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Old 03-06-2004, 14:24   #1
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Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) - STUNNING

I got this yesterday from the on-line HMV sale (3 for £20) and felt I had to post a quick review in here.

This is an absolutely stunning DVD in all respects.

The film itself is a triumphant action adventure which has aged in terms of time but not spirit. The simple principles applied here of heroism and villainy make this a breath of fresh air in comparison to the obsessive revisionism shown in more recent tellings of the tale. The sensibilities may be old fashioned and simplistic but that helps make it such a fun film.

Errol Flynn's performance is a wonder to behold as he carves his way through scrape after scrape with a smile a quip and barely a scratch. Olivia de Havilland is beautiful to behold and Basil Rathbone is perfect in his hissable turn as Guy of Gisbourne. This is 100 minutes of pure delight that can be enjoyed by all ages.

The DVD picture is a Technicolor extravaganza - the digital restoration to the picture makes this seem as if it was made yesterday (actually it is better!!). This film is 66 years old and yet virtually no film artefacts or colour fading are to be found. Part of the reason for this is the 3 strip Technicolor process used which is not as prone to fading as the 1 strip Eastmancolor stock used from the late 50's onwards. The fabulous colours and visual clarity highlight the exceptional production design. Reds and greens are strong and beautifully rendered and there is absolutely no colour bleed. There were no obvious video artefacts that I could spot with my 24" set (perhaps a touch of edge enhancement?), resulting in a DVD which looks very close to film.

Sound is mono (Dolby Digital 1.0) and has been cleaned up to remove hiss, pops and crackles. The music (so important to the film) comes through cleanly with little distortion, as does the dialogue.

Extras are packed in across the 2 discs. I haven't had a chance to get through them all but here is a list (selection from the IMDB):
Audio commentary by film historian Rudy Behlmer
Warner Night at the Movies, 1938 introduced by Leonard Maltin including trailers, newsreel, musical short subject and cartoon "Katnip Kollege"
Errol Flynn trailer gallery
New documentary, Welcome to Sherwood (2003) (58 mins)
Outtakes and the studio's annual year-end blooper reel
"Robin Hood Through the Ages" - featurette
"A Journey to Sherwood Forest" travelog
Documentary Glorious Technicolor (1998) (60 mins)
Shorts: "Cavalcade of Archery" (1946) and "The Cruise of the Zaca" (1952)
Galleries: Historical art, costume design, concept drawings, cast/crew photos, & publicity
Cartoons: "Rabbit Hood" and "Robin Hood Daffy"

Disc 1 contains a natty feature which attempts to create the feeling of a 1938 presentation. It also highlights the fact that Disney still had exclusive control on 3 strip Technicolor for animation - The Merry Melody is in decidedly dodgy 2 strip - yuck (not the fault of the DVD presentation, btw).

Onto Disc 2 - The only features I have watched so far are the 'Glorious Technicolor' doc (cert 12 - for a bleeped expletive) and the studio's annual year-end blooper reel (cert PG).

The doc is superb and sufficiently detailed - the only problem is that the quality of the film clips sometimes lets the subject matter down. The bloopers from 1938 shows the major stars of the day (including Flynn, Bogart and others) cursing their way through the year. The parts with Basil Rathbone doing screen tests for various helmets had me laughing out loud - surreal and very funny - I didn't know Python was around in 1938!!!

In conclusion, some films are completely timeless - this may have aged in sensibility but not in terms of entertainment. The DVD is jam packed with entertaining and informative extras and I look forward to working through the rest over the next few days.

VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Cheers,

Chorlton

Last edited by Chorlton; 03-06-2004 at 16:15.
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Old 03-06-2004, 15:17   #2
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Excellent review. I think I may buy this on the strength of your comments.

Last edited by beobrand; 03-06-2004 at 15:26.
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Old 03-06-2004, 15:22   #3
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It's on TV (Channel 4?) this week I believe too.
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Old 03-06-2004, 15:23   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by Garry Cowell
It's on TV (Channel 4?) this week I believe too.
Watch - enjoy - buy the DVD!!!!!!!
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Old 03-06-2004, 23:17   #5
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Chorlton, that is a truly excellent review - a must-buy for me. Congratulations and thanks.
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Old 09-10-2006, 07:47   #6
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Review of the new HD version here:

As wonderful as the transfer is on the two-disc special edition, the HD DVD ratchets the quality up several more notches. Fine detail is excellent, most noticeably on the chainmail. Instead of the moiré and shimmer that appears on the standard DVD, the chainmail is completely rock-solid here. Color is eye-popping throughout, especially on the elaborate costuming of the Normans. Sir Guy's primary color tunics make a glorious contrast to Robin Hood's earth tones, while Lady Marian's sumptuous gowns are incredibly beautiful. The purple of the robes of the Bishop of Black Canons are almost overwhelming, as is the red of Will Scarlett's clothing.

A wide variety of textures come across beautifully as well, and shadow detail is exceptional. The shade-dappled forest scenes are crisply clear, and the details of the background stonework is plainly visible in the shadow play of the final swordfight. There is substantial grain, but it's well-rendered and filmlike. One can even see a little fringing from where the Ultra Resolution process wasn't able to quite line up the three Technicolor strips. It's incredible that a movie nearly 70 years old looks this good, but this should be proof positive that it's not just modern movies that can benefit from the HD DVD treatment.
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Old 09-10-2006, 08:15   #7
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HD releases like that would go far further in championing the new format, than say the likes of Van Helsing.
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Old 09-10-2006, 08:57   #8
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Wow.... Basil Rathbone in HD, I might be swayed yet...

Either way, cheers for bumping this thread, I never got around to buying the 2-discer.
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Old 09-10-2006, 09:15   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boink!
HD releases like that would go far further in championing the new format, than say the likes of Van Helsing.
Exactly... its stuff like this which would make me jump to HD rather than recent tripe
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Old 09-10-2006, 09:37   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by R-T-C
Wow.... Basil Rathbone in HD, I might be swayed yet...

Either way, cheers for bumping this thread, I never got around to buying the 2-discer.
You can have mine for £6, I'm going to buy that HD-DVD release!
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Old 09-10-2006, 19:13   #11
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Exactly...my first HD-DVD purchases when I get the XBox 360 drive will be The Thing and this. One of the most entertaining films I've ever seen and - non-DVD related - the reason why I so enjoyed the BBC's current Robin Hood. Daft it may be but it made me laugh out loud almost as much as the Flynn film with its sense of fun. Though I doubt it will ever better...

Lady Marian Fitzswalter: Why, you speak treason!
Robin Hood: Fluently!
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Old 09-10-2006, 19:19   #12
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Yeah the Errol Flynn version is OK but it's not a patch on the BBC's new version shown on Saturday. Wow those crazy special effects when the screen goes all grainy when an arrow is fired. The guys behind this masterwork of televistic brilliance deserve knighthoods IMO.
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Old 09-10-2006, 19:27   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by emccusker
Exactly...my first HD-DVD purchases when I get the XBox 360 drive will be The Thing and this.
Snap on that one
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Old 09-10-2006, 23:45   #14
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I've got the film on HD-DVD. The quality is marvellous. The HD transfers of the Warner Bros shorts are fantastic too...

I think that you're all in for a treat.... :-)

Last edited by zazzx; 16-10-2006 at 22:42.
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Old 15-10-2006, 17:04   #15
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What a fantastic film, would love to see it in HD. Especially that sword-fight.
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Old 15-10-2006, 17:57   #16
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We have seen this film many times, but have not yet got the DVD. I think I'll buy this as a gift to my wife. She adores the film to the extent that she argues that Errol Flynn looked more like Robin Hood than Robin himself did!
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Old 15-10-2006, 20:11   #17
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It's £5.99 from Play.com or £5.85 from DVD.co.uk. For a two disc set that's got to be a sure buy.
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Old 26-10-2006, 12:50   #18
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DVD Verdict:
http://www.dvdverdict.com/reviews/advrobinhoodhddvd.php
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Old 26-10-2006, 20:57   #19
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Loco I bought this a while ago

I had a voucher and I bought this and Cosner's Prince of Thieves, The films are both good But the 1938 version is so much better. The extras were fab and one of my top DVDs.

Of course it is one of those films that I throw away the remote when I tune it in.

And as I am an archer I see the archery in it as the con it was the distances shot were very small but even then there were no compound bows or laser scopes in those days a brilliant display of archery but please don't get fooled.

As for the "Robin Hood" of splitting an arrow in two, Mythbusters have said it was busted, But I have done it not once but Twice!

The only problem with that is you need to buy a new arrow.

But it still makes a good story.
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Old 27-10-2006, 09:08   #20
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I now have the HD-DVD, but have to wait for the XBOX 360 add on drive before I can watch it
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