Richard the Lionheart, the King of England, is taken captive by Leopold of Austria while returning from the crusades, his brother John (Claude Rains) takes power and proceeds to oppress the Saxon commoners. Prince John raises their taxes, supposedly to raise Richard's ransom, but in reality to secure his own position on the throne.
One man stands in his way, the Saxon Robin, Earl of Locksley (Errol Flynn). He acquires a loyal follower when he saves Much (Herbert Mundin) from being arrested by Sir Guy of Gisborne (Basil Rathbone) for poaching one of the king's deer. Robin goes alone to see Prince John at Gisbourne's castle and announces to John's assembled supporters and a contemptuous Maid Marian (Olivia De Havilland) that he will do all in his power to oppose John and restore Richard to his rightful place. He then escapes, in spite of the efforts of John's men.
His lands and title now forfeit, Robin takes refuge in Sherwood Forest with his friend Will Scarlet (Partric Knowles). There they meet Little John (Alan Hale, Sr.), whom Robin recruits after a bruising quaterstaff bout. Other men join their growing band. Later, Robin provokes Friar Tuck (Eugene Pallett) into a swordfight, but then persuades the friar into joining him to provide spiritual guidance to the outlaws. Soon, Prince John and his Norman cronies find themselves harassed beyond all bearing with many of their troops receiving instant deadly retribution for their abuses courtesy of the Merry Men's arrows.
One day, Robin and his men capture a large party of Normans transporting taxes through Sherwood. Among Robin's "guests" are Gisbourne, the cowardly Sheriff of Nottingham (Melville Coooper), and Maid Marian. Robin and his men "liberate" the tax money, swearing to a man to contribute it towards King Richard's ransom. At first, Marian is disdainful of Robin and his "band of cut-throats", but becomes convinced of his good intentions. Eventually Robin lets the humiliated Gisbourne and sheriff go, telling them that they have Marian to thank for their lives.
The Sheriff then comes up with a cunning scheme to capture Robin. He suggests to Prince John that he announce an archery tournament, with the grand prize a golden arrow to be presented by Maid Marian, knowing that Robin will be unable to resist the challenge. All goes as planned; Robin identifies himself by winning the competition and is taken prisoner. Gisbourne sentences him to be hanged. However, Marian warns Robin's men, and they manage to rescue him on his way to the gallows. Later, in the dark of night, Robin sneaks into the castle to thank her. Marian and Robin declare their love for each other.
Meanwhile, King Richard (Ian Hunter) returns to England disguised as a monk, but is recognized at an inn by the Bishop of the Black Canons (Montagu Love) after he overhears one of Richard's men call him "sire". The traitorous bishop hurries to inform Prince John. Upon receiving the news, John and Gisbourne plot to dispose of Richard quietly before he can raise an army. Dickon Malbete (Harry Cording), a disgraced former knight, is sent to assassinate him in return for the restoration of his rank and Robin's estate. Marian overhears them and writes a note warning Robin, but Gisbourne finds it and has her arrested and condemned to death for treason. Marian's nurse Bess (Una O'Connor) informs her boyfriend Much, who intercepts and kills Dickon after a desperate struggle.
Richard and his escort travel to Sherwood Forest to find Robin. When Richard is certain of Robin's loyalty, he reveals his identity. Then they learn that John intends to have himself crowned king by the Bishop of the Black Canons in Nottingham the next day.
Knowing that the castle is too strong to take by force, Robin decides to use guile, visiting the bishop and "persuading" him to include Robin and his men, in disguise, in his entourage. Through this ruse, they gain entry to the castle and interrupt John's coronation. A melee breaks out, during which Robin and Gisbourne engage in a prolonged swordfight. Gisbourne is finally slain, and Robin rescues Marian from her cell.
Richard is restored to the throne; he exiles his brother, pardons the outlaws, returns Robin's earldom and orders him to marry Lady Marian. Robin exclaims, "May I obey all your commands with equal pleasure, sire!"
Due to the movie's popularity, Errol Flynn's name and image became inextricably linked with that of Robin Hood in the public eye, even more so than Douglas Fairbanks, who had played the role previously in 1922.
This was the third film to pair Errol Flynn and Olivia De Havilland (after Captain Blood and The Charge of the Light Brigade). They would ultimately star together in eight films.
Scenes and costumes worn by the characters have been imitated and spoofed endlessly. For instance, in the Bugs Bunny animated short film, Rabbit Hood, Bugs is continually told by a dim-witted Little John that "Robin Hood will soon be here." When Bugs finally meets Robin at the end of the film, he is stunned to find that it is Errol Flynn, in a spliced-in clip from this film. Other parodies were Daffy Duck and Porky Pig in Robin Hood Daffy and Goofy and Black Pete in Goof Troop's Goofin' Hood & His Melancholy Men.
Trigger (then named Golden Cloud) was the horse ridden by Olivia de Havilland in the film. Roy Rogers admired the horse so much that he bought Trigger to use in his own films. This eventually made Trigger one of the most famous animals in show business.
|The Adventures of Robin Hood|
|Directed by||Michael Curtiz|
|Produced by||Hal B. Wallis|
|Written by||Norman Reilly Raine|
Seton I. Miller
Olivia De Havilland
|Music by||Eric Wolfgang Korngold|
|Editing by||Ralph Dawson|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Release date(s)||May 14, 1938|
|Running time||102 minutes|