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I am a collector of heroes, have been all my life. Some are real, some are legendary. They are all molded in the image of my number one favorite, the legendary Robin Hood.
The great Locksley came into my life when I was a little girl. My father had a set of precious books all illustrated by Grandpa Wyeth who could portray a hero better than any artist who ever lived. Included in the books were Treasure Island, Kidnapped and Robin Hood.
As far as I was concerned the story was a grabber. The idea of stealing from the rich to give to the poor and oppressed really appealed to me. Imagine my chagrin when I grew up and realized that in real life it was the rich who stole from the poor and kept it and that Robin Hood was probably a myth.
So what? I still loved him dearly and cherished his lifestyle. I used to dream about being Maid Marian, dressing in Lincoln Green and living with Robin and his merry men. I never had a thought about being Mrs. Robin Hood, just one of the happy hedge robbers. That came later.
When I was a kid there were no movie Robins. Douglas Fairbanks was long before my time. I had seen pictures of him playing the part but never could accept him in the part. For one thing, he was too fat and he had a silly grin, not the elegantly sardonic smile Robin would have had when giving it to the Sheriff of Nottingham.
Thank goodness for the book which I read so often the ink on the page almost
dissolved. I was barely in my teens when Robin Hood came into my life with the explosive force of a mega bomb, in the person of Errol Flynn, the man born to play the part.
There he stood, on the branch of one of the gigantic oak trees of Chico, California, tall and slim, perfect legs in tights, beautiful face, great smile and oh, the voice when he said, “Welcome to Sherwood, Milady.”
I didn’t faint but did grasp my mother’s arm so tightly she was bruised. It was definitely a turning point in my life. No longer were there dreams of being Robin’s buddy, my new role was Mrs. Robin Hood. I loved Olivia de Havilland as Maid Marian and oddly enough never felt jealous of her. She too, was meant to play the part. I remember I saw the movie four times that week. It was held in a small movie theater which changed the program every weekend. By the time it left, I had coerced every older member of the family to take me to see it again.
It wasn’t until the advent of the VCR that I was able to own a copy of the film
Prior to that it would be shown once in a while on TV and I never missed it. I now have DVD copies of Flynn’s films, including Robin Hood. My younger brother was such a fan he set up in his house so he could show 35 mm copies of his films.
There have been subsequent Robin Hood movies. The only one I really like is the flic where Robin and Marian are much older and briefly reunited before his
death. Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn were excellent in the parts. The other film tried to put the legend into a more probable frame and failed.
There are some legends you can’t mess with too much. A rare exception is the
film King Arthur which successfully removed all the Merlin magic and gave the story a more realistic time frame such as portraying Arthur’s father as a Roman official. It worked well.
Right now, I’m back with Robin Hood in Sherwood Forest via a BBC America
series. There are some dramatic changes but they’re pretty good. The time period is right but the character of Robin is somewhat different He’s still robbing from the rich and giving to the poor but he’s less of an elegant Locksley and more the rebellious son of the family. His band is much smaller and rougher, more like medieval boys in the hood.
The villains are still the loathsome beasts they were. I am enjoying this version. It’s nice to know that we’re not so jaded that Robin Hood can’t get a piece of the TV market.
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