DOUGLAS FAIRBANKS IN ROBIN HOOD (1922)
Yes, that's the real title. Oy. Anyway, let's say first off that I'm not a huge fan of silent movies. Specifically the actors in them. And I'd like to say that Fairbanks, one of the biggest and most bankable silent stars, does a bit to combat that. He doesn't. He, in point of fact, sucks. He is worse than Costner. He is worse, probably, than the porn Robin Hood you'll learn about in a few weeks. But I'll have plenty of time to talk about that in the appropriate section. This here's for the movie in general. And it's a horrifyingly deranged never-ending cavalcade of stupidity. Let's go, shall we?
(And his copious ego.)
PLOT: Hoo boy. Let me pop in my DVD here to refresh my memory. Ah, yes, we open with ruins. Then an onscreen title card talks about how great medieval England was. Then an incredibly fey man rides a horse around and goes to the Crusades with his horrible, hairy king. Then everything turns to crap under the evil Prince John, naturally, and Marian, "The Queen of Love and Beauty", whatever the fuck that means, sends to her prancey knight for help. He comes back and saves the kingdom by gadding about like an idiot.
(You got a war face! AHHHHHHH! That's a war face! Now show me yours! BULLSHIT! You didn't convince me! Let me see your REAL war face!)
GENERAL THOUGHTS: I'll say some nice things about it here, because there are some nice things to say. The sets are fantastic, including a huge-ass drawbridge and portcullis that Prancibald climbs up. (I refuse to accept the guy in this movie as Robin Hood, lest my childhood hero be forever tainted. So I call him Prancibald. It fits better.) They also handle crowd scenes well. It's all vey epic and well done. If only they had paid more attention to the script...
(I didn't even have to try to get this. It's just what came up when I paused the DVD.)
PRANCIBALD: Wow. I mean… WOW. I know I made a few gay jokes about Errol Flynn, but this guy legitimately SKIPS everywhere. And his first line is "I am afeared of women." Then a bunch of hot girls try to talk to him, and he injures himself running away. I guess the intent of the skipping was to make him look carefree, and the afeariness to make him suitably chaste, but when you add the tights and the skipping… And he's an idiot. His first attack on the castle involves taunting the guards by doing a song-and-dance in plain view, and he leaves all of his arrows slung around some guy's neck. And when he actually manages to steal some coins? His method of distribution is to toss them in the air. There's a crying baby in that scene. I'm pretty sure it took a coin to the eye.
(In his lusty infancy)
LITTLE JOHN: Begins the movie as Prancibald's squire, hangs with him in Normandy, and then spends most of the movie delivering his mail. He's played by everyone's favorite lusty infant, Alan Hale, who you may recall as the Little John of 1939. Seriously, either he shrank like ten inches in 17 years or actors were a lot shorter in 1922. Performance-wise, he's decent by silent standards. That's a damn goofy wig, though.
(This is a photograph of Will Scarlet as he appeared in the 1922 film "Robin Hood".)
WILL SCARLET: Or so they say. He dresses a bit fancy, and the title card that accompanies his first appearance says "Will Scarlett" so I guess that's him. But he's got no personality of speak of and if it wasn't for the fact that he's got a silly beard and Alan A Dale's got a silly hat and looks like John Glover, you might lose track of which is which. You know, none of the men get an origin story besides Little John. They all just show up after Prancibald's first daring escape to waylay the one guard that's chasing him. See, Prancibald sneaks out in a hay wagon and then makes a break for it, and one guard sees him and chases him and then BAM WILL SCARLETT COMES OUTA FUCKING NOWHERE and smacks him around a little, pausing only for his name to appear onscreen.
(Friar Tuck is sure, sure, sure...)
TUCK: So after Will roughs up the guard a little, he tosses him over to Tuck, who - in the gayest moment of this prancing-filled film - spanks him. Just hefts him up over the shoulder and gives 'im a good spankin'. On the butt. Ah…ha. Anyway, Tuck's head is a bit weird, with the googly eyes and bushy beard and long curly hair, but to give due credit, the rest of his costume is really neat. And lucky you, you'll get plenty of chances to see it, because Willard Louis' style of acting is to gesture like a birthday party magician, and I'm pretty sure his hands never go below his waist throughout the movie. Story-wise, this is a pretty fine movie for Tuck. He gets some good fighting in, has some big dramatic scenes, and gets the most ridiculous line in the movie (see below).
(This baby is sad that Much isn't here. Prancibald laughs at his pain.)
MUCH: Utterly absent. Which is probably for the best.
(Marian and... A GHOST! No, just kidding. That would have been cool, though.)
MARIAN: DEAD, BABY. Seriously, she dies right before Prancibald comes back from the crusades. Crazy. But I'm getting ahead of myself. She is introduced at the jousting match, and referred to as "The queen of love and beauty". I don't think that's an actual title, but you never know. Anyway, Prancey is afeared of her, as has been mentioned, but she writes to tell him of how crappy England's gotten in his absence, so he comes back to see her. Then she takes a header off a cliff because the soldiers are trying to kill her. Oh… Okay, she's not really dead, but Prancibald thinks she is, and that gives him some neat motivation to forsake civilization and live in the woods. If only their relationship was a bit less based on his fear of vaginas, it would have been a nice moment. Later .. he knows she's alive, he gives her a knife and tells her to kill herself if the soldiers find her. Prancibald's justice is a harsh justice.
(I really wanted to get a good nose shot, but the 'taking photos of my TV method is imprecise, and the guy hardly gets any good close-ups. Don't judge me.)
SHERIFF: What a nose on this guy. Seriously. He's like freakin' Cyrano. The filmmakers decided that neither that honker nor his silly cowboy hat would be enough to make him stick in the audience's mind, so every time he shows up, the title cards go all: "THE LORD HIGH SHERIFF OF NOTTINGHAM". After a while, I decided that he was actually yelling this every time he went into a room. This was nice, as this charming bit of monomania gave him a personality the writers and director didn't think he needed. Oh, actually, there is one other thing. He doesn't seem to care what people pay their taxes with. His men accept a dog as payment in one scene, and they also go into a debtor's house and take his table. Then said debtor and hs wife start making out, because when you haven't got a table, what else can you do? Sheriff's the low man on the bad guy totem pole here, and a step up we find…
(I imagine him sounding like a cross between Joel Cairo and Crazy Harry.)
SIR GUY: More like Sir Fatty du Creepula. Oooooh snap. Seriously, this is the sleaziest Guy yet. He's all doughy and squinty, and he's wearing silent movie makeup which does not help him at all. He's the lackey-in-chief to the Prince, and he works hard for the money so hard for it honey. He tries to assassinate the king, he lusts for Marian, he even cheats at jousting by tying himself to the saddle. I only knew that because of the title cards, naturally. His death is so ludicrous, I'll just show you. Be sure to watch to the end for the aforementioned suicide recommendation.
Who composed that music? It was downright glib. I must say, what with the strangling and the smooching, Prancibald looks almost macho there, nearly enough to recover from throwing his hat in the beginning. Too bad he ruins it by tossing his hair in the last second.
(Prince John is sad he has no section of his own anymore. If only there was a crying baby to cheer him up.)
THE MAN: So sorry, P.J. but I've decided to make you share your section with your big brother and anyone else who represents the government in these movies. But I'll start with you, how's that? Um… Prince John is boring. Seriously. Of all the thinly they drawn villains in this movie, he's the thinnest. We know he's evil because he lurks about with his pet falcon and leans oddly on his throne. It's a weird throne, by the way. It's got a leopard skin on it, and it seems to have no set location, going wherever he goes. Maybe it's magic. The nicest thing I can say about him is that he's played by Sam de Grasse, one of the first Canadians in Hollywood.
(Wallace Beery and his hittin' stick.)
Good King Richard is played by Wallace Beery, a silent film star well known both for playing evil bastards, and totally being an evil bastard. Jackie Cooper called him "the most sadistic person I have ever known," and when working with eight-year-old Margaret O'Brien, pinched her so much that crew members had to constantly hang around to protect her. This is Ms. O'Brien's worst memory of being a child actor in 1940s Hollywood, which could not have been a picnic on a normal day. Oh, and this one time, Beery beat a man to death in a bar and fled to Europe while the studio covered it up.
(Above: Wallace Beery feasts on an extra.)
This all might seem unrelated to Robin Hood, but I mention it because I want you to know that this guy is completely loathsome, and it totally shines through even when he's playing a hero. There's not a single scene where I don't feel he's about to tear off his tights and rape the hell out of everyone. And he's… weird, anyway. He silent-film-overacts to a ridiculous extent, even for this movie. And in one scene he crushes a coconut with his bear hands for no reason. That was a typo, but I'm leaving it in because Wallace Beery looks more like a shaved bear than a human.
(It's either Alan A Dale or Lionel Luthor...)
OTHER MERRY MEN: Allan A Dale is in this one, though you wouldn't notice it if those handy title cards weren't around. He doesn't carry an instrument or anything. He does wear a silly hat and look like John Glover, but I already told you that. He doesn't even get to be in the original lineup shot, because he was sleeping at the camp while everyone else was out saving England. Loser. In an Errol Flynn-like display of antipathy toward his followers, Prancibald wakes him up by shooting his hat off. Other than him, it's just A Couple Hundred Interchangeable Nancies. I have nothing to say about the Nancies, save that if there's going to be a few hundred good guys hanging around, maybe they should actually do something other than a musical number? I'm not joking. They all bound onto the screen, skip about like Rod Flanders on sugar, and then a poem appears on the screen which appears to be the Merry Men Club Marching Song. Also, they are described as "lusty rebels", leading me to wonder when that word started to be hilarious. One of the Nancies blows a horn whenever they show up, which gives him more personality than most people in this movie.
(I'm too lazy to find a picture of the rich man. Please enjoy this man's beard instead.)
OTHER VILLAINS: The only notable one was "The Rich Man of Wakefield", who shows up on screen, hits a poor person, and then disappears forever, with (Of course) only his introductory title card to give us any clue who he was.
Oh thank god.
Knop: A small decorative knob. Scop: A bard or poet. Tuck: Really crappy with the threats.
(Spider-Prance, Spider-Prance. Does whatever a Spider-Prance does.)
COMING UP NEXT: There was a Robin Hood themed Episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Perhaps you would like to hear someone make humorous comments about it? I'll see what I can do.
ROBIN HOOD (1973)
(Men-agerie? What the hell?... Ohhhh... OH! Oh, that's clever.)Well, somebody saw The Jungle Book. And copied a lot of it wholesale. To be fair, this movie was made at a rough time for Disney. Walt had just died, the Nine Old Men were starting to act their nickname, and they had about no money. As such, this movie is jam-packed with recycled animation and cut corners. There's a reason Little John and Baloo are identical. My favorite was when a random cat character shows up in a musical scene just because they were reusing "Aristocats" footage, then disappears forever. The movie is charming, though, in its simple way. There's one aspect I love, and I'll discuss it more in the Little John section. STAY TUNED, DEAR READERS!
(In the land of Lincolne... Where the shadows lie...)PLOT: There is none. Okay, that's a little mean. But really, there isn't. The movie is structured more as a series of episodes. Some focus on Robin, some on the others. I kinda like that.
(I hope you like the look of that marching. You're going to see it every time these guys show up.)
GENERAL THOUGHTS: The recycled animation really hurts this one. The same shots will get used three or four times in a single scene. The best thing they did here was not bother with origin stories, so they could jump right into the action. This is a weird movie for accents. Robin Marian, and the upper-class types are English, but basically everyone else is played by some famous Western actor. Friar Tuck is perpetual Roy Rogers deputy Andy Devine, Roger Miller is our musical narrator, Pat Buttram of all people is the Sheriff, with Goober Pyle and Festus Hagen as his flunkies. Real quality character actors, and not even a little English. And I'm fine with that. A medieval English accent wouldn't sound much like a modern one, anyway, so I'd rather straight up Americans with personality out the wazoo than another crappy annoying half-accent that sounds bland as all git-out. You know who I'm talking about. Also, all the characters, heroes and villains alike, say 'Ooh-de-lally' a lot, which seems to be a catch-all exclamation. You know, like 'shpadoinkle'.
(He's gonna put someone's eye out. I wish.)ROBIN: Played by British stage actor Brian Bedford, sounding much more youthful than his actual 49 years. The movies aforementioned lack of origin bits means he's not atoning for past crimes or unjustly outlawed or anything other than helping poor people because it's what he does. He's a carefree jokester, and has a ball fighting injustice. He's a master of disguise, as Robin always was in the old ballads, doing a lot of reconnaissance as a blind beggar. He's also a much fancier archer than most, aided by the cartoon physics that allow arrows to ricochet like bullets. He's a fox, of course, clever and quick. Makes sense. Also, Disney had a lot of fox character sheets lying around from a previously abandoned project.
(Even for a cartoon, the physics of arrows in this movie make me crabby.)LITTLE JOHN: Identical to Disney's Baloo in appearance, mannerisms, and played-by-Phil-Harrisness. I love this Little John. For one thing, he's the only Merry Man. Yeah, the only one. He and Robin live out alone in the forest, and carry out their plans with help from the locals only when needed and on a strictly volunteer basis. This allows for the only movie version I've seen where Robin and Little John can have the kind of friendship and camaraderie they share in the old stories. Also, John is as smart and clever as Robin, but a good deal more sensible and careful, which is also the way it was in ye olde stories, and you never see that in modern movies. In fact, I'd lay even money this is the last time we see this kind of Little John. And Riker doesn't count. He's a bear, the perfect animal for a large growly forest-dweller. Phil Harris's broad Midwestern burl is the perfect voice to go with it. He was 70 when this movie was made, but you'd never guess.
(Sorry!)WILL SCARLET: Not around, as I mentioned. Go away.
(Seriously?)TUCK: Is around. "What?", you say? "Brian, you lying sack of shit, you aid there were no other Merry Men!" you say? Well hold your fucking horses. Tuck isn't in the band per se, but rather helps them out from inside the town. He is responsible for redistributing the money they steal, and hiding their presence from the Sheriff. This is a departure for Tucks so for, as he doesn't drink, swear, or fight. A Tuck that actually acts like a friggin priest? And it works? Who'da thunk it? Oh, and he's apparently a badger, for no reason I can see. Seriously? A badger? What is so priestly about a badger? He looks more like a mole, anyway.
(I'd be worried, too. Don't foxes eat rabbits?)MUCH: There is… Kind of a Much. He is a 7-year-old rabbit named Skippy. He hero-worships Robin who shows up at his birthday party and gives him an old hat and a bow an arrow. (Giving weapons to children? What are you, Errol Flynn?) He almost has sex with Maid Marian. (He's running around the castle courtyard pretending to be Robin Hood, Marian joins the game, he 'rescues' her, and she demands that Robin Hood 'Kiss the Girl'. It's really a sort of upsetting scene, for reasons I can't quite explain. I guess you have to see it. Also, skippy don't wear no pants. Neither do most of the men in this movie, but Skippy's long shirt covers his crotch, which makes it seem really indecent. This parenthetical statement is longer than the main entry. Huh.)
(Aww, that's preshy. By the way, an 'ingot' is a lump of metal cast into any old shape for easy storage so that it can be processed at a later time. Not, you know, anything you would want 10,000 of necessarily.)MARIAN: Marian here is also a fox. A harsh condemnation of interracial relationships? Nah. (Although the bad guys are also very racially segregated, but that's a budget thing. They could just make one Rhino soldier, one Alligator guard, and one Wolf archer, and replicate them as needed. Anyway…) Marian is sort of a non-presence in this one. Her relationship with Robin is handled well, explaining that they knew each other as kids, and each has harbored affection for the other after they grew apart. But other than that, her function is just exposition and attempted statutory rape, and she's completely absent in the last half hour, up until the very last scene.
(Congratulations, you mincing Mary.)PRINCE JOHN: Has his own category now! He's been in every film but one at this point, so I figure if he's ever not around again, I'll just talk about the sociopolitical dynamics of the movie, or write a haiku or something. Anyway, John is an odd one here. As the Big Bad, he must be a credible threat, but they portray him as a whiny mama's boy. So to compensate, they give him a truly deranged temper, which causes him to sentence 40 townsfolk to death or whatever right before he crashes and starts sucking his thumb and mumbling. And that's not a joke, he seriously sucks his thumb and cries out for 'mummy'. Also, his crown doesn't fit, and despite being a lion, he lacks a mane. But he appears to be a grown man. Damn. I almost feely sorry for the guy. He's got an Oedipus complex, an oral fixation, he's 28 and still hasn't hit puberty, and now there's an annoying fox stealing all his shit and getting him thrown in jail.
Speaking of that, since this is ol' PJ's first entry, I'd like to mention something that's been on my mind a lot. The incredibly shaky grasp of history most of these movies have. John is kicked out of the country in some, imprisoned in some, including this one… He did get to be king, you know. This movie has a whole musical number called "The Phony King of England", wherein they say he'll be remembered "Not because he passed some laws"… The Magna Carta, perhaps? I will complement the characters on their prescience in saying "Too late to be known as John the First/ He's sure to be known as John the Worst". If only they had said "Shakespeare's most boring play will be about him." Anyway, my point was that by treating him as a scheming mastermind the way these movies tend to, they either have to punish him at the end, or make the heroes look weak. And punishment means historical whatthefucks. I mean, obviously there's going to be anachronisms in any Robin Hood tale, but that's like making a movie where Lincoln kills Booth, or where Nixon doesn't get pardoned.
EDIT - Wait, he WAS John the First! Well, John the only.
(You know, I found all these pics on a site called "Animated Lust". Yeah, I wish I was joking.)SHERIFF: Ooh, I like this one. The Big Bad is the Prince, as I mentioned, and the Sheriff a mere henchman. But unlike the last movie, this Sheriff is actually capable. He gleefully locks up priests, steals from the blind while pretending to give, and just generally has a ball of a time being a thug for the rich and powerful. And it works. With a fun-loving Robin, an equally fun-loving Sheriff makes a great contrast. See '39 Sheriff? This is what you could be if you just applied yourself a little. They do take the western thing a bit far with him, though, what with his star-shaped badge, and references to his 'posse'.
(Sir Hiss. Not pictured: back hair.)SIR GUY: Ehm… I guess he's here? There's a snake called Sir Hiss that's aide-de-campe to Prince John. So he's called 'Sir', he's a second banana… Yeah, close enough. Okay, so first of all, he's hairy, which is just not right in a snake. And it's not just '70s feature animation with visible pencil lines, like I thought at first. Snake's got hair. You can't see it in that pic. But check out his page on Animated Lust. Man, I hope you've been reading the picture captions. You won't be surprised to learn that he's pretty much Kaa from the Jungle Book, animation-wise. He's got the hypnosis powers, too. You know why King Richard went on a crusade? Sir Hiss hypnotized him to do so. Yeah. And despite the capabilities this would give him, he never uses said power in the movie. It's just stupid. Other than that, he's a pretty fun character. He's the smartest of the villains, and frequently sees what's really going on in a given scene, but nobody pay attention to him and he gets hurt a lot. Standard smarter-than-the-boss henchman stuff. He's animated in a really cool way that plays some fun tricks with his body, he wears a cape despite having no shoulders, and he's played by Terry-Thomas, who's sort of an English version of Sterling Holloway, so we're back to the Kaa thing.
(They calls me... The Rooster With No Name... Okay, it's Alan.)OTHER MERRY MEN: Alan-a-Dale makes his first appearance here. He's a Rooster, because… they sing? I mean, 'Rock-a-Doodle' thought so, too. Actually, his name is technically "The Rooster". See, in the opening credits, they're credited like: "Phil Harris as Little John - A Bear" or "Andy Devine as Friar Tuck - A Badger" (That's how I knew he wasn't a mole, by the way.). But Alan's is just "Roger Miller as The Rooster". But he calls himself Alan, and it works for me. He's a sort of narrator for the story, throwing out ballads here and exposition there, and lending a hand as required. His song over the opening credits, called "Whistle Stop", is familiar to anyone who was on the internet in 1998 as the Hampster Dance song. So that's a little weird. There's also a dog called Otto with a broken leg, and Skippy's two siblings, a bossy older sister and an oppressively cute androgyny. There's a turtle with glasses, some churchmice, an elderly owl couple, Skippy's other twelve siblings and suspiciously single mother… Look, I know none of them are exactly helping fight evil, but this is basically the only movie that put any thought into the townsfolk of Nottingham, and I feel like I should mention them. Oh, and Lady Sassmouth is here too, of course. Can Marian just once have someone to exposit with who isn't sassy? King Richard makes his usual cameo at the end, and everyone laughs at his bad, bad jokes, because he's king, and he'll send them to Palestine to kill some folks if they don't.
(Ah, the angry and stupid bad guy duo, not to be captured so well until the advent of the Wet Bandits some 20 years later.)OTHER VILLAINS: Sheriff gets two main henchmen of his own, a couple of vultures called Trigger and Nutsy. One is crabby and one is crazy. Guess which is which. Robin disguises himself as Nutsy in one scene by wearing a cape and putting a sock on his nose. If this was done for any reason other than to establish everyone he fools as blind and stupid, then I don't know what. There's also one Wolf Archer, one Alligator Guard, and one Rhino Soldier, and the Prince's Unseen Cloning Scientist.
COMING UP NEXT: It's "Douglas Fairbanks in Robin Hood", starring the pranciest action star of 1922 and his huge ego.
THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (1938)
Stand in front of a mirror. Put your hands on your hips. Laugh. You have just watched this movie. Well, I'm exaggerating a little. This one does the Norman/Saxon thing, too, but in a very 1930s Hollywood way, where everything is simple and simple. The bad guys twirl their mustaches and go NORMAN POWER! BWA HA HA sort of thing. This is the one I'll show my kids first, in the hypothetical future where I breed.
TONE: Sassily '30s. Screenwriting hadn't progressed to the point where they had cohesion in movies yet, so thank god for title cards. Also freakin' colorful. True Trivia: There were only 11 Technicolor cameras in existence at the time, and this movie used all of them. Fake Trivia: Errol Flynn was only three feet tall, and the movie was a pioneering user of forced perspective and resizing of props, paving the way for 'Lord of the Rings'.
PLOT: A sassy lil' nobleman saves a poacher, then gets outlawed and naturally proceeds to strut around like he owns the place. All the standard stuff, archery contest, et al but it's the first sound version, so it's all new here. Lucky '30s. The one big change is in villain ranking. Guy of Gisbourne is the Big Bad, Prince John his lurking boss, and the Sheriff the doughy comic relief.
GENERAL THOUGHTS: A lot of the fun idiosyncrasies of 1930s epics show up here, like giant sets that would look fine in black and white, but come off as goofy in Technicolor, rear-projection in horse-riding sequences, and matte paintings galore. And a style of fighting that actually is known on tvtropes as Flynning.
(He actually wore more green before he was outlawed)
ROBIN: Kind of a dickhead. He barges into a dinner party and walks on the table and throws a deer corpse around. And that's BEFORE he's outlawed. Once he has henchmen, he lets them do all the work, and stands around making speeches to the people "he" is attacking. I guess the idea was to make him look carefree and sassy and inspiring absolute loyalty, but it doesn't work at all, and he looks snarky and annoying, inspiring idiots to hero-worship him. He's like the dumb jock in a high school movie.
(What ho, fine lads! Would'st thou shave my back?)
LITTLE JOHN: Introduced with the bizarre line "There's a lusty infant!" He's not too tall, but he's muscley, and for once, the bridge fight is done with more playfulness than enmity, thus making their partnership believable. He's played by Alan Hale, who played a young Little John in 1922 and an old Little John in 1951. Also his son was the Skipper on Gilligan's Island. Character-wise, he's not too defined, just a fightin' type who delivers a lot of the "Look! The castle! That's where we have to attack!" lines. So, you know, Legolas. Also, he is apparently a lusty infant.
(Rock over Sherwood. Rock on, Chicago.)
WILL SCARLET: Introduced as Robin's follower-for-no-good-reason, which was, you recall, done in the 1991 version, only more stupidly. Or at least, it looked more stupid because the rest of the movie was less stupid. His name also goes unmentioned for a while, but he wears a RIDICULOUSLY red outfit, so it was easy to figure out. He is played by Flynn's buddy Patric Knowles, the worst fake lute player ever. He is not a lusty infant.
(No funny captions here. Stop looking.)
TUCK: Introduced in one of my favorite scenes. Robin sees him sleeping under a tree, and, typical of this movie, steals his food, throws a live fish in his lap, calls him fat, spanks him on the ass, and makes him give piggyback rides. Robin is such a douche. So anyway, Tuck throws him in the water and kicks his ass. More people should do that to this jackass. Towards the end, King Richard calls him a lardass, and his response is basically "Fuck you, kingboy." He wears a helmet all the time, which strikes me as an odd friaring acessory, but what do I know. I said 'ass' a lot in this bit. Anyway, I like this Tuck. I declare him, too to be a lusty infant.
(Much, looking like he should be under a bridge, rather than atop a tree.)
MUCH: He's a sassy little sassmouth in this one. He's caught poaching at the beginning, only instead of begging for his life, he flips his shit at Sir Guy. He then identifies himself as "the miller's son" despite being about 50. Well, I guess Ed Begley Jr. will always be Jr. He actually gets away with a love interest in this one. More on her later. He also gets a one-on-one action scene, though he takes a beating. He is played by Herbert Mundin, who I would bet any amount of money smells like old cheese. He's a poopy infant.
(I love you, Olivia. Run away from this movie and come live with me in 2008.)
MARIAN: Seems to mostly roll her eyes, and say "Oh, you men!" Marian, along with Tuck, was added to the stories in the early 1500s to solve some problems people had with a bunch of men alone in the woods. Tuck to prove they weren't pagans, and Marian to prove they weren't… well, let's just say she has her work cut out for her in this version. Gay jokes aside, I honestly feel bad for Olivia deHaviland every time Errol Flynn touches her. I feel like telling her to go take a shower. Okay, one more gay thing: The movie's original tagline was "Only the rainbow can duplicate its brilliance!" She's a lady infant.
(Poised to beat Much. We should be so lucky.)
SIR GUY: Basil Rathbone as Sir Sinister von Evilsatan. His first bit in an action scene is when he throws a candle at Robin, which is frankly stupid looking. Then Robin runs outside and starts shooting at the doors, so the open the doors, see him, close the doors, and repeat about eight hundred times. But I digress. B-Rath turns in a fine performance, which is expected, as he could act circles around everyone else in this movie in his sleep. By the way, Rathbone was a champion-level fencer, and it's really kind of sad to see him lose to Errol "The Flynner" Flynn. He actually only won one onscreen duel in his career, as Tybalt. And we all know how that turns out for him. Lost to a putz like Leslie Howard. I'm not going to make an infant joke about him.
(I'll bet he grew up to look like The King of Town. Also: Why is the mace the standard villain weapon in this movie?)
SHERIFF: A fat, droopy-eyed, goofball coward. Basil Rathbone was not about to let anyone out-villain him. By the way, every beard in this movie is retarded. Seriously, it's like a shitty beard contest is to follow the archery contest, and the richer you are, the more effort you put into winning. Anyhow, being a comedy coward, he gets a lot of lines like "I would have attacked, but I was guarding the back wall, lest he try to steal it! That scoundrel! I'll get him next time! Drat him! And drat him again!" He's a colicky infant.
(Yes, your Majesty. A white robe with gold trim is a perfect disguse. No one will suspect a thing.)
OTHER MERRY MEN: Lady Sassmouth shows up here as Marian's retainer. She flirts with the freaky homunculus Much in one of the skeeviest scenes I've ever borne witness to. King Richard shows up around the middle posing as an average knight, and stays incognito for a while to gather info about the state of his kingdom. Ooh, looks like someone read Ivanhoe.
(Oh, Prince John? I thought you said Prince Valiant.)
OTHER VILAINS: Claude Rains plays the basic Prince John with the silliest haircut you'll ever see on a human being, and beard to match. He's going to win the contest. The Bishop of Hereford, or at least some kind of Bishop, shows up and exposits loudly about secret things. His role could have been played by one of those title cards, but he seems evilish, so I put him here. Also, there is An assassin whose name I swear is "Dickon" who looks just like The French Taunter from Monty Python. Just saying.
(Now go away, or I shall taunt you a second time.)
COMING UP NEXT: Robin Hood and Little John go walkin' through the forest, laughin' back 'n' forth at how damn much recycled animation is in their movie.
ROBIN HOOD: PRINCE OF THIEVES (1991)
YOU KNOW IT'S TRUE… EVERYTHING I DO… I DO IT FOR YOUUUUUU!
Man, I hated this one at first. I could only watch it for like ten minutes at a time. It picked up a little after the merry men had a training montage. Suffered a bit from trying to look too cool. I mean, a lack of adventurer's caps is one thing, but Robin should at least wear green. I mean come on! Anyway, the whole thing was muddy and uneven.
PLOT: Robert of Locksley was fighting with Richard The Best King Ever in the crusades, his dad died while he was away, and when he comes back with his new friend Blacky McMuslim, (or Blacky al Muslim, I suppose) he finds out that shit's gone nuts, so he outlaws.
GENERAL THOUGHTS: Kinda meh. This one's remembered fondly by my friends who saw it in their youth, but it's not really that good. Half the acting is fine, half is crap. They try some new things that probably seemed like really good ideas, but none of them panned out right. Oh, and when Robin gets back to England, he lands at Dover and somehow manages to walk to Hadrian's Wall and then to Nottingham all in one day. That's a bit over 500 miles. Mapquest puts it at about eight hours by car. Nice direction, Kevin Reynolds. I hope your next collaboration with Kevin Costner is a little more respectful of common sense. Oh wait…
(The hero of England. Or possibly Minnesota.)
ROBIN: so much has been made of Kevin Costner's crappy accent, it might seem silly to repeat here. But seriously… It's BAD. Just when you start to think he's not even trying, he drops an R in a random place, and you go "Oh… oh yeah." also he's a crap actor in the first place. Yeah, I said it. As for the character portrayal, which is what I'm supposed to be talking about here, he's kind of a douche. I think they were trying to make him look like a born leader, but he just comes off as bossy and spoiled. And frankly, he doesn't seem to care about the poor people as much as his own interests.
(Nick Brimble: Truly an unfortunate-looking man)
LITTLE JOHN: He LOSES the bridge fight? What the FUCK? Robin beats him and makes him cry like a little pussy! That fuckin' sucks, especially considering that he's one of the few characters in the movie that gets any real personality. He's a family man in this one, and his relationship with his wife is a really nice element. He's played by the impressively hairy Nick Brimble, who turns the Englishness up to 11 to make up for his friends.
(Christian Goddamn Slater)
WILL SCARLET: Haaa hah ahah ah ah ah a ha. It's Christian Slater! Okay, now that that's done with. With Azim (More on him later) taking on the Lancer position, and Blinken (Ditto) being the servant, Will gets a fancy new job here: The asshole. He's the guy who wants to turn in Robin for the reward money and all. He actually tries to kill Robin at one point, but Robin shoots him in the hand, and he runs off to pout and play acoustic lute and invent horn-rimmed glasses.
(Seriously the best picture I could find. Lots of pictures of Will and the Sherrif, though. It's like the internet if full of lonely fangirls who like to moon over pretty actors or something. GISBOURNE + ROBIN OTP!!!)
TUCK: Best Tuck yet by far. (Out of two, but still.) He's the only fully realized character in the movie, quite honestly. He's a hard-drinking nutter who honestly feels a need to perform spiritual guidance to the outlaws. He pushes the greedy bishop out the window in one of the film's greatest moment. And he's genuinely racist against Azim, finally accepting him after he saves Little John's newest baby. "Tonight the Lord has taught me a fine lesson. I may think I am godly, but I now know I am not worldly." He's played by American character actor Mike McShane, the hypnotherapist from "Office Space". It was an inspired choice, and he brings a surprising amount of warmth and humanity for an actor whose usual forte is Whose Line is it Anyway and the backwards episode of Seinfeld.
MUCH: Played by the kid from H.R. Pufnstuff, I shit you not. Of course, it's 21 years later, so I did have to look that up. I actually thought he might not be in this one, because his name is mentioned offhand in the same breath as David of Doncaster. (See below) But some ugly as shit guy shows up in one scene and is apparently him.
(The character so boring, even the actress fell asleep)
(My god... am I really THAT pretty?)
SHERIFF: Alan Rickman IS Snidely Whiplash AS The Sheriff of Nottingham! Waaaaay over the top, but in a fun way. The Sheriff has an odd little sidekick in this one, a witch of sorts. Also, he commands an army of Death Eaters. Apart from the witch and the cult, which is weird enough, he also take over Gisbourne's usual role of wanting to marry Marian, because he thinks that will make him king. Yeah, a nut who marries the kings cousin has a more legit claim than, say, THE KING'S BROTHER. Actually Prince John isn't in this one at all, so whatever. Oh, and he wants revenge for Robin scarring his pretty pretty face. Oh, and he cancels Christmas at one point. Oh, and he swims through money like Scrooge McDuck. Oh, and: "I'LL CUT OUT YOUR HEART WITH A SPOOOOOOOOON!" I could write a whole 'nother paper about Rickman's Sheriff. It's crazyballs. But it doesn't make much sense. The Sheriff should not be the most likeable and interesting character in a Robin Hood movie. Oh, well.
(The star of the movie and some girl I think might have been in it)
MARIAN: Okay, that was mean. But she's so damn boring. They try to do the Uma-style badass thing with her, but outside of her first scene, it amounts to nothing. And actually, it amounts to nothing in that scene, either, because all she does is charce in wearing a mask and lose a fight against Robin. Then she just gets kidnapped, and etcetera.
(Yes, please, do us all a favor.)
SIR GUY: Here's my impression of every line that Guy has in this movie: "Grarrr rrr aaaahhhrrrr drool slurp grr!" He's not a "Sir" in this one, just a flunky, which is still a step up from the oldest legends, where he was a hobo. He's the Sheriff's cousin, which does help him become captain of the guards, but does not help him not get killed by the Sheriff for his failure. He does come up with the name "Robin Hood" as a way to discredit Robin, so he's got that going for him. Which is nice.
(Morgan Freeman and a sword he borrowed from a Final Fantasy villain.)
OTHER MERRY MEN: Well, there's Blinken, who was a lot funnier in the Mel Brooks version. They call him Duncan here, but whatever. They still play his blindness for comedy, but it's weird, because he had his eyes gouged out by the sheriff's men, so all the humor comes off as tasteless. There's also a Moorish doctor called Azim, played by Morgan Freeman with tattoos over his acne scars or whatever those are. He really gives the best performance in the movie. The filmmakers have caught a little guff for having a black guy in the cast, as it looks like tokenism. But apart from the fact that he's vital to the plot and more interesting than most of the characters, they were actually planning on using Nasir, a Moorish asassin from a 1980s BBC series. Then they realized he wasn't a character from the legends, and decided not to get sued. And all the other Muslims are still grotesquely racist caricatures. So there. Little John's son Wulf plays the persecuted poacher in this one, then engages in acts of moppetry for the rest. Mrs. Little John kicks some ass, and has a great line about how shooting out eight kids has made her a better fighter than anyone. Lady Sassmouth plays the Drowsy Chaperone again. David of Doncaster is in the end credits, though I have no idea where he is in the movie. I only mention it because this is the only Robin Hood movie to feature him, ever.
(Oh, look. A pointless subplot.)
OTHER VILAINS: A Horde of Screaming Celtic Bastards do some henchmanning and burn down the forest in a crazy Bizarro Braveheart routine that, as an person of Irish descent, I find borders on the racist. The Bishop of Hereford makes his only appearance where that's what he's called. Apparently these filmmakers, when they decided to put an evil bishop in, actually checked to see if there already was one. Broom Hilda makes gooey predictions about how the sheriff will be king some day and turns out to be his mom, in a scene that didn't make it into the movie and either I got an extended edition DVD somehow or I had a fever dream in the middle of the movie. Either is possible.
COMING UP NEXT: Errol Flynn! He can't fight, act, or be likeable in any way, but he can be a rape-happy opium fiend! Who better to play Robin Hood?