Monday, June 26, 2017


This Italian adventure takes the mythical English outlaw hero and plunks him down in the middle of a Hercules movie, sort of. Though all the men are fully clothed, this has the feel of a peplum (sword and sandals) film. The story plays out as a sequel to the 1938 Errol Flynn classic, though it messes with the canonical lore a bit. The exposition that is delivered over the first half-hour tells us that when Robin took off to join the Crusades, his father became ruler of Sherwood, but Robin was kidnapped by a band of pirates and held for ransom. The news that gets back to Sherwood is that Robin is dead, and his father's wicked assistant Brooks imprisons the Merry Men, kills Dad, and takes over as lord of the land. When we join the story, the pirates run into a huge storm and they abandon ship, with the leader One-Eye (who wears an eye patch but who actually has two healthy eyes) giving Robin Hood his freedom. They all wash up on shore, very near Sherwood (as a road sign in Italian indicates), and Robin gets the pirates to help him in his mission to bring down Brooks in exchange for a share of Brooks' gold. Complications arise in the persons of Karen, a good girl whom Brooks intends to marry against her will but who actually falls for Robin, and Lizbeth, Brooks' daughter, a bad girl who hates Karen and wants Robin for herself.

Though I have to dock this movie for some ludicrously inept swordplay, there are a few points of interest. One major character, Sweet Pea, is a black woman, one of four Saracens held captive by the pirates; though she's just in the background for much of the film, she takes center stage at the end, triggering a revolt of the peasants just as Robin is about to be hanged. (I couldn't find the actress’s name but she bore a resemblance to Nell Carter of the 80s TV show Gimmie A Break.) She's fun—and her comic relief pursuit of One-Eye is successful in the end. The burly One-Eye makes for a decent sidekick, and his fighting entreaty, "Come at me!" feels quite modern, just needing a "Bro!" at the end. Lex Barker as Robin Hood is a disappointment, more or less sleepwalking his way through his role, and being surprisingly awkward in his swashbuckling. All the actors are dubbed, and whoever does the voice of Brooks seems to trying for Claude Rains. The final brouhaha, led by Sweet Pea is fun. While some of the earlier action scenes aren't very exciting, the rousing score tries to trick you into thinking they are. The film was shot widescreen (2.35:1), but the version I saw on Amazon Instant Video, while apparently widescreen, has been distorted to fit a 1.85:1 screen—I had to adjust my TV's viewing ratio to make the people look normal. [Streaming]

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