Thursday, August 11, 2011

Alexander Dumas' The Prince of Thieves (1948)

Since I've done the rest of the films released by Columbia in the wake of Russell Crowe's film I might as well do the one remaining one even though it's not very good.

Based on a book by Alexander Dumas this is a really weak Robin Hood adventure.While the film isn’t completely bad, it’s not a particularly good film. It’s the sort of thing that is occupying the border line between being worth seeing on a non-demanding, oh I’ve stumbled on it and there is nothing else on sort of a way and surfing to the next channel. It’s kind of on the cusp of even being able to be recommended here. As I said I’m only including it because I’m doing all four of the Columbia releases.

The first part of the film’s plot has Robin helping a returning noble getting his lady love away from the baddies who are planning on marrying her away. The second half has Robin trying to rescue maid Marion who has been hauled off.

There are some sword fights, some witty lines and some romance, kind of….

The whole thing was filmed in Cinecolor, which sometimes looks great, and in other cases looks terrible. Here the whole thing looks orange and brown, making much of the film look like an autumn display exploded. I was tempted to turn the color off on my TV because the look is so bad.

There are two problems with the film. First the film is really like two films loosely tied together. I’d be tempted to say it was two TV show episodes linked together, except they really didn’t have TV shows this elaborate when this was made.

The other problem is that the film is full of performances that are so arch and so knowing they fall into parody. Jon Hall as Robin plays it as a riff on Errol Flynn, but here Flynn could manage to be both arch and intimate here it just comes off as a bad performance. You want to talk back to the movie…

…which is probably the best thing to do. Riff away in the best MST3K style.

Not horrible, not bad, but not good and only begrudging recommended in a “well this is the only thing on” sort of away.

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