Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Brief Thoughts - PRINCE OF THIEVES (1948)

Although I've never enjoyed a Robin Hood film as much as the Errol Flynn starring THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (1938) I still seek out other cinematic tales of the legendary archer. I only recently discovered this low budget effort thanks to Columbia's series of Robin Hood DVD releases from a few years ago. I'm thrilled to have seen it but it isn't much to talk about. 

PRINCE OF THIEVES makes the bold claim that it is based on a novel by Alexandre Dumas and that seems to be kind of true, but I doubt much of the book made it to the screen. The movie has an odd look as it was shot in Cinecolor which ran two strips of film through the camera at the same time to capture different shades which were then blended in the development process. It gives the picture a strange, almost otherworldly look with flames rendered as bright crimson or orange and blues standing out vibrantly. I have to admit that the strange look of the image kept me interested for just the chance to see what things would look like. 

The film's story is a variation on the standard tale with a noble loyal to KIng Richard returning to England from the crusades to marry his betrothed. Robin Hood and his band intercept the nobel inform him that his lady is being married off to a villain loyal to Prince John and join him in kidnapping her from her terrible fate. Along the way Robin meets and romances Marian, Friar Tuck joins the Merry Men and much adventure is had by all. It's all pretty tame with little serious violence inflicted and most of the swordplay a little too sloppy to feel dangerous. The film is pretty silly overall but fun in a 'kiddie matinee' way that makes it seem like just the thing for an opening slot for a rainy Saturday afternoon. Throw in a serial chapter, a cartoon and a bigger film as a co-feature and you'd have yourself a fun time. Sure, Jon Hall as Robin is far too American, the characters are barely sketched costumes and the bad guys are pretty dumb but...... the pace is quick, the sights interesting and at 71 minutes it's over before you know it. This is no classic but it's not the worst Robin Hood film I've seen. 

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