Cornel Wilde dons a pair of tights and cries “History be damned!” in terrific Hollywood romp The Bandit of Sherwood Forest. He plays Robert, the dashing son of Robin Hood, firing a well-aimed arrow into William of Pembroke’s plot to abolish the Magna Carta and snatch the throne from boy king Henry III.
With Henry (Maurice Tauzin) imprisoned by Regent Pembroke (Henry Daniell), Pa Robin (Russell Hicks) returns to Sherwood Forest and musters the old gang, including Friar Tuck (Edgar Buchanan), Will Scarlett (John Abbott), Alan-a-Dale (Leslie Denison) and Little John (Ray Teale). They’re joined by the renegade Queen Mother (Jill Esmond) and her lady-in-waiting, Lady Catherine (Anita Louise), rescued from Pembroke’s soldiers by Hood Jr.
Father and son devise a bold plan to spring young Harry from the tower, but Robert and Lady Catherine are captured. Still, Pembroke’s sneering treachery is no match for Robert’s cheerful bravura and dazzling swordsmanship, and with the help of pater and his merry men, the evil scheme is quashed, Henry is restored to the throne and to top it all off, Robert and Catherine get hitched.
Historians may weep (over Louise’s 1940s coiffure if nothing else), but according to The Guardian , “The (Robin Hood) legend is so tough and its origins are so vague that inaccuracies do not irritate; they are accepted as in a pantomime.” Anyway, as the Evening Standard rightly mentioned, “Hollywood’s medieval England would have made Chaucer chuckle.”
USA / Columbia / 87 minutes / 1946 Technicolor
Writer: Wilfred H Pettit, Melvin Levy, from Paul A Castleton’s novel Son of Sherwood Forest / Music: Hugo Friedhofer / Producers: Leonard S Picker, Clifford Sanforth / Directors: George Sherman, Henry Levin
Cast: Cornel Wilde, Anita Louise, Jill Esmond, Edgar Buchanan, George Macready, John Abbott, Leslie Denison, Eva Moore, Russell Hicks, Henry Daniell, Maurice Tauzin, Miles Mander, Ray Teal, Ian Wolfe