THE CHARACTER of ROBIN HOOD as far as film production is concerned, seems to have revived and arrived as frequently as the BLOKE in the Cloak, Count Dracula. Since 1938, when actor Errol Flynn donned the tights and bow in 'The Adventures of Robin Hood', which hit loads of lolly for the rich and entertainment for the thrill hungry public, Robin and his Merry Men have nearly always been a winner. There have been many remakes and story direction retakes that not only revived the tale, but such was the power of the story of Mr Hood, you can spot it like a well aimed arrow, providing themes, influences in everything from extended ideas for spin offs, Mel Brooks epics and even down to a Tom and Jerry or Bugs Bunny cartoon! The world of Robin Hood is one of Olde Worlde very rich, but usless kings, lords and ladies, fat monks and pious priest, where every town has men with swords and maidens who are lit and presented in soft focus, having been crafted by a Westmore brother, who struggle with the caddish-fiend advances of tash tweaking, baddie barons. But I LOVE it!
HAMMER FILMS 'SWORD OF SHERWOOD FOREST' couldn't be and isn't the DISNEY or Errol version. This Hammer film budget, but BUT it is enormously entertaining. Hammer set design guru, Bernard Robinson was and had been tied up with The Mummy, The Brides of Dracula and the Two Faces of Doctor Jekyll, so John Stoll, did the duties. The reason WHY SWORD does so well is because of its excellent cas. which headlines with Peter Cushing as the Sheriff of Nottingham.. in THREE splendid costume changes. Knowing PC he probably pooted along to Berman's and chose them, as he would say 'Mu-self!'... and Richard Greene as the lead, and for many THE Robin! Others include Hammer's Richard Pascoe, almost 'out stepping' Cushing as a beauty of a bounder and baddie! Oliver Reed gets the better of Cushing's Sheriff, Niall McGinnis makes a very good Friar Tuck and Richard Greene IS Little John! For a tale, almost exclusively set in woodlands and forest, that also has the FOREST word in its title, one wonders if actress Sarah BRANCH was cast and chosen, only for the potentially endless publicity and press office premier inches that could be pushed and published using her surname as an endless pun? BRANCH is very good in the feature, but held a held a carear that only lasted just over four years!? Did Hammer and Chairman Sir James only spot the BRANCH potential as the main and valid reason to another money spinner and quickly slapped together another fim poster to collect the backers cash? Nope. Truth is, the business and Hollywood has been churning out Robin Hood films for actually MORE than a century. And Sword of Sherwood Forest, is certainly one of my personal favorites!
SWORD OF SHERWOOD FOREST is a film from an era, where movies where 'crafted' for the family. No gallons of gore or huge and cavernous miles deep cleavage, to fall into here! You would think, the attraction of such a film of such qualities, would be well passed. BUT just two weeks ago, PCAS offered up SEVEN copies of the Twilight Time remastered blu ray as sponsored prizes in a VERY well supported competition. This gives a fair indication, that Robin and his Merry Men are still very popular. And in THIS EXCELLENT transfer of the feature film, which is typical of the standard of quality we have come to expect from Twilight Time and Sony, the release looks very good indeed!
SWORD OF SHERWOOD FOREST was directed by Hammer film icon Terence Fisher, who was well prepared and knew exactly how best to present all the 'key Hood' moments, having also directed many of the television series episode, that also starred Richrad Greene as Robin. It looks delicious, having been shot in Technicolor and makes the most of the luscious green forests, fern, flora and fauna of the Irish location, having been shot in beautiful Enniskery, County Wicklow.
FOR ALL THOSE who mull of the technical pickings of screen size and frames, this 2.35:1 Megascope production is bang on, properly framed. The visuals in that frame, well meet the standards we have come to expect from Twilight Time, who in the past have brought us other Peter Cushing classics like Hammer films 'The Hound Of The Baskervilles' (1959) and Amicus films 'THE SKULL' (1965) this transfer is immaculate! The colours are VIBRANT and do justice to the magnificent scenery, that both Fisher and cinematographer Ken Hodges were working to capture on the big screen. Hodges also worked with Fisher on the TV series.
ABOVE: SEVEN LUCKY WINNERS of our TWILIGHT TIME PCAS competition last month!
THE SOUNDTRACK on the disc comes as a DTS HD-MA mono track, which presents dialogue clearly, with no drop out, hiss or bassey muffle. Even though in mono, the music composed by Alun Hoddinott, as in ALL Hood films and particulary the UK tv series, sounds terific. is as good as it could be, with clear dialogue throughout, supporting the clanking and thrashing of duels and sword fights very well. All of this drama, sometimes takes a break and presents Alan-a-Dale played by Denis Lotis singing and yodeling, medieval melodies with harp, flute and his mandolin! Charming! English SDH subtitles are available.
IN THE PAST, Twilight Time extras have included, documentaries, galleries, trailers and posters. This release offers a very nice isolated music and effects track. Which personally, would always get my vote, over endless talking heads of types who weren't even breathing when the film was released, let alone a twinkle in some daddy's eye! Also included is the theatrical for the film and the very nice thought of a short but appreciative glossy brochure / booklet on the film.
FOLLOWERS who are interested in purchasing it can skip along to the Twilight Time website or the Screen Archives website to order their copy. A GREAT watch for the family at Christmas.