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The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) vs. The Mark of Zorro (1940).


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Apropos of tonight's airing of the latter.  I've often considered, along with a lot of others, Robin Hood to be the best adventure movie ever.  But catching Zorro tonight made me think that it is distinct competition for the title.  Now I don't count that Robin was made in Technicolor (to my mind the best ever shot) and Zorro is b/w.  When you consider it, both movies have a lot in common.  There's a brash, insouciant hero,  an oppressed populace, daring escapades, a reluctant maiden wooed and won, a religious figure/ally, stolen state monies destined to aid the oppressed.  Oh yes, there's also Basil Rathbone as The Villain.  Maybe he makes these movies great.

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8 hours ago, slaytonf said:

Apropos of tonight's airing of the latter.  I've often considered, along with a lot of others, Robin Hood to be the best adventure movie ever.  But catching Zorro tonight made me think that it is distinct competition for the title.  Now I don't count that Robin was made in Technicolor (to my mind the best ever shot) and Zorro is b/w.  When you consider it, both movies have a lot in common.  There's a brash, insouciant hero,  an oppressed populace, daring escapades, a reluctant maiden wooed and won, a religious figure/ally, stolen state monies destined to aid the oppressed.  Oh yes, there's also Basil Rathbone as The Villain.  Maybe he makes these movies great.

ZORRO wasn't bad, but THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD will always be top with me.

But I agree that Basil Rathbone made an excellent villainous foe in both movies.

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Two of my favourite films, having seen both of them for the first time on TV when I was a kid. I watched both of them again earlier this year.

Robin Hood has the bigger reputation but The Mark of Zorro is a splendid film of its kind, with an often witty screenplay, great black and white photography, a rousing musical score by Alfred Newman and, of course, that cast, all perfect in their roles. The fast paced choreography of the fencing match between Power and Rathbone remains, along with the duels in Robin Hood and Scaramouche (1952), one of the three greatest that the movies have given us, in my opinion.

The only real flaw of Zorro is that the duel does not come at the end of the film. There is 15 minutes to go after it with all that business with the peons rising up against the soldiers and that mass fight with swords and clubs between them seeming quite anti-climactic. They should have had the uprising take place but then have Power and Rathbone encounter one another either during it or after it for their classic fencing encounter.

So, Basil, any comment on the fact that you always lost your screen duels to actors you could out fence in real life?

Tyrone Power in The Mark of Zorro [1940] and Danny... - Tumbex

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8 minutes ago, TomJH said:

Two of my favourite films, having seen both of them for the first time on TV when I was a kid. I watched both of them again earlier this year.

Robin Hood has the bigger reputation but The Mark of Zorro is a splendid film of its kind, with an often witty screenplay, great black and white photography, a rousing musical score by Alfred Newman and, of course, that cast, all perfect in their roles. The fast paced choreography of the fencing match between Power and Rathbone remains, along with the duels in Robin Hood and Scaramouche (1952), one of the three greatest that the movies have given us, in my opinion.

The only real flaw of Zorro is that the duel does not come at the end of the film. There is 15 minutes to go after it with all that business with the peons rising up against the soldiers and that mass fight with swords and clubs between the them seeming quite anti-climactic, They should have had the uprising take place but then have Power and Rathbone encounter one another either during it or after it for their classic fencing encounter.

So, Basil, any comment on the fact that you always lost your screen duels to actors you could out fence in real life?

TTyrone Power in The Mark of Zorro [1940] and Danny... - Tumbex

I was watching The Mark of Zorro last night and thought the same thing -- the movie would have maintained more excitement if the duel was closer to the actual ending.  The uprising is just one big crowd scene to me.   The Adventures of Robin Hood also seems to have a much tighter script and more and better character actors.  Claude Raines is deliciously feline and effete as Prince John, whereas Edward Bromberg is just a buffoon.  The Mark of Zorro is definitely sexier and more adult in some respects, all that playing around with definitions of masculinity, which are quite fun and well-played by Power and Rathbone (who presents as the typical alpha male).    I think TARH takes the social justice aspect of the outlaw story more seriously, all those explicit scenes of peasants being abused and Robin's courting of Marian by showing her the oppression of the people.

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17 minutes ago, rosebette said:

I think TARH takes the social justice aspect of the outlaw story more seriously, all those explicit scenes of peasants being abused and Robin's courting of Marian by showing her the oppression of the people.

Warners was always the Hollywood studio, certainly during the '30s, most concerned with social inequities, going back to Public Enemy and I Am A Fugitive. Captain Blood, aside from the adventurous aspect of its story line, is also about injustice and oppression. Robin Hood, Technicolor fantasy escapism that it may have been, was also continuing that studio tradition.

Better Late Than Never: ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (1938) ⋆ Film Goblin

"it's injustice I hate, not the Normans."

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12 hours ago, NipkowDisc said:

and Basil Rathbone was an excellent swordsman probably much, much better than either Errol Flynn or Tyrone Power.

I remember reading somewhere many moons ago that Rathbone was a British army fencing champ and would often instruct Flynn on techniques to help him look convincing in their film duels together.  He also did the same for Power.

But there's no real "vs" concerning the two movies.  Two completely different stories and characters.  Sure, there's the injustice and oppression angles,   But Zorro has a "secret identity" (Don Diego, a member of the same aristocracy his alter ego menaces and is a character created in a 1919 pulp fiction book, while Robin Hood is mostly upfront as to his identity and leads a band of "merry men" while Zorro worked alone.  And whether or not there was a "real" robin Hood is still being debated.   As for one movie being better than the other, well.......

That's purely subjective and depending on one's personal opinion.

Sepiatone

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2 hours ago, rosebette said:

  I think TARH takes the social justice aspect of the outlaw story more seriously, all those explicit scenes of peasants being abused and Robin's courting of Marian by showing her the oppression of the people.

I always wonder about that scene in which Robin takes Marian into a dark section of the woods to show her the poor people for whom he cares. "Bless you, Robin. We'll never forget you," one of them says, like a formerly whipped dog grateful he has now found a kind master.

So if Robin is so concerned about the poor how come they're not invited to the feast in the forest which is happening a short distance away? You know, with all that mutton and ale and dancing and Friar Tuck laughing. Why are the poor stuck in a dark and quiet spot of the woods? Why aren't they invited to join in with all the merriment? They look like they could use a laugh.

The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) | The Film Spectrum

"Hardly an inspiring sight for such pretty eyes as yours, I'm sure."

Maybe that's the answer. Robin is a decent sort who hates injustice and is ready to risk his life to assist the poor and disadvantaged. But he's also a former nobleman and land owner, Sir Robin of Locksley, and socially mixing with the poor doesn't appear to be on his list of things to do.

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25 minutes ago, TomJH said:

So if Robin is so concerned about the poor how come they're not invited to the feast in the forest which is happening a short distance away? You know, with all that mutton and ale and dancing and Friar Tuck laughing. Why are the poor stuck in a dark and quiet spot of the woods? Why aren't they invited to join in with all the merriment? They look like they could use a laugh.

Robin didn't wish to expose these poor everyday citizens to Guy and the Sherriff and  his men since they could later round them up and torture\kill them. 

I.e. these folks were not part of Robin's group of fighting men.

    

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I don’t think anyone thought either Power or Flynn were on the same level as Rathbone. However Basil was quoted as saying that power was far superior to Flynn. Interesting as Flynn as known to be an excellent athlete

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6 hours ago, TomJH said:

So if Robin is so concerned about the poor how come they're not invited to the feast in the forest which is happening a short distance away? You know, with all that mutton and ale and dancing and Friar Tuck laughing. Why are the poor stuck in a dark and quiet spot of the woods? Why aren't they invited to join in with all the merriment? 

 

 

They probably didn't have their vaccination cards.

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6 hours ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

Robin didn't wish to expose these poor everyday citizens to Guy and the Sherriff and  his men since they could later round them up and torture\kill them. 

I.e. these folks were not part of Robin's group of fighting men.

    

I remember from Disney's animated ROBIN HOOD from the 70's, Prince John had everybody in the forest arrested and jailed merely for laughing at him from the mocking song of him sung by Little John.

One can imagine how Claude Rains' Prince John would have responded to such a humiliation. 

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57 minutes ago, Bethluvsfilms said:

I remember from Disney's animated ROBIN HOOD from the 70's, Prince John had everybody in the forest arrested and jailed merely for laughing at him from the mocking song of him sung by Little John.

One can imagine how Claude Rains' Prince John would have responded to such a humiliation. 

Especially since Basil's Sir Guy talked about having the traitors hanging from every tree...

On the other hand, Peter Ustinov as a king in another film (Quo Vadis) kept complaining about people not loving his singing...

 

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12 hours ago, Sepiatone said:

I remember reading somewhere many moons ago that Rathbone was a British army fencing champ and would often instruct Flynn on techniques to help him look convincing in their film duels together.  He also did the same for Power.

But there's no real "vs" concerning the two movies.  Two completely different stories and characters.  Sure, there's the injustice and oppression angles,   But Zorro has a "secret identity" (Don Diego, a member of the same aristocracy his alter ego menaces and is a character created in a 1919 pulp fiction book, while Robin Hood is mostly upfront as to his identity and leads a band of "merry men" while Zorro worked alone.  And whether or not there was a "real" robin Hood is still being debated.   As for one movie being better than the other, well.......

That's purely subjective and depending on one's personal opinion.

Sepiatone

Yes, in this regard, the Zorro story is very similar to The Scarlet Pimpernel, and which predated the original Zorro publications by some 14 years. 

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4 hours ago, Bethluvsfilms said:

I remember from Disney's animated ROBIN HOOD from the 70's, Prince John had everybody in the forest arrested and jailed merely for laughing at him from the mocking song of him sung by Little John.

One can imagine how Claude Rains' Prince John would have responded to such a humiliation. 

Yes, but Beth, do you remember THIS Disney live action Zorro TV series from the late-'50?

Well I do, and in fact back then, I even had this nifty little official Disney Zorro package here...

3aeece6a9b61e3e6bbd95ad7e1b0893d.jpg

(...and yes, I made a very dashing little six year old whenever I donned this little number TOO!)  ;)

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7 hours ago, Dargo said:

Yes, but Beth, do you remember THIS Disney live action Zorro TV series from the late-'50?

Well I do, and in fact back then, I even had this nifty little official Disney Zorro package here...

3aeece6a9b61e3e6bbd95ad7e1b0893d.jpg

(...and yes, I made a very dashing little six year old whenever I donned this little number TOO!)  ;)

Never saw that version of Zorro. 

But it would have been cool to have seen you as Zorro!;)

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8 hours ago, Dargo said:

Yes, but Beth, do you remember THIS Disney live action Zorro TV series from the late-'50?

Well I do, and in fact back then, I even had this nifty little official Disney Zorro package here...

3aeece6a9b61e3e6bbd95ad7e1b0893d.jpg

(...and yes, I made a very dashing little six year old whenever I donned this little number TOO!)  ;)

Gotta love the mustache. 

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On creating any of my lists from years ago, I have always had The Adventures of Robin Hood listed as my number one film. The film has everything going for it. Story, acting, photography and that rousing score. The characterizations are rich and there is the love story. Would have been very interesting had Warner's first choice to portray Robin Hood had gone on as planned. Can anyone really imaging James Cagney as Robin Hood? I have to wonder what caused Cagney to have a contract dispute and then walked out of his contract at Warner's thus postponing the production of this film by three years.

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15 minutes ago, fxreyman said:

On creating any of my lists from years ago, I have always had The Adventures of Robin Hood listed as my number one film. The film has everything going for it. Story, acting, photography and that rousing score. The characterizations are rich and there is the love story. Would have been very interesting had Warner's first choice to portray Robin Hood had gone on as planned. Can anyone really imaging James Cagney as Robin Hood? I have to wonder what caused Cagney to have a contract dispute and then walked out of his contract at Warner's thus postponing the production of this film by three years.

As much as I love James Cagney, I don't think anyone could have outdone Errol Flynn.  

And Flynn's chemistry with Olivia de Havilland was to die for. Not that Cagney didn't have chemistry with Olivia in the 2 films they made together (particularly THE STRAWBERRY BLONDE) but she and Flynn were a match made in cinema heaven, without a doubt.

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1 hour ago, Bethluvsfilms said:

Not that Cagney didn't have chemistry with Olivia in the 2 films they made together (particularly THE STRAWBERRY BLONDE) but she and Flynn were a match made in cinema heaven, without a doubt.

Yep.  And according to David Niven, Flynn and Olivia had that chemistry often OFF screen as well.  ;) 

 

I never saw Flynn's ROBIN HOOD until I was an adult.   And like DARG,  I too grooved on Disney's ZORRO TV show.  And MY introduction to ROBIN HOOD was around the same time. 

Never had that Zorro mask though.  :( 

Sepiatone

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39 minutes ago, Sepiatone said:

And according to David Niven, Flynn and Olivia had that chemistry often OFF screen as well. 

Notwithstanding Miss de Havilland's statements to the contrary. 

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4 hours ago, fxreyman said:

On creating any of my lists from years ago, I have always had The Adventures of Robin Hood listed as my number one film. The film has everything going for it. Story, acting, photography and that rousing score. The characterizations are rich and there is the love story. Would have been very interesting had Warner's first choice to portray Robin Hood had gone on as planned. Can anyone really imaging James Cagney as Robin Hood? I have to wonder what caused Cagney to have a contract dispute and then walked out of his contract at Warner's thus postponing the production of this film by three years.

Robin Hood is close to being a perfect film (even with those oops errors in it, such as the white car briefly seen driving by in the background in Sherwood Forest). The casting is a large part of the perfection. The only actor in the film I might have liked to see replaced is Patric Knowles as Will Scarlet. Somewhere I read that David Niven had originally been considered for this role. I can envision Niven bringing the part a self mocking  amusement that Knowles lacked. Niven, as we know, had a flair for light humour. Seeing Niven playing the lute, for example, as Robin and Little John battle with staffs on the dead trunk over the stream might have added a tiny something to the scene not there with Knowles' blandly smiling contribution.

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Flynn wrote in his autobiography that he fell in love with Olivia de Havilland while they were making Charge of the Light Brigade. I know she later said there had been talk of marriage between them but I wonder if he ever actually said those words to her face. Probably so, I suppose.

But there he was shortly before his death laying the words out in print for the world and, more importantly, Olivia to see. And Flynn knew she would see those words. I wonder how she responded to seeing them in print. Surprised? Did it bring her regrets that things didn't work out differently between them? From what I've seen of Flynn it's just as well. He would undoubtedly have only broken her heart.

Still, I read that long after his demise Olivia would frequently re-read parts or all of My Wicked Wicked Ways, underlining passages in his book, trying to understand a self destructive, contradictory man better than during the years in which she actually knew him. He obviously still bedevilled her. Decades after Flynn's death it appears that old crushes died hard and Olivia was still thinking about him, though she kept most of her thoughts to herself.

It would have been fascinating to speak to Olivia in a frank moment asking her for how she  felt about Flynn after all those years. In fact I summoned my nerve and sent her a letter, asking her if she had any reflections about him she may care to share. Not surprisingly (and as I expected), I received no response. Oh, well, I tried.

The closest she ever came to expressing her feelings about Flynn, to the best of my knowledge, was when she said her that feelings about him at the time had been very real. But she didn't, that I know of, say how she felt about him 40, 50 years after his death. I guess it's none of our business anyway. But the romantic in me wishes that once, just once, the lady had opened up a little about her feelings about him.

Oh, well, we'll always have them together in their movies.

Here's the original Robin Hood ending that didn't make it into the film. If only life had the same happy endings you find in the movies.

File:Olivia de Havilland and Errol Flynn in The Adventures of Robin Hood  trailer.JPG - Wikimedia Commons

 

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