The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)

adventures of robin hood poster 1938 movie errol flynn
10 Overall Score
Story: 10/10
Acting: 10/10
Visuals: 10/10

Classic action-adventure film

Pacing might be too slow for some viewers

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Adventures of Robin Hood

Studio:  Warner Bros. Pictures

Genre(s):  Action/Adventure/Romance

Release Date(s):  May 14, 1938

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated


We are so damn Merry!

King Richard the Lionheart (Ian Hunter) has left his kingdom to lead the Crusades in the Holy Land.  When he is captured, his brother Prince John (Claude Rains) seizes control and abuses his power to repress the people, but the people have a hero.  Robin Hood and his men are hiding in Sherwood Forest and battling the injustice of Prince John and his agent Sir Guy of Gisbourne (Basil Rathbone).  When Robin Hood falls in love with the beautiful Maid Marian (Olivia de Havilland), he finds himself not only fighting for his country and king but for the woman he loves.  As Prince John plots against his brother, Robin Hood must find a means to free his country and protect the kingdom from within.

Directed by Michael Curtiz and William Keighley, The Adventures of Robin Hood adapts the classic tale of Robin Hood.  The movie was shot in Technicolor and became a massive hit.  The movie won Academy Awards for Best Art Direction, Best Film Editing, Best Original Score, and received a nomination for Best Picture.  The action-adventure is often listed as a classic and frequently makes cinematic “best of” lists.


I’m going to get that goofy Robin Hood if its the last thing I do!

Robin Hood is one of the world’s first superheroes.  An archer with impeccable aim and a sense of justice has made this character an endearing classic.  When you image Robin Hood, you generally imagine this version of the character and the movie had such staying power that its style and look influenced movies for decades to come.

The Adventures of Robin Hood is one of those films that you need to see to understand the development of action and adventure films.  The movie fell into the “swashbuckling” style of film like pirate and other adventure films that were popular at the time.  You have a dashing character that is an outlaw, but he is still likable due to his nature…and the movie manages to make an adventure faithful to the tale but still fun today.


Oh yeah…if the Sherwood Forest is a rockin’ don’t come a knockin’

The movie also has a wider appeal in that it is a romance.  The tale of Robin and Maid Marion is a tale of love that has been brought to the screen multiple times. Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland were often paired as an onscreen couple (this was their third of eight films together).  This does give the romance a bit more weight…it also is a good standard for other romances that came after like Han Solo and Princess Leia which had a similar set-up.

Not only do Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland match up, but the rest of the cast is strong.  Claude Rains plays a good slimy character as the treacherous prince, and Sherlock Holmes vet Basil Rathbone is a good second hand man that actually fight with Flynn.  The Merry Men are made up of some solid character actors like Alan Hale Sr., Patric Knowles, and Eugene Pallette.  It is also notable that the horse that Olivia de Havilland can be seen riding in the film became “Trigger” of Roy Rogers fame.


You just had to pull a sword, didn’t you?

The visuals for the film also are perfect.  Despite being over seventy years old, the film still really pops.  A nice clean Blu-Ray transfer shows a clear, crisp film that still shows incredible detail (including a lot of mistakes like a car in the background).  The film was shot in California but even the grass was “greened” to give it a more English look.

I highly recommend The Adventures of Robin Hood.  It might be an old film, and you might feel it is dated, but the movie is still worth seeking out.  With the bright Technicolor look, the movie doesn’t look as old as some of its contemporaries which were still in black-and-white.  A sequel called Robin of Locksley was planned but never shot.

Related Links:

Robin Hood (1973)

Robin Hood:  Prince of Thieves (1991)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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