Band of Robin Hood classics arrives on DVD
By Jim Cheng
When Russell Crowe picks up the quiver in "Robin Hood," out today, he'll be traveling Sherwood Forest in footsteps that go back to 1922's silent "Robin Hood," starring Douglas Fairbanks, and include everything from sitcoms to musicals to TV series.
"Robin is one of those total heroes. The story has always fascinated people," said film historian and TCM host Robert Osborne.
Though the 2010 version has dispensed with the customary tricorner hat and tights, fans can sample the Robin of olde in a quartet of films that hits stores Tuesday and are available on DVD for the first time.
"The Bandit of Sherwood Forest" (1946); "Prince of Thieves" (1948); "Rogues of Sherwood Forest" (1950) and "Sword of Sherwood Forest" (1960) all are available from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
Any Robin Hood film is overshadowed by 1938's "The Adventures of Robin Hood," starring Errol Flynn. "Adventures" was a crowd-pleaser and a critical favorite. It led the field that year with four Academy Award nominations, winning three. Still, these other entries have their place in the Hood.
The appeal is timeless, Osborne said, because "it's basically a costumed Western: You know who the good guys are and the bad guys are and are waiting to see how it turns out."
He notes that "Bandit" was an ambitious undertaking for Columbia Pictures. Cornel Wilde plays Robin Hood's son, Robert. Wilde was a hot young star coming off an Oscar nomination for "A Song to Remember."
"Prince" stars Jon Hall as Robin, an action star known for 1944's "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves." "Rogues" stars John Derek as Robin Hood's son and features the last performance of Alan Hale, who played Little John in this and two other Robin Hood movies.
"Sword" stars Richard Greene, who played Robin Hood on TV from 1955 to 1960. Look for Oliver Reed and Desmond Llewelyn, who later would play Q in the James Bond movies.
"Robin Hood is one of literature's original superheroes," said Marc Rashba, Sony Home Entertainment's vice president of worldwide marketing. He said the release of Russell Crowe's "Robin Hood" "created an opportune moment for us to find four classic gems that have been never released before." The company is aiming for both collectors and for "grandparents and parents who can share them with their families."