Robin Hood, Robin Hood riding through the glen (again)…
Robin Hood abandoned Lady Marian to fight in the crusades, now he’s returned to Nottingham to reclaim her heart.
ROBIN AND MARIAN Trailer, Umbrella Entertainment and photos © Columbia Pictures
Thirteen years before this movie, Sean Connery’s James Bond fought a Russian adversary, Robert Shaw as Grant on a train in From Russia With Love (1963). In this film, they’re in combat again. This time with swords, with this acting pair reunited in Robin and Marian (1976).
The latter film’s cast is headed by Connery as the man, myth and legend that is Robin Hood, with Shaw as Hood’s greatest foe, the Sheriff of Nottingham. This is a review is about the latter movie. The plot is based on English myth, legend and on historical truths.
The film is a love story, comedy and drama rolled into one. This storyline focuses on Robin Hood’s return to Sherwood Forest to find his lady-love, Maid Marian. This is after he returns to Sherwood Forest after twenty years away fighting in the Crusades with King Richard the Lionheart.
This film is a unique look at Hood as a middle-aged man. Other recognisable names from this legendary story are seen as just as old (or older). The film also heralded a return in front of the camera for the lovely, beautiful Audrey Hepburn as Marian.
This film storyline starts in France. King Richard (Richard Harris) has ordered middle-aged Robin Hood (Connery) and Hood’s constant wingman (and future cock blocker) John (Nichol Williamson) to loot an undefended castle for a priceless gold statue. The pair discover the castle inhabited by a crazy old man with one eye and children. The pair accept the old man’s word that there is no statue.
As King Richard joins them with a small army, the pair refuse to attack the castle. The old man throws an arrow and injures King Richard (showing a pretty good aim as he gets him in the neck). Hood and John then are imprisoned for disobeying the King’s orders. Hood escapes execution from the King, with the King pardoning him before dying of blood poisoning from the arrow wound.
On returning to England, Hood and John (Nicol Williamson) find their old hunting ground in a state of disrepair. By chance, they come across more Merry Men, as Will Scarlett (Denholm Elliott) and Friar Tuck (Ronnie Barker) appear from the undergrowth.
Both these men have moved on after Hood left, and still work together robbing the rich. Will taking the horses, whilst Tuck takes the confessions. Hood nonchalantly (or is Connery’s humorous take on the script) asks about the fate of Maid Marian.
On seeing Marian (Hepburn), Hood learns to his surprise (and ours) that she’s the Abbess of the Kirkly Abbey. After more comic moments, it’s apparent Hood is still in love with her (cue soppy love theme). She’s not so sure about him, as he abandoned her.
However, the Sheriff of Nottingham (Robert Shaw) is due to arrest her for her religious beliefs. King John is at loggerheads with the Pope. and John is trying to oust all the religious heads out of England. The pair confront the Sheriff and his buddy. Hood is less than gallant way by knocking her out and throwing her on his horse. Robin takes Marian to Sherwood Forest.
The once loved up pair catch up and both have moved on in different ways. Marian’s not just become a nun, she has also been studying herbs and medicines. Hood confesses to being with other girls whilst away (but he defends himself badly, by saying they looked just like her) and also about his disillusionment with King Richard’s part in some horrific massacres. This leads to a passionate kiss, for probably one of the most romantic of on-screen couples.
The pair slowly reignited their romance, and later their passion in a cornfield. After returning to the convent, Hood and Marian find some nuns have been captured by the Sheriff. Robin vows to save them. It appears he’s back to his old ways, and this is much to Marian’s concern. She watches as Robin Hood and John ride off…
I’d last seen some of this movie gem with my dad many years ago. it was wonderful to watch the whole of this film. Connery is a charismatic, often comic and always charming Robin Hood. It was a joy to see him and others acting their then age in this film with the witty script acknowledging this fact.
Comic scenes included fabulous fun moments with Hood and John finding themselves not as fit as they used to be after scaling a wall. There are also more than a few actors commenting on their old age in throwaway lines. In comparison, there are more touchingly romantic and dramatic bits, such as when Marian discovers her previously fit lover’s body scarred from his battles and he finds out that she attempted suicide when he left.
Hepburn also had a multi-layered role, with her first scene with Connery one that made me sob. Seeing Robin and him recognise her, it’s a beautiful heartfelt moment. The looks given between this pair are of pure love.
It’s then you thank the casting director for casting this pair, with Hepburn taking the role to show what happened after Robin and Marian lived happily after. She thought it a “poetic idea” to find out the rest of this legend. This is swiftly followed by a comic moment this nun swearing on seeing her one time love then hastily adding a Hail Mary.
In all her scenes with Connery, their characters’ deep love and affection for each other is always strong and wonderfully portrayed. This at her most convincing is seen in Hepburn’s final romantic speech. This was in her final scene as Marian, where she delivers a wonderfully romantic. powerful and loving speech to Hood.
This speech tells of her love for this outlaw. Hepburn performed this movingly and this was beautifully and touchingly portrayed. Hepburn’s voice seemed to crack with her heartfelt emotions beautifully conveying her character’s strong loving feelings for Hood.
This and her other romantic scenes with Connery did get me stifling a sob. I’m still surprised this performance didn’t get an Oscar nod. Connery and Hepburn have a wonderful and engaging romantic chemistry, where you can believe in them as a couple. This is echoed by Roger Ebert, who also adds, HERE;
Connery and Hepburn seem to have arrived at a tacit understanding between themselves about their characters. They glow.
This closeness is also reflected in the strength of their previous romantic relationship seen as they reunited. In a scene where the pair share the experiences they went through after their separation, this couple showed their rapport and support for each other.
The pair shows a deep and empathetic understanding of their partner. With not just words in the script telling of these attributes, but these qualities were also seen in their eye contact, their voices and their body contact. It was wonderful to watch these characters find love again.
The supporting cast is also wonderful, with TV Tropes adding that Barker and Elliott both donned Scottish accents. Methinks this was done to support Connery and Williamson, who keep their Scottish accents throughout.
Ian Holm’s King John stays for slightly longer on-screen than Connery’s cameo role as this King in another Robin Hood film. This appearance is mentioned HERE (if you want a wee spoiler). Holm is long enough on-screen for his character also to seek vengeance on Robin. This is a complete contrast to the role of Connery’s King John in that other film.
Shaw is a wonderful Sheriff of Nottingham. In his scenes, he’s considerably less pantomime villain and screen stealing as the actor who played him again in that previously mentioned Robin Hood film. His scenes with Hood also showed a strong love-hate camaraderie between the characters. In their final fight, Hood helps the Sheriff up before fighting him in a bittersweet moment.
However if awards were given for a very small supporting role in this film, I’d give it to Richard Harris as Richard the Lionheart. His small role was performed to Shakespearean standards. This portrayal was performed as if made for a different and more dramatic film than this one.
His character is portrayed in an unfavourable light for the first time on screen. His villainous ways are spoken about in a moment between Hood and Marian where Hood was disillusioned by the King. He was also spoken about in a conversation with John during their imprisonment.
Also worth a mention is Williamson as John. His performance with Connery easily shows the bromance between their characters. This friendship was even commented on by Marian. She rightly had a bit of a niggle with her abandoned twenty years previously, whilst John was with him throughout this time. He did annoy me though on two occasions, where he interrupted a potential snog between Hood and Marian.
This film also has a wonderful musical score from John Barry. His compositions accompany the scenes with both swashbuckling and romantic themes. The romantic, love theme is a beautifully haunting piece accompanying the one time lovers. Barry was then remembered as also the composer whose Somewhere in Time (1980) soundtrack always has me sobbing.
The swashbuckling compositions were also appropriate for those scenes with sword fighting aplenty. The most prominent one is where Shaw’s Sheriff and Connery’s Hood fight to the death. This music climaxes in time with moments of suspense, it’s a worthy addition to this movie. Interestingly. both this and From Russia with Love were accompanied by a John Barry score. One actor was victorious in both his different roles. But my word is my bond for a no spoilers review.
Weeper Rating: 😦 😦😦😦😦 😦 😦😦/10
Handsqueeze Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 /10
Hulk Rating: /10
The Salute to Audrey Hepburn, 2019 No 22 and The TCM Summer Under the Stars Blogathon 2019 No 79
This post was added to Sister Celluloid‘s Salute to Audrey Hepburn Blogathon. It was also added to Journeys in Classic Film and Musings of a Classic Film Addict‘s The TCM Summer Under the Stars Blogathon for Audrey Hepburn Day. Other reviews with this cast include Sean Connery in Outland, Meteor, Oscar Supporting Nominated Actors Singing Up a Storm, Murder on the Orient Express and is tributed HERE. Audrey Hepburn in Always and My Fair Lady. Richard Harris stars in The Wild Geese and The Cassandra Crossing. Nichol Williamson stars in Venom. Denholm Elliott in A Room with a View, Quest for Love, Madame Sin and Voyage of the Damned. Kenneth Cranham starred in Oliver!, Hot Fuzz and Lovejoy. Ian Holm in Loch Ness and From Hell.