The Adventures Of Robin Hood
(Warner Bros., 1938)
If this was the only movie Warner had ever made, they would have rightfully earned a place in the pantheon of great movie studios.
Premiering 76 years ago today, in glorious Technicolor, with a stellar cast, a perfect screenplay, and a magnificent score by Erich Korngold, this movie released tomorrow would still pack theatres. It has a perfect hero in Errol Flynn, the best heroine he ever played opposite in Olivia DeHavilland, the most hiss-worthy villains in Claude Rains' Prince John and Basil Rathbone's Guy of Gisbourne, and the best-played band of merry men ever assembled in one cast, the archtype for all time; and pitted against each other in some of the best-staged screen melees ever filmed, with the woods of NorCal and Malibu standing in for Sherwood Forest.
One look at the earlier Captain Blood, and this is clearly nothing but an epic pirate movie, set on land, and in wall-to-wall spectacular color. It won three Oscars, for the timeless score, the art direction, and film editing, and was nominated for Best Picture, along with nine other movies, all ultimately losing to Frank Capra's You Can't Take It With You, which you can't even find on TCM at 3AM these days.
I think time has made it clear which movie deserved the honor.