The Adventures of Robin Hood is a 1938 American Technicolor swashbuckler film, produced by Hal B. Wallis and Henry Blanke, directed by Michael Curtiz and William Keighley, that stars Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Basil Rathbone, and Claude Rains.
Written by Norman Reilly Raine and Seton I. Miller, the film concerns a Saxon knight who, in King Richard's absence in the Holy Land during the Crusades, fights back as the outlaw leader of a rebel guerrilla band against Prince John and the Norman lords oppressing the Saxon commoners.
In 1995, the film was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation by the National Film Registry. It is considered by some to be one of the greatest films ever made.
Alan Hale, Sr., who plays Little John, had played the same character in the 1922 version of the film and went on to play him again in Rogues of Sherwood Forest, released by Columbia in 1950.
Richard the Lionheart (Ian Hunter), the King of England, is taken captive in 1191 by Leopold V, Duke of Austria while returning to England. Richard’s treacherous brother Prince John (Claude Rains) usurps the throne and proceeds to oppress the Saxons, raising taxes to secure his own position.
Only the Saxon nobleman Sir Robin of Locksley (Errol Flynn) opposes him. Robin acquires a loyal follower when he saves Much the Miller's Son (Herbert Mundin) from being arrested for poaching by Sir Guy of Gisbourne (Basil Rathbone). At Gisbourne's castle, Robin boldly tells Prince John and his followers and a contemptuous Lady Marian Fitzwalter (Olivia DeHavilland) that he will do all in his power to restore Richard to the throne. Robin escapes, despite attempts by John's men to stop him.
Robin and friend Will Scarlet (Patric Knowles) take refuge in Sherwood Forest and recruit Little John (Alan Hale, Sr.), while other men join their growing band, including the rotund Friar Tuck (Eugene Pallette).
Known now as the outlaw Robin Hood, he binds his men by an oath: to fight for a free England until the return of Richard, to rob the rich and give to the poor, and treat all women with courtesy, "rich or poor, Norman or Saxon".
Robin and his men capture a large party of Normans transporting tax proceeds. Among Robin's "guests" are Sir Gisbourne, the cowardly Sheriff of Nottingham (Melville Cooper) and the Lady Marian. At first disdainful of Robin, Marian comes to accept his good intentions and begins to see the reality of Norman brutality. Robin allows the humiliated Gisbourne and the Sheriff to leave Sherwood, telling them that they have Marian's presence to thank for their spared lives.
The Sheriff comes up with a cunning scheme to capture Robin by announcing an archery tournament, sure that Robin will be unable to resist the challenge. All goes as planned: Robin wins, is taken prisoner, and is sentenced to hang.
Marian helps Robin's men rescue Robin, and he later scales a castle wall to thank her. Both pledge their love for each other, but Marian declines to leave, believing she can help the rebellion as a spy by staying where she is.
King Richard and several trusted knights have returned, disguised as pilgrims. At an roadside inn, the Bishop of the Black Canons (Montagu Love) discovers their presence and alerts Prince John and Gisbourne. Dickon Malbete (Harry Cording), a degraded former knight, is given the task to dispose of Richard in return for the restoration of his rank and Robin's manor and estate.
Marian overhears their plot and writes a note to Robin, but Gisbourne finds it and has her arrested. Marian's nurse, Bess (Una O'Connor), romantically involved with Much, sends him to warn Robin. On his way, Much encounters and kills Dickon.
King Richard and his men disguise themselves as wealthy monks and journey through Sherwood Forest and are soon stopped by Robin. Richard assures him that he is traveling on King Richard's business. Will finds the injured Much, who tells Robin of Marian's peril and that Richard is now in England. Robin orders a thorough search to find Richard and bring him to Robin for safety. Now certain of Robin's loyalty, Richard reveals himself.
Robin devises a plan to sneak his men into Nottingham castle. He coerces the Bishop of the Black Canons to include his men, disguised as monks, in his entourage. During John's coronation in the great hall, a huge melee breaks out. Robin and Gisbourne engage in prolonged combat, ending with Gisbourne's death. Robin releases Marian from her prison cell, and Prince John's men, now defeated, throw down their swords, shields, and banners in surrender.
Richard exiles John and his followers and then pardons the outlaws. He ennobles Robin as Baron of Locksley and Earl of Sherwood and Nottingham, and commands that Robin marry the Lady Marian. With Marian now by his side, from across the great hall, Robin replies with enthusiasm, "May I obey all your commands with equal pleasure, Sire!"
- Errol Flynn as Sir Robin of Locksley AKA Robin Hood
- Olivia de Havilland as Lady Marian Fitzwalter (Maid Marian)
- Basil Rathbone as Sir Guy of Gisbourne
- Claude Rains as Prince John
- Patric Knowles as Will à Gamwell AKA Will Scarlett
- Eugene Pallette as Friar Tuck
- Alan Hale, Sr. as John Little, aka Little John
- Herbert Mundin as Much, the Miller's Son
- Melville Cooper as the High Sheriff of Nottingham
- Una O'Connor as Bess
- Ian Hunter as King Richard the Lionheart
- Montagu Love as the Bishop of the Black Canons
- Harry Cording as Dickon Malbete
- Ivan F. Simpson as the proprietor of the Kent Road Tavern
- Leonard Willey as Sir Essex, a supporter of Prince John
- Robert Noble as Sir Ralf, a supporter of Prince John
- Kenneth Hunter as Sir Mortimer, a supporter of Prince John
- Robert Warwick as Sir Geoffrey, a supporter of Prince John
- Colin Kenny as Sir Baldwin, a supporter of Prince John
- Lester Matthews as Sir Ivor, a supporter of Prince John
- Lionel Belmore as Humility Prin, proprietor of the Saracens Head Tavern
- Charles Bennett as peddler at tournament
- Frank Hagney as a man-at-arms
- Holmes Herbert as the archery referee at the tournament
- Howard Hill as Elwen the Welshman, Robin's rival in the archery tournament
- Crauford Kent as Sir Norbett, a supporter of Prince John
- Carole Landis as a guest at the banquet
- Leonard Mudie as the town crier and as an eye-patched man stealthily telling men to meet Robin at the Gallows Oak
- Reginald Sheffield as the herald at tournament
- Trigger as Lady Marian's horse
- Sam Jaffe