Why 'The Adventures of Robin Hood' is my ultimate feel-good film

Olivia at 'Meanwhile in Rivendell' is holding a Robin Hood Week over the next few days, and I couldn't pass it up. The Adventures of Robin Hood (the Errol Flynn version) was one of my favourite films as a kid - I always considered it the 'real people' version of the Disney film - and even now it's a film I return to whenever I'm feeling low, to let the genuine merriness of the Merry Men cheer me up. It's old-fashioned and cheesy and silly. But also rousing and light-hearted and a lot of fun. And there's lots of throwing back of heads and belly-laughing, which I count in its favour. I think everyone's in need of something feel-good this week, so here are my reasons why Errol Flynn's Robin will make you smile.

The music 

From Gone with the Wind to Harry Potter, an iconic film score is quick to bring memories rushing back. And there's nothing more nostalgic for me than the Robin Hood music. I only need to hear the first few bars and I immediately feel a bit better. I think it's epic and uplifting and just fab.

The dialogue

If I could describe The Adventures of Robin Hood in one word, it would be fun. A big part of that is due to the quotability of the dialogue, and the joyful delivery of the lines. There's lots of (as much as I hate the term) banter, as well as sassy come-backs and cheesy one liners. Not forgetting...

Rebellious-ness and speeches!

Another of my favourite things about this film - and every Robin Hood adaptation - is it's rebellious spirit. Everyone loves a rebel, especially when they're rebelling against injustice, and I've always been drawn to Robin Hood as a character. It's hard to tell whether I was more in love with Errol Flynn or that cartoon fox as a kid, but either way, Robin Hood was my first crush. Robin gets some great speeches in this one, and I love Marian's too.

Romance (and chemistry!)

Speaking of Marian, every time she and Robin are on screen together I can't help but grin like an idiot. They're so fun together, and there's so much chemistry. Olivia de Havilland is very lovely (and wears some lovely costumes - although some questionable ones too) and I like the way the relationship between Robin and Marian is built up - she's on the wrong side of the conflict but begins to realise that she's living in a bubble, and the injustice he's fighting is real. I love that scene at the feast. (Got to put in a mention for Much and Bess too!) I found this great interview too (below) where Olivia de Havilland talks about her relationship with Errol Flynn - they never got together, probably because he was a pretty terrible human being from the sound of it - but the attraction was definitely real. (Go to 3:05)

Cheesy (but good) fight scenes

I think 'cheesy but good' could describe almost everything about this film, but I'm focusing on the fight scenes here. The most famous is probably the sword-fight between Robin and Basil Rathbone's Guy of Gisborne (on the stairs during the final battle - you'll have seen it parodied in loads of stuff, with the shadows on the wall...) or the fight on the bridge between Robin and Little John, but my favourite is Robin and Friar Tuck. There's nothing gritty about this film - every fight and ambush seems to end in jolly times...

The Merry men - and women

You've never seen them so merry. And you never will again. The thing I love best about this film is that everyone laughs so much, and it's infectious. I've shared this video on my blog before but it does make me smile, just like the film does. 

So, yeah. The Adventures of Robin Hood is the ultimate corny swashbuckler. The men wear tights, the villains are pantomime-esque and there's lots of sword fights with no blood. But everyone seems to be having a great time and I always have a great time watching it. I can't recommend it highly enough - it's like a Disney film for adults (and kids) with lots of swashbuckling and fun. And laughing. Lots of laughing. 

My top moments (in no particular order) :

- The merry men wriggling up the trees during the ambush, in time with the jaunty music.

- When King Richard reveals his true identity to Robin and the merry men.

- When Will Scarlett sits playing his lute in time with Robin/Little John fight, and looking like someone dropped him on his head as a baby.

- When Robin laughs at Marian eating chicken (I don't know why this gets me so much).

- Outlaw extras dancing in a circle holding hands at the feast in the woods.

- Marian's speech "I am ashamed - but it's a shame that I'm a Norman..."

- Robin speaking at the gallows oak

- "Take that stupid Bonnet off!"

- Much and Bess

- Robin and Marian balcony scene, also at the end: "may I obey all your commands with equal pleasure sire!"

Do you have a favourite version of Robin Hood? What's your go-to feel-good film?


  1. Yeeeeeessss! I love, love this movie! The absolutely best Robin Hood story hands down forever!

    And for all the reasons you said! It's just so dang happy. And fun. And adorable. And I love Errol Flynn!! This was definitely the role he was born to play. The chemistry between him and Olivia was perfection! And all that hilarious dialogue and one-liners and just everything - seriously! Thank you for this beautiful post! Now I know I'm not the only one who knows this movie is LIFE for Robin Hood fans! And classic fans also. :D

    1. Thanks! Definitely my number one Robin Hood haha (although I love the Disney cartoon too!)


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