Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sword of Sherwood Forest (1960)

Director: Terence Fisher

Starring: Richard Greene, Peter Cushing, Sarah Branch, Richard Pasco, Nigel Green, Niall MacGinnis, Jack Gwillim, Edwin Richfield, Oliver Reed, Desmond Llewelyn

More info: IMDb

Tagline: NEW and Greatest Adventures of Robin Hood... The World's Most Renowned Swordsman!

Plot: The sheriff of Nottingham plots to confiscate the estate of the Lord of Bortrey, who has died on Crusade. The Archbishop of Canterbury speaks against this plot, and the sheriff plans to eliminate him. Robin Hood pretends to undertake the assassination of the Archbishop for the plotters; Maid Marion, meeting him thinks him the leader of a gang of murderers, and leads him into a trap.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? Nah, but only because there are far too many movies out there to watch for the first time.

It's amazing how much better watching a good widescreen print can make your experience. I'm sure that if I saw a rotten pan & scan copy of this I would have been dying to get to the end. I only mention that because these things matter and seeing things like this only enhance the viewing. Such as the case with this Hammer produced actioner starring Richard Greene (who played TV's Robin Hood for four seasons from 1955-1960) and the great Peter Cushing as his nemesis, as the Sheriff of Nottingham. Cushing definitely stands out, but Greene? Meh. Maybe it's my bias as an Errol Flynn fan.

What I did enjoy is not just another retelling of the same old story. Marian's in it but not like you'd think. She's smitten with Robin practically from the get-go. Nigel Green is great as Little John. I could care less for the comic relief courtesy of Friar Tuck (MacGinnis) and the silly music that accompanied his antics with the donkey. Ugh. The story's pretty good and I like the intrigue and plot twist with the Sheriff (as well as his resolution - didn't see that coming).

How about that tagline, huh? Renowned swordsman? You'd never know it from this picture - especially coming from a guy who played Robin Hood for 143 episodes over the previous four years!!! Maybe it was just sub-par choreography but I found the swordplay lacking in any skill. Some of the shots looked downright clumsy the way the actors were slinging the things around. Just look for yourself.

See? That's one of many fights. It was neat seeing Desmond "Q from the James Bond films" Llewelyn in a small role as well as Oliver Reed. While Reed does ask for a drink, it's only water sad to say.

SWORD OF SHERWOOD FOREST isn't a bad way to kill 80 short minutes on a Sunday afternoon and I certainly recommend it but I doubt it'll be anything that you'll want to watch more than once. There's a crapload of Robin Hood movies out there that could be just as good if not better. But there are none that will equal the perfection that starred Errol Flynn in THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (1938). There will never be a better version told. Ever.

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