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The Adventures of Robin Hood: Special Edition

What Singin' in the Rain is to musicals, The Adventures of Robin Hood is to swashbuckler-romances — a big, sunny, hugely enjoyable dazzler that's impeccably cast, directed, and produced. This pitch-perfect action picture from 1938 exults in all good things we associate with Golden Age Hollywood. Here in lavish portions are Errol Flynn's dashing bigger-than-lifeness, Olivia de Havilland playing Maid Marian as a "bold Norman beauty" without being drippy about it, Erich Wolfgang Korngold's rousing orchestral score, a thousand resplendent costumes, lots of comic byplay, and swordfight scenes that set the standard for all subsequent swordfight scenes. Making sure we miss none of it, the movie bursts from the screen with the kind of glossy, incandescent Technicolor that sears images directly into your visual cortex. Flynn is, of course, Sir Robin of Locksley, the charismatic Saxon knight who forsakes his comfortable manor to hide in the forest and lead a populist uprising. As adept with his only-in-the-movies dialogue as Robin is with a gray goose shaft, Flynn exudes so much charm and confidence that he seems to klieg-light the film all by himself. When he barges into the great hall where the villains are assembled, with a dead stag draped across his shoulders, it's one of the great entrances in movie history. Claude Rains and Basil Rathbone are the bad guys.

Warner's Special Edition finally brings the movie to disc, and it does so in 65th anniversary style with an all-new (and all-gorgeous) restoration. A castle full of extras includes a new making-of documentary, a second documentary on the Technicolor process, an Errol Flynn Trailer Gallery, outtakes, a blooper reel, Warner Night at the Movies, 1938, and two classic Robin-centric Looney Tunes cartoons. This splendid package is guaranteed to vanquish evil and get the girl.

—Mark Bourne

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