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DVD Reviews

HTF REVIEW: The Adventures Of Robin Hood - 2 Disc SE (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED).

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#1 of 28 Herb Kane

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Posted October 02 2003 - 03:18 PM

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The Adventures Of Robin Hood – Two Disc SE

Studio: Warner Brothers
Year: 1938
Rated: PG
Film Length: 102 Mins
Aspect Ratio: Standard (OAR)
Audio: DD Mono
Subtitles: English, French & Spanish

The Feature:
The Adventures Of Robin Hood is the final installment of the recently released Warner Legends Set. It’s hard to say what might have happened if Jack Warner hadn’t been feuding with James Cagney at the time, since he was originally chosen to play the part of Robin Hood. Flynn was his second choice after seeing him in 1935’s Captain Blood. Ultimately, he was the right pick. The film was nominated for four Academy Awards including Best Picture. Although it didn’t win Best Picture, it did win for Best Art Direction (Carl Jules Weyl), Best Film Editing (Ralph Dawson) and Best Music, Original Score (Erich Wolfgang Korngold). Columbia’s You Can’t Take It With You took the Best Picture award.

Even though Jack Warner approved the initial budget of 1.6M, the film wound up costing 2.0M – the most expensive WB picture up to that point. Even though the film was a great success, the studio still ended with a yearly deficit of more than 1.9M.

Even the slightest glimpse of Flynn (at least for me) associates the legend with the role of the witty Robin Hood. After watching several Flynn films recently including The Adventures Of Robin Hood, I couldn’t help but think there was no other actor who’d have had as much fun dressing for work… Another footnote worthy of mention was the star’s athletic ability. It was that obvious quality which eventually led to this role (among others) and he insisted on doing his own stunts.

Directed by Michael Curtiz, The Adventures Of Robin Hood is the classic story of Robin Hood (played by Errol Flynn) and his group of oppressed Saxons who eventually fight back against their oppressor, Prince John (played by Claude Rains) and his henchman Sir Guy of Gisbourne (played by Basil Rathbone).

Turned outlaw, Robin Hood steals from the rich to give to the poor. After they are taxed heavily by the Sheriff of Nottingham, the group finally rebels. He assembles the demoralized group of Saxons and forms an adept group known as the Merry Men. During the struggle, he falls in love with Maid Marion (played by Olivia deHavilland) who is the love interest of his adversary Sir Guy of Gisbourne.

Not only must Robin Hood fight to win the love of Maid Marion, he and his group of Merry Men must fight to keep Prince John from taking over the throne of England held by his brother King Richard the Lion Heart (played by Ian Hunter).

The Adventures Of Robin Hood was shot in glorious Technicolor. The video presentation of this film is nothing short of spectacular. The colors are absolutely breathtaking. In fact at times, the colors reminded me of an oil painting where you could almost imagine they were textured. Are they slightly over saturated…? Yes. And I’ll be honest, I prefer many of the Technicolor offerings to be slightly oversaturated. The contrast was also exceptional. There are many scenes where the Saxons are hiding up in the trees which really seem to show off the film like 3D quality of this picture. Very impressive. Black levels were equally impressive. The level of grain was minimal. The level of detail was also exceptional although there are scenes where the image appears to be rather soft.

Remember, this film is almost 66 years old, and there are a few items worth mentioning, most notably, what seemed like light instability during the first few scenes and at the 61:50 mark of the film. Also, the picture seemed very much out of focus at the 91:00 mark and one can only assume this is not a transfer issue. Just observations folks…

Considering the age of this film, this is a stunning video presentation.

The audio soundtrack is a DD Mono offering. Of the three films represented in the Legends Set, The Adventures Of Robin Hood offers the best audio presentation – that’s not to say the others are bad (they’re not, in fact they’re exceptional)… this is simply a step above. Dialogue is clear and crisp never harsh or even remotely distorted. In fact, it’s even dynamic at times. The movie is filled with action scenes and a great score which lends to the excitement, all of which is exhibited beautifully. The soundtrack is also free of any hiss… and that’s a good thing!

An excellent audio offering…

Special Features:
Once again both discs are loaded with special features. On disc one is the feature film as well as a number of extras. First up is a Commentary By Author/Film Historian Rudy Behlmer. This is a voice-over of the entire film with Rudy offering up some interesting tidbits and history relating to the film including some of the film’s inconsistencies from the novel. Behlmer has a rather soothing voice and listening to him never gets monotonous. Very thorough and informative. Duration: 101:49 Mins.

Music Only Track is as you might imagine the entire film with just the music score only – no dialogue.

Warner Night At The Movies starts off with yet another commentary from Leonard Maltin explaining why many of the extras have been added to this particular featurette. His intro is 2:41 Mins. Next is a theatrical trailer for the great 1938 Cagney film, Angels With Dirty Faces… WB, this movie really needs to be released! The next feauture is a Newsreel which is nothing more than a 1:23 minute feature on a new machine gun carrier invented for military use. Freddie Rich And His Orchestra are featured next with a number of swing tunes from the period. Duration: 11:05 Mins. Finally for the segment is the 1938 Looney Tunes short, Katnip Kollege. Unfortunately this particular short hasn’t yet been restored and a number of scratches and dirt are present. It’s one I’ve never seen before and I’m happy to have it. Duration: 07:25 Mins.

The next special feature is an extensive collection of Errol Flynn trailers titled, the Flynn Trailer Gallery. It contains twelve trailers from the following films: Captain Blood, The Prince & The Pauper, The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Dive Bomber, They Died With Their Boots On, 1948 re-issue of The Adventures of Robin Hood, Dodge City, The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex, The Sea Hawk, Objective Burma, Kim and lastly The Master of the Ballantrae.

The final special feature from disc one are text listings for Awards and Cast & Crew.

Disc two starts off with a fabulous documentary titled, Glorious Technicolor narrated by Angela Lansbury. This in my opinion is the icing of the special features on this set. It covers a mini biography on the Technicolor process founder, Dr. Herbert Kalmus. There are a number of commentaries from likes of Jack Cardiff who recalls various experiences as well as techniques used during different films. Covered are most of the original pictures that used the process including animation at Disney and WB. Personally, I found the documentary worth the price of admission alone. Duration: 60:04

Welcome To Sherwood – The Story of The Adventures Of Robin Hood is another commentary from Rudy Behlmer which describes how WB wanted to change direction from their gritty gangster films to go on to making films like Robin Hood. Duration: 55:42.

Two more Looney Tunes are featured; Rabbit Hood from 1949 with the infamous Errol Flynn scene dubbed in… “Welcome to Sherwood”… and Robin Hood Daffy from 1958. Both look great on the big screen and if they are any indication of what is to come, many of us will be pleased with the upcoming animation sets.

Up next are two short films. The first is Cavalcade of Archery which is a short biography of Howard Hill who was a pro archer used during the filming of Robin Hood. Duration: 9:24 Mins. The next short is titled The Cruise Of The Zaca. This is a portrayal of Flynn, an avid yachtsman and a chronicle of some of his voyages with various friends and family. Duration: 19:56.

Last but not least is a short feature titled Robin Hood Through The Ages which is a brief account of the various Robin Hood productions that exist today including the 1922 silent version starring Douglas Fairbanks. Duration: 6:52.

Here’s Looking At You, Warner Bros.

Also, as indicated earlier, if you purchase the Warner Legends Set, you receive the bonus disc titled, Here’s Looking At You, Warner Bros. This is 108 minute documentary on the history of Warner Brothers narrated by Clint Eastwood, Barbra Streisand, Chevy Chase and Goldie Hawn among others. It starts with a biography of the brothers and how they eventually became involved in the motion picture business. Included is a history of the company’s films from silents to the transformation to talkies. There are a number of interviews with many of the long time Warner contract players (even if they were only brief at times…). Also included is a brief account on WB animation. There are tons of clips from many of the landmark films the studio was responsible for including many hilarious outtakes. While the 1991 documentary is slightly dated (with Clint Eastwood sporting much more hair…) it is still a very informative documentary offering up many facts and tidbits that aficionados are sure to appreciate. If you’re even remotely interested in any or most of the films included in the Legends Set, I would dissuade you from purchasing them individually and hold out for the Set. The documentary is a nice addition… especially for the price.

Final Thoughts:
Regardless of the other Robin Hood productions of this great story, this 1938 version starring Errol Flynn is clearly the definitive version. The sixty six year old movie has become instantly scene recognizable as one of the greatest action adventures ever made.

Just in case you can’t tell, I am absolutely delighted with the Legends Set released by Warner Bros. It’s certainly obvious their commitment to the format and more importantly, their treasures are being given the attention they deserve. If you are a fan of these movies or of classics in general, you won’t be disappointed. Highly Recommended…!!!

Released: September 30th, 2003
My Top 25 Noirs:

25. 711 Ocean Drive (1950), 24. Odds Against Tomorrow (1959), 23. Desperate (1947), 22. Pushover (1954), 21. The Blue Dahlia (1946), 20. The File on Thelma Jordon (1949), 19. He Ran All the Way (1951), 18. The Asphalt Jungle (1950), 17. The Killing (1956), 16. I Walk Alone (1948),...

#2 of 28 Adam_S



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Posted October 02 2003 - 05:04 PM

Bravo on an awesome trio of Reviews Herb! I look forward to your thoughts on the Looney Tunes Golden Collection (my next dvd purchase). Posted Image

This set should be MINE tomorrow, if UPS ever delivers it. Posted Image

#3 of 28 oscar_merkx


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Posted October 02 2003 - 08:54 PM

thansk for another great review.

still waiting for my copy to arrive

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#4 of 28 StevenFC


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Posted October 02 2003 - 08:58 PM

Thanks Herb for working overtime on these. Although I doubt you would consider it work.Posted Image Boy, I don't know. I just don't see Cagney as Robin Hood. But of course if I hadn't seen "Yankee Doodle Dandy" yet, I would probably say "He did what?" "Your saying James Cagney did that?"

So who knows what the result would have been. But I'm with you--Errol Flynn just seems to fit that roll perfectly.

I hope these disappear off the shelves quickly so that Warner will open up their vaults to a lot more classics.
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#5 of 28 Lou Sytsma

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Posted October 03 2003 - 12:17 AM

Nice disc and review Herb. Colour is glorious but the picture does seem to flicker somewhat especially during lighter scenes. Considering the age of the film it's still a miraculous sight to behold.

Great disc and package!
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#6 of 28 Chuck L

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Posted October 03 2003 - 12:17 AM

Looking forward to picking this one up either this weekend or next...great review for an even greater classic film!

#7 of 28 Adam_Reiter


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Posted October 03 2003 - 05:24 AM

Herb, OUTSTANDING effort put into this Trilogy of WB titles. We all appreciate the extra effort. BRAVO, BRAVO!!

Who knows, I might even watch some of these old movies!.. hehe.

I am definately going to check out The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre

#8 of 28 Bill Williams

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Posted October 03 2003 - 06:08 AM

Got my copy in hand during my lunch break, and I'm looking to give it a spin this weekend. This should be a real treat!
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#9 of 28 Dome Vongvises

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Posted October 03 2003 - 06:16 AM

Herb, if you ever feel like the work load is too much, you can always send some discs my way. Posted Image

Thanks for the review. I want that box set now.

#10 of 28 Steve Christou

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Posted October 04 2003 - 11:27 PM

Nice review, got my copy nearly a week ago, avidly watched the film and every extra, fantastic package, it's been a firm favorite of mine since I was a kid. Errol Flynn was the quintessential Robin Hood, no one comes near to his portrayal. The dvd was perfect, the film faultless, well except for that damn car driving by in one scene.Posted Image

I hope Michael Curtiz' The Sea Hawk gets similar treatment next year.

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#11 of 28 John Hodson

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Posted October 05 2003 - 03:03 AM

I hope Michael Curtiz' The Sea Hawk gets similar treatment next year.

...and Captain Blood pretty please Posted Image

Looking forward already to the Warner Legends box set Vol 2 Posted Image (and I haven't even got box one yet!)

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#12 of 28 Gordon McMurphy

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Posted October 05 2003 - 06:16 AM

Swashbuckling review, Herb! Posted Image Posted Image

I'm delighted to finally have this Legendary Film on a high-quality DVD. Absolutely great.

This boxed set is the greatest DVD bargain yet: £34/$56 for seven beautiful DVDs.
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#13 of 28 oscar_merkx


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Posted October 05 2003 - 11:00 AM


You are not wrong there

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#14 of 28 Larry Sutliff

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Posted October 05 2003 - 11:46 AM

Great review, Herb!

I've watched ADVENTURES... twice, once to just savor the film, the second time to listen to Rudy Behlmer's commentary. I think that ROBIN HOOD is probably my favorite movie(well, it's up there for me with BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, THE THIRD MAN and the STAR WARS films). It's just perfect in every way. And the score may be the best ever written for a Hollywood film.
The DVD itself is nothing short of spectacular. I've owned this film in every video format, and this is the best by far. The color is so amazing that it made me realize more than ever how beautiful Olivia DeHaviland was in her prime. Besides the film, the extras are terrific. The documentaries are all worth watching, the commentary is very informative and the added attraction of those classic Warners cartoons is the icing on the cake.
Definitely a must for any collection of great films.

#15 of 28 Geo Gabor

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Posted October 05 2003 - 04:00 PM

Great review, thanks! This was the first movie of the three-pack that I watched, and I watched the extra features the following evening. I still chuckle when thinking about the trivia fact that
Olivia deHavilland's horse was Trigger!

I have only one qualm about the DVD, and was wondering if anybody else noticed this. When I ran through the Night At the Movies featurettes on disc 1, I found myself having to adjust the volume up or down whenever a new featurette came on. Did anyone else notice this? I don't mean for this to be a downer, as I think this is a great DVD, but I did find this to be somewhat irritating, say somewhere between losing a nickel and having your car not start in the morning.

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#16 of 28 Jeff Swearingen

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Posted October 05 2003 - 04:32 PM

Is the doc really worth having? the local BB didn't have any of the box sets and I just bought them all separately before I read this thread and saw the bonus disc info

Just watched a little of Rabbit Hood on disc 2. Credits have some video problems visible on my lower grade 27" set. And then the black bars go away and the cartoon goes fool screen. I hope that the LT collections later this year don't switch aspect ratio like this.

#17 of 28 Zen Butler

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Posted October 06 2003 - 02:34 AM

This set is a must. I do agree with a few scenes being a bit "unstable" but other than that the picture is wonderful. The only indication of the difference between battered prints is in Rabbit Hood, with the dubbed in scene. That dubbed scence compared to the restoration is amazing. I have not thumbed through all the extras but I have not seen anything pertaining to the restoration itself. Am I missing something?


#18 of 28 Patrick McCart

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Posted October 06 2003 - 04:28 AM

Just watched a little of Rabbit Hood on disc 2. Credits have some video problems visible on my lower grade 27" set. And then the black bars go away and the cartoon goes fool screen. I hope that the LT collections later this year don't switch aspect ratio like this

Rabbit Hood was released in 1949, so 1.33:1 is correct. The aspect ratio isn't changed, but the credits are reduced to reduce cropping due to overscan.

#19 of 28 Shane_Anthony


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Posted October 06 2003 - 09:28 AM

Excellent movie the restored technicolor looked fabulous Posted Image

Really enjoyed the xtras as well espically the 1938 outake reel. Who knew even back then people cursed too Posted Image

#20 of 28 Derek U

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Posted October 08 2003 - 11:46 AM

I just got mine today and I have a quick question. At the start of the Technicolor documentary, right after the first interview, is there a digital artifact. The reason I ask is that I want to know if I have a bad disc.