Remember that Frank Sinatra film from all those decades ago called Robin and the 7 Hoods? Junk movie when the Ratpack, including Dino, Sammy and sad eyed Joey Bishop, emailed their roles home from the Las Vegas shoot.
Not that the casino thieves were going to give the cash to unemployed mothers in LA or indigent street kids in Cleveland. But no problem. It was a good catchy title that mattered. Not much else in the movie really did. But allude to Robin Hood (robbing hoods?) and you’ll catch a lot of ticket buyers.
But the question remains. After 800 years of Mr Hood setting up home in Sherwood Forest (spoiler alert: he didn’t exist), he still rakes up interest. Maybe it is because it’s the ageless story of the outsider, the one against the many, a myth that settled nicely into cowboy movies, space films and urban dramas. A myth lives if it rings true. An outlaw’s gotta do, what an outlaw’s gotta do….
And so, with this living legend, this week there are a handful of Merry Men films studded on the box about the lad who lived under an oak tree, had a lovely girlfriend called Maid Marian and was the bug in the rug that enraged bad Prince John.
If you missed Saturday night’s Robin Hood with muscle head Russell Crowe, don’t worry, there’s other stuff around.
This Friday is back to back Robin confections, both coincidentally about Mr Hood’s son.The Bandit of Sherwood Forest (Film4, 16.05) has handsome Cornel Wilde as Robert of Huntingdon clothed in Lincoln green and partnered by old-time comedian Edgar Buchanan as Friar Tuck. This 1946 movie was filmed outside of Hollywood to get that real English feel of the countryside and supposedly there are some good sword fights and all that 12th century macho stuff.
Following this piece of tosh is The Son of Robin Hood from 1958. (Film4, 17.45) and I don’t have to give much away to explain it too is about one of Robin’s spawn taking up the bow. Loads of good solid character actors flesh out this second rate movie: Marius Goring, David Farrer and even an actress called Noel Hood (no relation) as a prioress. Watch it at your own peril. But Ok for a rainy afternoon.
The tale must still have childhood resonance because there is a TV cartoon series now on called Mischief in Sherwood. It plays throughout the week here and there on kids channel Pop. I haven’t seen it but teenaged Robin of Locksley and Young Prince John continue the medieval bunfight.
To round things out, I quickly googled Robin Hood movies and came up with 34 going back to 1908, including O Misterio de Robin Hood, Miss Robin Hood and Men In Tights . And there’ll be more. Hollywood announced four new Robin Hood films upcoming in the next year or two.
But will they outdo my favourite? It is Robin and Marian< which is a bittersweet love story of an old crochety Robin (Sean Connery) returning from the Crusades to be helped by a wilful Marian (Audrey Hepburn) who entered a nunnery. Great support here from British stalwarts Robert Shaw, Ronnie Barker (yes, Ronnie Barker), Nicol Williamson and Ian Holm.
I give this Nottinghamshire hero another 800 years of filmic life the way things are going: Robin v ISIS: Desert Clash; Men of Sherwood and the EU Referendum; and, Green Tide: How the Merrie Men Saved the Icebergs.
The legend continues.