The Adventures of Robin Hood. 1938. USA. Directed by Michael Curtiz, William Keighley. Screenplay by Norman Reilly Raine, Seton I. Miller. With Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Basil Rathbone, Claude Rains, Alan Hale. 35mm restoration by The Museum of Modern Art, with support from the Celeste Bartos Fund for Film Preservation; courtesy Warner Bros. 102 min.
Michael Curtiz’s Robin Hood is the definitive film version of this classic tale—Errol Flynn was born to play the folk hero—and is vital to the history of three-strip Technicolor. Although the Warner Bros. publicity machine crowed that “only the rainbow can duplicate its brilliance,” Sol Polito and Tony Gaudio’s visual design and color palette were in fact far more subtle and complex, as MoMA’s restoration painstakingly reveals. “That the movie stands up to such regular inspection is not just because of rippling action, the stained-glass Technicolor, or the fabulous Korngold score. It is because of Errol Flynn,” David Thomson writes. “Flynn does not deal in depth, but he has a freshness, a galvanizing energy, a cheerful gaiety (in the old sense) made to inspire boys.”