This fall, Robin Hood returns to the big screen in a new take on the classic tale of the heroic thief and his band of merry men. ROBIN HOOD stars Taron Egerton as the outlaw who opposes the tyranny of the Sheriff of Nottingham, and Jamie Foxx as his mentor and best friend, Little John.
Egerton is the latest in a long line of actors to take on the classic role of Robin Hood, whose story has been adapted for the big screen dozens of times over the past century – and then some! Here’s the epic cinematic history of our favorite outlaw.
Robin’s First Film Adventures
The character’s cinematic history dates all the way back to 1908. That’s when Percy Stow directed ROBIN HOOD AND HIS MERRY MEN, the very first film based on the English folktale. This was the first of seven silent films released between 1908 and 1922 featuring the skilled archer who robs from the rich and gives to the poor. The last and most well-known of these films, ROBIN HOOD, was released in 1922. It starred Douglas Fairbanks, and was also the first movie to have a Hollywood premiere.
Classic Hollywood heartthrob Errol Flynn portrayed the folk hero in 1938’s THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD. His outing co-starred Olivia de Havilland as love interest Lady Marian. The film featured Flynn’s most acclaimed performance and is considered by many to be the best adaptation of the story. In 1995, the United States Library of Congress declared THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD to be culturally and historically significant. It is preserved as part of the National Film Registry.
Evolutions And Experiments
Several more versions followed in the ’50s and ’60s, a few of which put new spins on the old classic. The British film MISS ROBIN HOOD, in 1952, starred Margaret Rutherford, best known in her later years for playing the Agatha Christie heroine Miss Marple in a series of films based on Christie’s detective mysteries. Then there was ROBIN AND THE 7 HOODS, a 1964 musical film set in the ’30s gangster era of Chicago. That starred the legendary Frank Sinatra as “Robbo.” In 1967, ROCKET ROBIN HOOD sent the hero and his “merry spacemen” to the year 3000 for a futuristic telling of the story — set in space, naturally.
One of the most famous movie versions of the classic tale arrived in 1973. In Disney’s animated ROBIN HOOD, all the characters were depicted as talking animals. The hero of Sherwood Forest is a charismatic fox; Little John is a bear; King Richard and Prince John are lions; the film is memorably presented by a singing rooster named Alan-a-Dale.
That animated family adventure wasn’t the only movie to give the classic story a twist in the ’70s. 1976’s ROBIN AND MARIAN starred Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn as the hero and his lady-love, now married and at the end of their lives. It was also Hepburn’s first movie role in eight years.
The ’90s Generation
The tale inspired many more movies over the next decade. It wasn’t until Kevin Costner took on the role, however, in 1991’s ROBIN HOOD: PRINCE OF THIEVES, that audiences got another memorable cinematic version of the hero. The film also offered Morgan Freeman his breakout role, as Azeem, a Moor who escaped imprisonment during the Crusades thanks to Robin Hood.
Just two years later, Mel Brooks, of SPACEBALLS fame, put his signature satirical spin on the story with ROBIN HOOD: MEN IN TIGHTS, a hilarious musical spoof starring Cary Elwes as Robin Hood, Patrick Stewart as King Richard, and Dave Chappelle (in his movie debut) as Little John.
An Outlaw For 2018
As we’ve shown, there’s a long cinematic tradition of Robin Hood in the movies. But there are only one or two memorable versions every decade. The last was Russell Crowe’s serious, semi-realistic take on the hero in the 2010 war drama ROBIN HOOD, directed by Ridley Scott. It’s been eight years since that film hit theaters. Though there have been a handful of Robin Hoods since, none have really stood out. That may change with this fall’s ROBIN HOOD, from PEAKY BLINDERS director Otto Bathurst.
With KINGSMAN breakout Taron Egerton as a charismatic Robin, the good-natured vigilante’s latest cinematic adventure has a huge advantage right from the start. The hero teams up with Jamie Foxx’s Little John and his group of outlaws to fight the evil Sheriff of Nottingham, played by Ben Mendelsohn from ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY. The action sequences and costumes mark the new movie as firmly part of 2018. At the heart of the film, however, is the classic tale that has been thrilling audiences for decades.
ROBIN HOOD opens on November 21.