Filmsite Movie Review 100 Greatest Films
The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
Pages: (1) (2) (3)
The Story (continued)

That night, Robin climbs up the ivy on the steep Nottingham castle wall to the chamber window of his beautiful lady love, to express his gratitude for her daring part in his rescue. When he reaches the top of the wall, he overhears Marian's thoughts on the subject of love as she speaks to her maid Bess. He is startled to hear her confess that she is in love with him:

Lady Marian: He is different from anyone I've ever known. He's, well he's brave and he's reckless, and yet he's...gentle and kind. He's not brutal like...tell me, when you are in love, is it, well, is it hard to think of anybody but, but one person?
Bess: Yes, indeed my lady, and sometimes it's a bit of trouble sleeping.
Lady Marian: I know, but it's a nice kind of not sleeping.
Bess: And it affects your appetite too. Not that I've noticed it's done that to you, except when he was in the dungeon waiting to be hanged.
Lady Marian: And does it make you want to be with him all the time?
Bess: Yes, and when he's with you, your legs are as weak as water. Tell me, my lady. When he looks at you, do you feel a kind of prickly feeling like goosy pimples running all up and down your spine?...Then there's not a doubt of it.
Lady Marian: Doubt of what?
Robin: That you're in love.

She is surprised when he enters through the chamber window, high in the castle wall. He thanks her for her assistance in his rescue. She is embarrassed to realize that he has overheard her confession of love. Denying her feelings of love, she excuses her thoughts as a "game." In an amorous conversation exhibiting one-upmanship, the two banter and jest with each other. They share a tender, innocent, storybook romantic scene on the open balcony. They are equally in love with each other:

Robin: ...I couldn't help overhearing about that 'prickly feeling.' I'm very glad I did come.
Lady Marian: That, that was a game. Now you've got to go at once.
Robin: Game, eh? Well, couldn't I join in? Of course, I probably wouldn't be as good at it as, uh, (he playfully pinches Bess' chin) this pretty young girl. I could do my best.
Lady Marian: Bess, will you leave us? Please.
Robin: Now let's see, where does this game begin? Oh, I know. It's simple. We'll start where you are in love with me. You are, aren't you? Because I am with you. Terribly. That's why I came. I had to see you.
Lady Marian: You must go at once and I don't love you.
Robin: Oh! You sure?
Lady Marian: Yes.
Robin: Very well then, I'll go. (Robin retreats to the window to descend the ivy.) This is rather unfriendly of you, exposing me to my enemies like this....Goodbye my lady.
Lady Marian: Robin!
Robin: Yes?
Lady Marian: Please.
Robin: Then you do love me, don't you? Don't you?
Lady Marian: You know I do.
Robin: Well, that's different. (Robin re-enters the window and they share an embrace and kiss.)
Lady Marian: You know you're very impudent.
Robin: Me?
Lady Marian: You are. And when my real guardian King Richard finds out about your being in love with me...
Robin: I know, he'll make me court jester.
Lady Marian: He won't. He'll stick your funny head on London's Gate.
Robin: A very fine decoration it will be, my bold Norman beauty.
Lady Marian: I'm not bold.
Robin: But you're a Norman...And you are a beauty. You are the most beautiful...
Lady Marian: And you're leaving here at once. Please darling! Every minute you're here, you're in danger.
Robin: I know...

After expressing her concern about his safety, he asks the captivatingly-beautiful heroine to join him in Sherwood:

Robin: ...Marian, will you come with me?
Lady Marian: To Sherwood? (He nods)
Robin: I've nothing to offer you but a life of hardship and danger. But we'd be together.
Lady Marian: ..a problem dear.
Robin: I know. It's asking a lot. But who knows how long it will be before Richard returns. Friar Tuck would marry us. Will you?
Lady Marian: Because I love you Robin, I'd come. Even the danger would mean nothing if you were with me.
Robin: Then you will.
Lady Marian: No...

Rather than join him, Marian decides to stay in Nottingham to provide intelligence on John's activities and watch for treachery in the castle: "I could help much more by watching for treachery here and leaving you free to protect Richard's people until he returns. Now do you see why you have to go back to your men alone?" After gallantly courting her and encouraged by her love, Robin agrees to go back to his men without her. She bids him goodbye: "Go now quickly, dearest." They tenderly kiss a few times until Robin must descend on the ivy down the castle wall.

Strangers at Kent Road Tavern disguised in clerical robes turn out to be King Richard and his men who have secretly returned to England from the Crusades. They are detected by the treacherous Bishop of the Black Canons (Montagu Love) who enters the tavern during their stay. Prince John is notified of the King's presence and commissions a sole assassin, Dicken Malbete (Harry Cording) to murder Richard.

Overhearing the plot against her beloved, Lady Marian (who is loyally committed to saving Robin) writes a letter to tell him to find and warn Richard. Realizing that his amorous affections for Marian have been outdone by Robin and that she is in league with the outlaw, the nasty Sir Guy sees through Marian's denials and protestations of innocence regarding her association and feelings for Robin:

You're very charming, Lady Marian, but not exactly clever.

He believes she has been aiding Robin and his men with information. He intercepts her letter and has her arrested for her part in helping the outlaw Robin and the King. After being brought before Prince John, Marian defends her beliefs:

Sir Guy: Not only has she consorted with this Saxon rebel, found guilty of outlawry, theft, murder, abduction, and high treason, but she has betrayed her own Norman people. Are you not ashamed my Lady Marian?
Lady Marian: Yes, I am, bitterly, but it's the shame that I'm a Norman, after seeing the things my fellow countrymen have done to England. At first, I wouldn't believe. Because I was a Norman, I wouldn't let myself believe that the horrors you inflicted on the Saxons were just and right. I know now why you tried so hard to kill this outlaw whom you despise. It's because he was the one man in England who protected the helpless against a lot of beasts who were drunk on human blood. And now you intend to murder your own brother.
Prince John: You'll be sorry you interfered.
Lady Marian: Sorry? I'd do it again if you killed me for it.
Prince John: A prophetic speech, my lady, for that is exactly what is going to happen to you.
Lady Marian: You wouldn't dare.

Her punishment will be death for high treason, but she reminds Prince John that only a king can pass a death sentence on a royal ward: "I'm the royal ward of King Richard and no one but the King himself has the right to condemn me to death." With a wry smile, John promises to condemn her to execution following his crowning in a few days: "You are quite right, my dear. And it shall be a King. I will order your execution for high treason exactly forty-eight hours from now. Take her away." Lady Marian is sent to the dungeon in the castle to await execution. Fortunately, Bess (who wrote the letter for Lady Marian) sends word to Much, who is dispatched to intercept the King's assassin.

Meanwhile, Robin and his men waylay the band of strangers dressed in black monks outfits that are traveling through Sherwood. Identifying themselves as friends of Richard, they are invited to one of his forest banquets. On their way to the tables, Robin explains how the King forsook his duties at home:

His task was here at home defending his own people instead of deserting them to fight in foreign lands...I'll condemn anything that leaves the task of holding England for Richard to outlaws like me.

Their encounter is interrupted when a wounded Much is carried in by Will Scarlet with word of the assassination plot on the King. Much has killed the assassin, but has suffered wounds. Robin shows his loyalty to the King and orders his men:

Richard must be found. He must be found and brought here to safety...Don't rest, any of you, day or night, until he's found.

Suddenly, one of the monks removes his cowl, revealing that he is King Richard who has returned incognito to England with his men ("You don't need to search for Richard, Robin. He's in good hands, the best in England"). Robin responds: "Sire!" and they kneel in awe before their acknowledged and long-missing sovereign. They are told to rise.

They vow to disrupt the next day's coronation ceremonies, where the Bishop of the Black Canons is to proclaim Prince John the new King. They also vow to act quickly to save Lady Marian who has risked her life to warn them, but was condemned to the block for treason. Knowing that it would be useless to storm the castle, Robin and his men call on the Bishop that evening at his abbey to persuade him to suggest a way to rescue Marian and stop the coronation.

The next day, (without showing their meeting at the abbey), they have coerced the Bishop to lead them, all disguised in black as monks, to the coronation day ceremonies within Nottingham Castle. Robin's entire band (including Richard and his men) sneak into the castle as part of the ceremony. At the beginning of the ceremony, the Bishop asks Prince John: "By what authority do you, John Lackland, Prince of England, claim to be crowned this day, sovereign of the realm, and as defender of the Holy Sepulchre to receive the blessing of the church?" John claims: "By right of blood succession. According to the law of the realm." The Bishop further asks: "Is it of your own free will that you thus depose your brother - Richard the Lion-Heart of England?" Prince John blurts out: "Richard no longer exists! From this moment forward, I, John, am King of England!" The plan of the Prince to announce King Richard's death and have himself crowned the new King, is then cut short, as Richard reveals himself under his black robe: "Aren't you a little premature, brother?" Someone off-screen cries: "Richard, the Lion-Heart!" John rises: "He's lying. He's an imposter." The off-screen voice adds: "It is the King! The King lives!" Robin reveals himself and summons his men to engage in battle.

Sir Guy urges his men to seize the outlaws ("It's a trick of the outlaws. Kill him. Seize him!") He engages Robin in one of the best swashbuckling broadsword fights ever put on the screen. At the beginning of their climactic, prolonged, exciting, vicious duel, they taunt each other with a superb dialogue exchange:

Robin: Did I upset your plans?
Sir Guy: You've come to Nottingham once too often.
Robin: When this is over my friend, there'll be no need for me to come again.

The theatrical scene alternates between closeups of the two opponents and long shots of their shadows. They struggle throughout the castle, winding down the curving castle's stone staircase to the dungeons, casting gigantic shadows on stone walls and enormous columns and pillars, and overturning a giant candelabra that crashes to the floor. Sir Guy is fought to the death. Then, Robin forces the dungeon guard to release Lady Marian into his arms.

In the final scene, after the overthrow of the Normans and the reinstatement of the King, Prince John and the other traitors are banished for life. The King restores justice and brings peace to England once again:

And I further banish from my realm all injustices and oppressions which have burdened my people. And I pray that under my rule, Normans and Saxons alike will share the rights of Englishmen.

The King has some parting words with Robin, offering the outlaw anything he wishes:

King Richard: And what about you Robin?
Robin: My sword is yours, Sire, now and always.
King Richard: Is there nothing England's King can grant the outlaw who showed him his duty to his country?
Robin: Yes, your majesty. A pardon for the men of Sherwood.
King Richard: Granted with all my heart. (Cheers.) But is there nothing for yourself?
Robin (looking at Marian): There's but one thing else, Sire.
The King (looking at Marian and asking): And do you too wish...?
Lady Marian: (beaming) More than anything in the world, Sire.

As a reward for his bravery, Robin is commanded to accept the King's order to have his title and his estates restored. Robin is also restored to knighthood and renamed Baron of Locksley, after which he receives the King's consent to marry Lady Marian:

King: Kneel Robin Hood. (Robin kneels.) Arise Baron of Locksley, Earl of Sherwood and Nottingham, and Lord of all the lands and manors appertaining thereto. (Robin rises.) My first command to you, my Lord Earl, is to take in marriage the hand of the Lady Marian. (His men cheer and gather around.) What say you to that, Baron of Locksley?
Robin (after ducking out of the circle and running to the door with Marian, he grins and responds): May I obey all your commands with equal pleasure, Sire!

With a boyish grin, Robin departs with Marian out the massive doors of the Great Hall of Nottingham Castle. The great doors close behind them.

Also Worth Considering:
The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)



Previous Page