Wanna smile? A lot? Rent this movie. Watching this adventure flick, I was a kid again. I was grinning the whole time, getting all excited, sometimes needing to restrain myself from jumping up and prancing around. I just LOVED this movie! The uplifting score, the glorious Technicolor cinematography, the heroics of Errol Flynn… It all gels to perfection and makes the viewer regress to childhood. It makes you grab a stick or anything and pretend to be in a swordfight, then put your fists on your hips and laugh heartily. The movie was directed by Michael Curtiz (taking over after William Keighley proved unable to make the action exciting), just a few years before he made “Casablanca”, and you can feel the man’s undying love of cinema. That’s the thing with a lot of movies from the 1930s and ’40s; they have a sense of innocence, a lack of irony and cynicism that’s very refreshing.

Unlike the recent Robin Hood flick starring Kevin Costner, “The Adventures of Robin Hood” doesn’t try to be gritty and realistic. It’s not an accurate depiction of medieval times, it’s an over the top adventure in a fairy tale world in which men prance around in bright colored tights and hats, in which there is trouble and danger, but also a hero nearby who is there to save and protect the good people of England. You know the story, King Richard the Lionheart has gone on a crusade and has been captured, leaving his sneaky brother Prince John (Claude Rains) and the crooked Sir Guy of Gisbourne (Basil Rathbone) to reign over his land. A real pair of tyrants, they robs, tortures and kill peasants for greed and power. Fortunately, from the woods of Sherwood rise a brave, reckless man, Sir Robin of Locksley (Flynn), who gave up his property and title to help his fellow Saxons, stealing from the rich to give to the poor. With his band of merry men, he’ll keep on keeping on until England is safe again and Richard is back on his throne…

You really have to check this one out. To watch Errol Flynn is to love Errol Flynn. Whether he’s caught in a duel, making inspirational speeches in front of his men, shooting arrows through enemy guards with perfect aim, or romancing Maid Marian (Olivia de Havilland), Flynn is pure charisma. Like a John Wayne or a Humphrey Bogart, he’s a true movie star, equal parts casual charm and badass attitude. The rest of the cast is also colorful and fun, but there’s no doubt that this is Flynn’s game. Yet it’s even more enjoyable that the movie serves him so well. He could light up the corniest action flick, but here he’s surrounded by great talent. Erich Wolfgang Korngold‘s Oscar winning score is always there to spruce up things, the editing is quick and precise and the art direction creates a world of castles and villages in which we wish we could live. Altogether, “The Adventures of Robin Hood” is celluloid proof that you don’t need ultra-violence, foul language or explicit sex to cook up great action and romance. This is a movie that will thrill kids of all ages.

Title: The Adventures of Robin Hood
Year: 1938
Director: Michael Curtiz, William Keighley
Writer: Norman Reilly Rain, Seton I. Miller
Genre: Action / Adventure