Robin Hood, Douglas Fairbanks' biggest (though not necessarily best) production of the silent era, represents the first time that many familiar of the elements of the Robin Hood legend were presented on screen. To bring the project to full fruition, Fairbanks and his wife Mary Pickford purchased the old Jesse Hampton studio in Santa Monica, and on ...
Robin Hood, Douglas Fairbanks' biggest (though not necessarily best) production of the silent era, represents the first time that many familiar of the elements of the Robin Hood legend were presented on screen. To bring the project to full fruition, Fairbanks and his wife Mary Pickford purchased the old Jesse Hampton studio in Santa Monica, and on that site constructed a near-lifesized replica of 12th century Nottingham. The humongous castle set was so awesome that Fairbanks became worried that his own performance might be dwarfed. It wasn't: take our word for it. When first we meet Robin Hood, he is still the Earl of Huntington, preparing to joust with his bitter enemy Sir Guy of Gisbourne (Paul Dickey). Despite Sir Guy's propensity for cheating, the Earl is victorious. Shortly thereafter, Huntington rides off to the crusades with Richard the Lionhearted (Wallace Beery). Upon learning that Prince John (Sam De Grasse), goaded on by Sir Guy, has usurped his brother Richard's throne, Huntington returns to Nottingham in a new guise: dashing righter-of-wrongs Robin Hood. While robbing from the rich, giving to the poor, and bedevilling the villains, Robin romances the fetching Maid Marian (Enid Bennett). The film's singular highlight is Fairbanks' slide down a two-story tapestry, a bit of bravado accomplished by hiding a playground slide behind the huge cloth. As in all of Fairbanks' films, Charlie Stevens, a grandson of Geronimo and Doug's "mascot", appears in several minor roles. Also appearing is Alan Hale Sr. as Little John, a role he'd repeat in the 1938 Errol Flynn Robin Hood, not to mention the 1950 swashbuckler Rogues of Sherwood Forest. Long thought lost, Douglas Fairbanks in Robin Hood (as the film was so copyrighted) was rediscovered in the early 1960s. Most current prints fail to do justice to Arthur Edeson's glistening photography; also, some versions are stretch-framed to slow down the action to "normal" speed, a process that retards the marvelously fast pace instilled by star Fairbanks and director Allan Dwan. We recommend that you seek out a good-quality, tinted print of Robin Hood, processed at the slightly faster-than-life speed at which it was originally filmed. Hal Erickson, Rovi
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