Film Review – THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (1938)

THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (1938, USA, 106m, U) *****
Action, Adventure, Romance
dist. Warner Bros.; pr co. First National Pictures / Warner Bros.; d. Michael Curtiz, William Keighley; w. Norman Reilly Raine, Seton I. Miller; pr. Hal B. Wallis, Jack L. Warner (both uncredited); ph. Tony Gaudio, Sol Polito (Technicolor | 1.37:1); m. Erich Wolfgang Korngold; ed. Ralph Dawson; ad. Carl Jules Weyl.
cast: Errol Flynn (Robin Hood), Olivia de Havilland (Maid Marian), Basil Rathbone (Sir Guy of Gisbourne), Claude Rains (Prince John), Patric Knowles (Will Scarlett), Eugene Pallette (Friar Tuck), Alan Hale (Little John), Melville Cooper (High Sheriff of Nottingham), Ian Hunter (King Richard the Lion-Heart), Una O’Connor (Bess), Herbert Mundin (Much), Montagu Love (Bishop of the Black Canons), Leonard Willey (Sir Essex), Robert Noble (Sir Ralf), Kenneth Hunter (Sir Mortimer), Robert Warwick (Sir Geoffrey), Colin Kenny (Sir Baldwin), Lester Matthews (Sir Ivor), Harry Cording (Dickon Malbete), Ivan F. Simpson (Proprietor of Kent Road Tavern).
Not only the definitive Robin Hood movie, but one of the all-time great adventure films and highly influential on George Lucas and his STAR WARS saga. When King Richard the Lionheart is captured, his scheming brother Prince John (Rains). aided by Sir Guy of Gisbourne (Rathbone), plots to reach the throne, to the outrage of Sir Robin of Locksley (Flynn), the bandit king of Sherwood Forest. Rounding up his band of men he eventually wins the support of the lovely Maid Marian (de Havilland). Filmed in three-strip Technicolor, this is a sumptuous production full of verve and pomp. Flynn is perfect as the energetic and charismatic Robin. He has the ideal cast in support, from the calculating Raines to the poise of the sadistic Rathbone and the sensitive beauty of de Havilland. The set design and matte work are first-rate for the period, whilst Dawson’s slick editing and Korngold’s boisterous score add significantly to the production. Milo Anderson’s costumes are designed to maximise the use of the Technicolor process. The climactic swordfight between Flynn and Rathbone is inventive and often hailed as one of the best filmed. Curtiz replaced Keighley as director of the film to add vigour to the action scenes. The film won 3 Oscars: Best Soundtrack, Editing and Art Direction (Carl Jules Weyl). The film was entered into the National Film Registry for its culturally, historically, or aesthetically significance in 1995.
AA: Best Art Direction (Carl Jules Weyl), Best Film Editing (Ralph Dawson), Best Music, Original Score (Erich Wolfgang Korngold)
AAN: Best Picture

Film Review – THE WOLF MAN (1941)

The Wolfman (1941) movie poster – Dangerous UniverseTHE WOLF MAN (USA, 1941) ***½
      Distributor: Universal Pictures; Production Company: Universal Pictures; Release Date: 9 December 1941 (USA), 13 March 1942 (UK); Filming Dates: 8 September 1941 – 25 November 1941; Running Time: 70m; Colour: B&W; Sound Mix: Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording); Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1; BBFC Cert: PG.
      Director: George Waggner; Writer: Curt Siodmak; Executive Producer: Jack J. Gross; Producer: George Waggner; Director of Photography: Joseph A. Valentine; Music Composer: Charles Previn, Hans J. Salter, Frank Skinner (all uncredited); Music Director: Charles Previn; Film Editor: Ted J. Kent; Art Director: Jack Otterson; Set Decorator: Russell A. Gausman; Costumes: Vera West; Make-up: Jack P. Pierce; Sound: Bernard B. Brown; Special Effects: John P. Fulton (uncredited).
      Cast: Lon Chaney Jr. (Larry Talbot – The Wolf Man), Claude Rains (Sir John Talbot), Warren William (Dr. Lloyd), Ralph Bellamy (Colonel Paul Montford), Patric Knowles (Frank Andrews), Bela Lugosi (Bela), Maria Ouspenskaya (Maleva), Evelyn Ankers (Gwen Conliffe), J.M. Kerrigan (Charles Conliffe), Fay Helm (Jenny Williams), Forrester Harvey (Twiddle), Jessie Arnold (Gypsy Woman (uncredited)), Leyland Hodgson (Kendall – Butler (uncredited)), Connie Leon (Mrs. Wykes (uncredited)), Doris Lloyd (Mrs. Williams (uncredited)), Ottola Nesmith (Mrs. Bally (uncredited)).
Synopsis: A practical man returns to his homeland, is attacked by a creature of folklore, and infected with a horrific disease his disciplined mind tells him cannot possibly exist.
      Comment: Universal’s second Werewolf film after WEREWOLF OF LONDON (1935). It is a fun outing with a strong sense of atmosphere, created by Valentine’s moody photography and Pierce’s impressive make-up. Chaney is Lawrence Talbot, who returns to father Rains’ estate and falls for antique shop-girl Ankers. After visiting a gypsy camp, where he meets the mysterious Lugosi he is bitten by a werewolf and his nightmares begin. Chaney is too stiff to carry off the leading man role but is better when in full make-up and snarling at his intended victims. Rains delivers the best performance, capturing subtly his character’s dilemma of not wanting to believe his son is the murderous monster, but deep down knowing he must do what is right. Waggner directs with pace and the movie proved to be a success. Chaney would appear as the Wolf Man four more times, but only as part of multi-monster offerings. Followed by FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN (1943) and remade as THE WOLFMAN (2010).