Robin and Marian
Everyone knows the story of Robin Hood, the swashbuckling Sherwood Forest folk hero who stole from the rich and gave to the poor: After trouncing the evil Sheriff of Nottingham and helping noble King Richard the Lionhearted reclaim his throne from his conniving brother, Prince John, the merry outlaw and his rag-tag band of followers (including loyal Little John and the lovely Maid Marian) lived happily ever after, right? Not so fast. According to screenwriter James Goldman (brother of the legendary William) and director Richard Lester, Rob and his crew had a very different, much-less-idyllic fate. Robin and Marian checks in on the Sherwood set about 20 years down the line, revealing that a balding, graying Robin (Sean Connery) has been off fighting for a no-longer-so-noble King Richard (Richard Harris) in the Crusades, while Marian (Audrey Hepburn), distraught without her lover, has checked into an abbey and embraced a life of humble grace. But things sort of pick up where they left off when Robin returns to England just in time to save Marian from that pesky Sheriff of Nottingham (Robert Shaw), who's been instructed by the newly crowned King John (a young Ian Holm) to jail all of the country's high-ranking clergy. Pretty soon Rob's setting up camp in Sherwood again, attended by all of the usual suspects: Little John (Nicol Williamson), Friar Tuck (Ronnie Barker), Will Scarlett (Denholm Elliot, who also played Connery's buddy in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade), and a host of others who hope the Hood's glory days have returned. But despite the battles and feats of derring-do that follow, Robin and Marian never really develops the sense of urgency that cinematic swashbucklers require. Lester's pacing is very leisurely, especially viewed from a 21st-century perspective; this is not a movie for the MTV crowd. And while the two leads give strong performances Hepburn, in particular, makes Marian's conflicting feelings about Robin very believable thanks to the hit-and-miss script, the talented actors in the supporting cast never really get a chance to come into their own. Ultimately, just when it feels like the movie is finally gaining a little momentum, it's over, and another chapter in the Robin Hood legend comes to a downbeat close. Columbia TriStar's DVD release of Robin and Marian offers a beautifully remastered anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) that shows off cinematographer David Watkin's stark, lovely shots of the Holy Land and the English countryside. The monaural Dolby Digital audio also has been cleaned up, and an array of subtitles are available. Trailers, keep-case.