Looking at a DVD cover of THE BANDIT OF SHERWOOD FOREST (1946), a friend asked me who played Robin Hood in that film. Silly question. I hadn’t seen the film but the cover showed Cornel Wilde and an older man whom I didn’t recognise.
So I immediately said Cornel Wilde.
Wrong answer…character actor Russell Hicks is Robin Hood in this film and Cornel is his son,Robert of Nottingham.
What a coup for Russell Hicks – adding his name to the many actors who have played the famous outlaw.
I’m sure Columbia would have preferred to have ‘Robin Hood’ in the film’s title. ( “The Son Of Robin Hood” was a proposed title.)
In this period of the late 1940s to the early 50s, none of the Robin Hood films had the character’s name in the title.
Surely Warner Brothers didn’t have some kind of copyright on the name?
The Bandit Of Sherwood Forest was in beautiful technicolor and had a great if unusual cast – Ray Teal as Little John,John Abbott as Will Scarlet and Edgar Buchanan as Friar Tuck.
The ideal bad guys are Henry Daniell and George MacCready.
There is no Lady Marian, but Anita Louise is Lady Catherine..
Within in a four year period,1946 to 1950, there were three Robin Hood films.
The one Robin Hood film that rarely gets mentioned is PRINCE OF THIEVES(1948) which starred Jon Hall,Patricia Morison ( and Walter Sande as Little John.)
And in 1950,Columbia got busy again with THE ROGUES OF SHERWOOD FOREST, casting John Derek as the son of Robin Hood.
Alan Hale played Little John for an incredible third time (1922 and 1938 previously).
In the 1922 Douglas Fairbanks ROBIN HOOD, Wallace Beery played King Richard!
Other Robin Hoods in the classic era were Don Taylor,Richard Greene and Richard Todd.
The Robin Hood name didn’t appear in titles again until the TV series,THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD with Richard Greene.
I read earlier this year that a new film was planned and would be called HOOD. (That’s as bad as calling Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple,MARPLE for the TV series.)
Of course, there is only one Robin Hood.
In July,2015 the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (conductor Timothy Brock) gave a concert of music from Alfred Hitchcock’s films and it was recorded for BBC Radio 3.
I was lucky enough to be at the concert and it was a thrill to hear the 80 piece orchestra play the music of Frank Waxman,Dimitri Tiomkin,Bernard Hermann and Miklos Rozsa.
Films featured included Rebecca,Notorious,North By Northwest,Pyscho,Vertigo and Dial M for Murder.
Listening to the Russian musician,Lydia Kavina, play the theremin for Spellbound reminded me how amazing this instrument is. I didn’t know anything about the theremin other than its sound in The Day The Earth Stood Still. That eerie,ominous sound when Gort’s visor slowly raises.(Music by Bernard Hermann).
Ms Kavina, on her Facebook page, said,” It was a great enjoyment to play Spellbound with the BBC SSO… The conductor Timothy Brock was a student of Miklos Rozsa himself.”
Composer Miklos Rozsa used the theremin in both The Lost Weekend and Spellbound.
It was also heard in The Spiral Staircase , The Thing From Another World and The Ten Commandments.
Comments about the theremin include,”You can see it, hear it, but you can’t touch it!”
When RCA bought the rights to manufacture and sell theremins in America in the 1920s, they boasted, “Nothing more complicated than waving one’s hands in the air!”
Of course that wasn’t so. Invented by Leon Theremin in 1920, it was one of the first electronic instruments. In 1927,the inventor himself gave a concert at New York’s Carnegie Hall, and the advertising talked about “Creating music out of a wave of the hand.”
Trying to understand how the theremin works isn’t easy. It looks like a radio receiver, with a vertical antenna on top and a horizontal metal loop on the side. The musician’s right hand moves in the air near the antenna ( an electromagnetic field), while the volume is controlled by the left hand.
Lydia Kavina,playing in this concert, was one of the last pupils of Leon Theremin who died in 1993, aged 97.
Owners of theremins in Hollywood included Cary Grant,Harpo Marx,Charles Chaplin and Edward Everett Horton.
And even Jerry Lewis had fun with the theremin in The Delicate Delinquent.
Another little comedy gem which only ran 60 minutes.
There are four principal players – Chester Morris,Fay Wray,Lionel Stander and Raymond Walburn. They team perfectly in this light comedy.
Chester and Lionel are two taxi drivers, Jimmy and Fingers. The film opens with the two of them chatting beside their cabs.
Fingers hands Jimmy his watch saying, “My conscience had been bothering me, I lifted your watch last night.”
Jimmy replies,”Hey.listen,Fingers,didn’t that little stretch up the river convince you crime don’t pay?”
Fingers answers,”Crime and me are strangers. You misunderstand me,Jimmy. It ain’t pickin’ pockets. It’s the technique. That’s what fascinates me.
In order to see that I ain’t lost it,I got to try it out once in a while – on a friend.
What’s theory without practice!”
Fingers doing some pick-pocketing becomes a standing joke through the film.
Jimmy has a regular customer in Mr.Clifton (Raymond Walburn) who is a newspaper society columnist. As he driving along,Jimmy asks Mr.Clifton how he became a society reporter.
Mr.Clifton explains, “I started out to be a police reporter but the first murder case I covered,I described the murderess’s gown so well,that I was shifted to the Society page.”
Jimmy leaves Mr.Clifton off at the home of a rich society family ( he is covering the wedding of the daughter of the family)
Jimmy waits outside for another fare and suddenly Mary(Fay Wray), in a wedding dress, dashes out and into the taxi,telling Jimmy to drive away.
She tells him that she couldn’t go through with the marriage and asks for his help. He agrees as long as he gets paid for his time. He gives her a coat to cover the dress. She doesn’t want to go home for a while and he takes her back to his room.
There’s a touch of It Happened One Night as Jimmy puts up a screen round his bed – she has to sleep on the couch.
Next morning,she cooks breakfast while he goes out to buy her some clothes – for which he expects to get paid.
He comments,”You’ll have a lot to tell Park Avenue when you get back. You met one of the great unwashed who didn’t eat his peas with his knife.”
A nice twist in the tale is that Mary isn’t an heiress – she finally admits she is a model who was showing the wedding gown to the bride to be when a pearl necklace went missing and Mary is accused.
Jimmy,Mr.Clifton and Fingers end up helping to prove who the real thief is and the film ends with the foursome eating spaghetti in Jimmy’s room.
Ward Bond is in one scene, as a policeman.
I liked Chester Morris’s pugnacious Jimmy – reminded me very much of James Cagney’s delivery.
Lionel Stander is always funny and Raymond Walburn got a chance to be a more positive character than he usually played. Fay Wray was fine too as the girl in trouble.
Played by anyone other than Claude Rains, Captain Louis Renault in CASABLANCA might not have been such a likeable character.
We really should despise him. He seems to believe in nothing but lining his own pockets and taking advantage of any woman who takes his fancy.
But played with such charm by Claude Rains,you warm to Renault. Who else could call Rick (Humphrey Bogart) ‘Ricky’, or say, “I’m only a poor,corrupt official.”
And it is after all Renault who gets to say the immortal line,
“Round up the usual suspects.”
And he does the right thing in the end!
So here’s to Louis. Who knows what he and Rick will get up to when they leave Casablanca. I’d like to think they remained friends.
Is he thinking, ‘Is she worth it?’
Walter Neff contemplates the situation before it is too late. But it’s already too late. Wheels are in motion. He may be behind the wheel but Phyllis Dietrichson is doing the driving.