Robin Hood was a dream project for dashing Douglas Fairbanks and he brought the full resources of his studio to the film, building the largest standing set ever for Prince John's magnificent castle and filling open plains ... more »with thousands of extras. The sense of scale still awes audiences, yet none of it detracts from the vigorous presence of Fairbanks, a hearty hero with grace, gymnastic prowess, and a sense of humor as big as Sherwood Forest. It takes some time for this first incarnation of the great bandit hero to get started--the first hour is a little slow as it establishes the conflict between Prince John and the Earl of Huntington (Fairbanks) in moody scenes inside the dark, torch-lit castle. But when the disenfranchised Earl transforms into forest warrior Robin Hood with a gazelle-like entrance, the film becomes a sweeping adventure classic full of swordfights, jousts, larger-than-life stunts, and Fairbanks's brand of jaunty heroism. Allan Dwan balances the enormous sense of scale with scenes of intimacy and quiet, all realized in a rich black-and-white palette of contrasts both bold and delicate. Wallace Beery costars as Richard the Lionhearted with Fairbanks favorite Sam De Grasse as the villainous Prince John and Alan Hale as Robin's faithful squire turned comrade in arms Little John, a role he also played in the famous Errol Flynn remake of 1938. Fairbanks fans each have their favorites, but all agree than none is as magnificent as Robin Hood. --Sean Axmaker« less
Allen W. Wright | Toronto, Ontario, Canada | 06/19/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Ah, a budget of $1 million. It sounds so small today when there are films with budgets topping $200 million. But back in 1922, this was the most expensive movie made. And it's clear where the money has gone. Lush sets, huge castles created just for this movie (with special tapestries, hand and foot holds, etc. to allow Fairbanks to show off his stuntman's prowess.) And then the extras. In one of the earliest ballads, Robin Hood had a band of 140 men. Here, there are far, far more. And no digitally extras either. Just low-paid (or more likely, no-paid) folks prancing around. Yes, prancing. Sigh. The Merry Men skip and jump, with little edge that outlaws would have. Not so with Fairbanks successor Errol Flynn, as charismatic and righteous as that Robin Hood was, there was a real sense of anger at the problems being inflicted on the poor. This earlier (although not the first) Robin Hood movie is much lighter fare. The story is only threadbare. And only a few scenes from the ballads appear. Instead, half the film is taken up with jousting matches and other things which seem out of place in a Robin Hood film. Like modern-day blockbusters, it's big on spectacle and low on plot and character. It's a classic, but it doesn't grab me the way Flynn's Robin Hood does. It lacks the heart and soul. Now, onto the DVD quality. The image is surprisingly good for an 80-year old film. And they've gone with the colour-tinting process. Forest scenes, for example, are tinted green. That adds a warmth to the film lacking in its characters. Unfortunately, the sound isn't as good. The score is electronic and very noticeably so. And it sounds more like an electronic kazoo than a real piano or organ as it should be. That is very distracting. Which is unfortunate, because the score itself is adapted from the 1890s Robin Hood stage musical composed by Reginald de Koven (this production introduced the wedding song "O Promise Me"). It would have been nice to hear a less synthetic version of de Koven's score. So, riddle me this -- why is this film on DVD and not the 1938 Adventures of Robin Hood starring Errol Flynn? (And while its nice to see Fairbanks turn as Robin Hood and Zorro on DVD, I'd really like to own the Flynn and Tyrone Powers versions of those films.)"
How to crumble a classic....
Leealike | London | 08/30/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
""Douglas Fairbanks' Robin Hood" is one of the greatest adventure films the cinema has ever produced.
It no longer exists in a pristine version, so I'm afraid this is the best way to watch it, and although any company that produces DVDs of silent films should be applauded this disc should be approached with some caution.
The reason is the score. I hate synth scores on silent films. Firstly it is totally out of place to stick an electronic soundtrack on an old film - but here it really is unacceptable. The recording of the score is so irritating and twee it cheapens the film. Robin Hood screams out for a full orchestral score, not a tinny electronic beat that sounds like a cheap Casio keyboard.
Fair enough, points can be made for cost etc. but the simple fact remains - would you pay good money to see Gone With the Wind or Titanic with a cheesy synth score? Although the film itself would remain the same, so much of the power and passion would be destroyed when the score is replaced. Would Jaws or even Psycho have anything near the same effect if you stuck the Backstreet Boys over the shower scene?
The same goes for silent films, perhaps more so. To watch the Brownlow and Gill restoration of Fairbanks' Thief of Bagdad is to watch a beautiful classic of the silent screen with a perfect score conducted by Carl Davis. To watch the same film with a syth or organ score is to see half the film. It looks exactly the same - but loses so much sweep and power.
Get the DVD, switch the sound off and stick on a suitable CD. The film is improved hugely. (By the way, using public domain classical recordings is the easiest and cheapest way to get a decent score - if any DVD producers are reading this...)"
Lavish Silent Film Version Of The Robin Hood Story Starring
Simon Davis | 01/08/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"While the magnificent 1938 "The Adventures of Robin Hood", starring the perfectly cast Errol Flynn in his signature role is by far my favourite version of this famous story this incredibly lavish 1922 version starring Douglas Fairbanks comes a respectable second second. With its extravagant photography, costumes and amazingly lavish sets which were the biggest built in Hollywood up until that time this film really illustrates perfectly the type of film vehicle that Douglas Fairbanks became renowned the world over for. While he does seem much older looking in the role of Robin Hodd than Errol Flynn did in the later version, Fairbanks has all the expected characteristics of the famed bandit down to perfection, and is as gallant, adventurous and full of energy as one would expect from the actor at his peak. Full of daring do, sword fits, devious villians, and with our hero jumping onto horses and climbing up Castle battlements to protect the lovely maid Marion, this version of Robin Hood along with his superb "The Thief of Bagdad", really are the "A Typical", performances by Douglas Fairbanks in swashbuckling roles that became his trademark during the silent era."
Scott Joplin alive during reign of Richard the Lionheart?
William E. Bissonnette | Concord NC, ct United States | 07/20/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I don't ever write reviews but I had to comment on this. First this is a wonderful film. Secondly the print is quite good as well - although having none of the original tints. So I would give the film itself an overall ****. But this has to be the most inappropriate soundtrack ever issued. It consists of a lone pianist playing a group of a half dozen or so well-known Scott Joplin ragtime numbers repeated over and over for two full hours. It's enough to drive you nuts! At the great climax when Robin's merry band storms the castle, we are treated to a slow version of Joplin's "The Entertainer." You remember: the theme of "The Sting!" Who knew Scott Joplin lived during the reign of William the Lionheart and Robin of Locksely? Buy it for the film but then either view it without sound or add your own track of Fats Domino or the Stones or even, maybe, the Village People. Anything would be better than the musical disaster that accompanies this print. Incidently this is a DVDR not a commercially produced DVD but that doesn't adversely affect the print quality."
Robin Hood a hoot!
Phil Muse | Stone Mountain, GA | 06/19/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Slow moving though it may be in the first half, Douglas Fairbanks' Robin Hood really picks up in the second, when our hero returns to England and becomes the outlaw hero of song and legend. Once he affects his transformation, Fairbanks goes hopping, skipping and leaping through the rest of the picture - I don't think he ever walks in the usual way - and his Merry Men follow suit! This movie hasn't lost any of its pure fun and excitement in the 85 + years since it premiered in 1922. As with many home video releases of silent pictures, I do wish the releasing company had taken care to provide a more appropriate music track. (When a big-budget silent movie such as this was originally released, the distributors often sent specially composed sheet music along with the rental. That's how important it was.) The picture quality is amazing after all these years. This Reel Enterprises edition compares very favorably with the Kino edition. It seems to have been based on the identical print."