment to thank the late great James Cagney. The success of the unlikely cast in WB's adaptation of Shakespeare's A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM in 1935 prompted the studio to seriously consider them for a remake of Douglas Fairbanks Sr's silent masterpiece ROBIN HOOD. Cagney would play Robin, while Frank McHugh, Guy Kibbee, Hugh Herbert, and other Warner character staples would comprise his band of Merry Men. Due to a contractual dispute later that year, Cagney walked out on Warners. That was just when Flynn scored big with Captain Blood. Who says timing isn't everything?
Actress Anita Louise was slated to play opposite Errol Flynn in the role of Maid Marian. Originally Olivia De Havilland was considered, as plans for the film were being laid out at the time of CAPTAIN BLOOD's run. But as drafts and plans progressed over the next year, the choice settled on Louis, no doubt because she was appearing with Flynn in THE GREEN LIGHT, the studio's latest success. Flynn's buddy David Niven wanted to part of Will Scarlet, but was filming in England as plans for production congealed, and Patrick Knowles stepped in. It was Alan Hale Sr.'s second time out as Little John; Hale had originally portrayed the character in the Fairbanks version back in 1922.
Filming was done during the fall of 1937 in a local park, on the backlot, but for the most part up in Chico CA. The studio had a large area of property up there used for many films which required extensive exterior shots (other Flynn films shot in Chico include CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE, THEY DIED WITH THEIR BOOTS ON, and OBJECTIVE, BURMA!)
Keighly directed because ADV OF RH was to be shot in Technicolor, a rare process at the time (Full, 3-strip Technicolour was still a relatively new and costly process; it was used in small amounts, as in cartoons and shorts); Keighley had directed WB's first 3-Strip Technicolour feature. William Keighley, who had previously directed The Prince & the Pauper, was replaced with Mike Curtiz when execs felt that the latter could turn out more engaging material.
Max Steiner was set to compose the score when Korngold was in Vienna. But when the film's release date was held up - topped with the political climate getting a little hot in Austria, Korngold came over.
Much research was done to compile the various Robin hood stories and adapt the most memorable events, including Robin & Little John's quarterstaff competition, the archery tournament, Friar Tuck carrying Robin across the river on his back, etc. The studio engaged the services of world famous archer Howard Hill, who trained Errol Flynn and did stunt shots; Hill also played Captain of the archers, and competes with Robin during the tournament. The two became very good friends as a result of this film.
A jousting sequence shot to open the film and establish the characters, their rivalries, etc. was cut when it was determined that it would detract from the archery tournament to occur later in the film. Stills and the script of these missing scenes still exist (expect to see new pages with Video & book resource info to be added to this site sometime during the week).
There are three sequences which folks enjoy recalling above the others:
Robin's classic duel with Sir Guy to the death.
Video and laserdisc availability? You bet! A 50th Anniversary edition laserdisc was released in 1988 with narrated footage of production scenes, including outtakes from the climactic swordplay. It is available on the web from Voyagerco.
An epic is going to have tributes, and THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD is no exception. Here are a few sites devoted to this great film:
Flynn & de Havilland the way fans like to remember them.
and may not be used without permission