The nominal plot has stout-hearted Colonel Loring Leigh (C. Aubrey Smith -- who else?) kicked out of the Lancers for signing an order allowing a shipment guns to find their way into the hands of a band of Indian rebels, who end up massacring 90 men at one of those Indian passes so famous in '30s movie adventure yarns. Colonel Leigh is drummed out of the army but knows he's been set up and his signature forged. Returning to England he summons his four sons -- dim bulb Oxford student Rodney (William Henry), pompous barrister Wyatt (George Sanders), shallow ladies man/aviator Chris (David Niven), and stuffy British attache Geoffrey (Richard Greene) -- in order to show them the evidence proving he was framed by an international gun cartel. He doesn't get that far. While the boys are sipping bitters in the ante room, Colonel Leigh is shot dead in his study and the evidence removed. The press claims Leigh committed suicide from his disgrace, but the boys know better and set about to find his killer and clear his name.
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The sea adventure is fantastic (two life-size ships were constructed specifically for the film) but frankly I could have used far less parlor rooming in the picture -- especially because Robson is so difficult to believe as Elizabeth, despite the severe hairdo. Flynn -- in his 10th collaboration with director Michael Curtiz -- acquits himself just fine, though perhaps he should have taken his sword to the overblown script as well as the Spaniards.
Continue reading: The Sea Hawk Review
In 1938 Robin Hood was a huge success. It added to the Errol Flynn-Olivia de Havilland aura as a leading romantic team (they made six more films together). It also received special attention by using the new and expensive three-strip Technicolor in its cinematography. If you had a chance to see the restored 35mm print that made the rounds at various big-city theaters last August, good for you -- you've experienced what "glorious Technicolor" really is and you're one up on the rest of us. But the new release of The Adventures of Robin Hood on a two-disc DVD special edition might just even the score. It's hard to beat seeing any classic on the big screen, but the sparkling sharpness of this DVD image and the high quality and quantity of the extras almost make up for the lack of big-screen opportunities.
Continue reading: The Adventures Of Robin Hood Review