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‘Robin Hood’ Predecessors Proliferate on the Shelves

TIMES STAFF WRITER

If “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” whets your appetite for more adventures of the bandit of Sherwood Forest, you might check your video store for other movies about this heroic character.

The following are available for rent or for sale at $20 or under:

“The Adventures of Robin Hood” (MGM/UA, 1938). Until the Costner movie, this one, starring Errol Flynn and Olivia De Havilland, was the most popular Robin Hood film, serving as a model for most of ‘40s and ‘50s versions.

“The Story of Robin Hood” (Disney, 1952). Some film scholars argue that this lavish production is the best of all the Robin Hood movies and that Richard Todd gives the definitive performance in the role--even better than Flynn’s.

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“Robin and the Seven Hoods” (Warner, 1964). The legend of Robin Hood, swathed in hipness and transplanted into gangland 1920s Chicago, featuring Frank Sinatra as Robin swingin’ with hoods played by Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. Most memorable for the Cahn-Van Heusen standard “My Kind of Town.”

“Robin and Marian” (RCA/Columbia, 1976). Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn play these legendary characters as fairly ordinary fortysomething folks in mid-life crisis, stripping away the glamour. Romantic, with a sad ending. Will be available starting July 17 at $19.98.

“Robin Hood: The Movie” (Goodtimes). For those who remember the 1950s TV series starring Richard Greene, this is a colorized feature compiled from episodes of the series. Because it’s from ‘50s TV, the production values aren’t terrific. Released last week at $14.95.

Next month these versions of Robin Hood will hit the home-video market:

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“Robin Hood” (FoxVideo, 1991). Recently shown on TV. Critics liked this one, starring Patrick Bergin (the villainous husband in “Sleeping With the Enemy”) and Uma Thurman, better than the flashier, more costly Costner version. Out on July 18 at $89.98.

“Maid Marian and Her Merry Men: How the Band Got Together” and “Maid Marian and Her Merry Men: The Miracle of St. Charlene.” Essentially irreverent, often hilarious feminist spoofs, they retell the legend from Marian’s point of view, with her as the true heroine and Robin as a bumbling wimp. Due July 25 on CBS/Fox at $14.98.

CBS/Fox is also re-releasing four feature-length Robin Hood movies--filmed in the mid ‘80s and geared to youngsters--on July 25 at $14.98. These are on the market now but are hard to find. Depicting Robin Hood in various adventures, two star Michael Praed (“Robin Hood and the Sorcerer” and “Robin Hood: The Swords of Wayland”) and two feature Jason Connery (“Robin Hood: Time of the Wolf” and “Robin Hood: Herne’s Son”).

Some movies are not yet on video but may show up on TV in the next few months. “The Bandit of Sherwood Forest” (1946), starring Cornel Wilde as the son of Robin Hood, is a routine swashbuckler marred by Wilde’s stiff performance. In “Rogues of Sherwood Forest,” John Derek--not much better than Wilde--also plays Robin’s son in a version boasting some excellent scenes. Some silent-film houses may be showing the 1922 “Robin Hood,” starring Douglas Fairbanks Sr.--one of the most enjoyable of the silents.

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For the kids, there are animated versions of the Robin Hood legend. The most famous is the Disney 1973 feature-length cartoon, with the characters as various animals. Originally released in 1984, but off the market for the last few years, it’s being re-released on July 12 at $24.99.

By far this is the best of the animated Robin Hoods, but if you can’t wait until next month, there are four other Robin cartoons (all in the $10-to-$12 range) available on video. Two are half-hour versions from Goodtimes and Prism and two are hourlong movies on Vestron and Children’s Video of America (after the Disney cartoon, this one is generally considered the best).


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