Cinema Lumiere - Sala Officinema/Mastroianni > 17:45


Allan Dwan
Introduced by

Ehsan Khoshbakht

Piano accompaniment by

Donald Sosin, and Frank Bockius on drums


Saturday 02/07/2022


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

One of the most popular films of 1922, featuring the beloved rebel from Sherwood Forest – a character who had captured artists’ imaginations for centuries, inspiring medieval balladry and celluloid fantasy – was an odd take on its subject. It takes 70 minutes of screen time for the good-humoured, if stiff, Earl of Huntingdon (played by Douglas Fairbanks) to transform into Robin Hood – a long wait, though fairly well rewarded. In the meantime, director Allan Dwan keeps the audience engaged with his epic-scale reconstruction of court life, aided by Arthur Edeson’s painterly matte shots, and the fine sets, some of which were designed by Frank Wright (son of the famed architect).

Dwan plays with the contrast between the film’s two halves and gradually shifts the narrative away from the tiresome mannerisms of fair ladies and gallant gentlemen to the uninhibited joy of the people. The tyranny and pillage of England in the absence of King Richard is shown, as in medieval engravings, with graphic brutality; this hardly prepares the viewer for the exuberant, even slapstick action that follows. With no prior history, the heavily armoured Huntingdon is all of a sudden a master archer wearing Mitchell Leisen-designed tights, in which he slides down a 12-metre-long curtain and challenges Newton’s law of gravity. The characters, dwarfed by the massive sets, are liberated as their bodies start to navigate space through gymnastics and the genius of mechanical engineering. Once again, Fairbanks’s moustached grin gives life to this ballet of swords.

Every subsequent depiction of Robin Hood, including the Technicolor delight from 1938 by Michael Curtiz and William Keighley (which also borrows Alan Hale from the silent version), has stolen something from Doug and Dwan. But where else, except in silent films, could one cast Wallace Beery as King Richard of England without worrying about the roughneck gentleman slurring his lines in a Missouri accent?

Ehsan Khoshbakht


Cast and Credits

Sog.: Elton Thomas (Douglas Fairbanks). Scen.: Lotta Woods. F.: Arthur Edeson. M.: William Nolan. Scgf.: Wilfred Buckland, Irvin J. Martin, Edward M. Langley. Int.: Douglas Fairbanks (Duca di Huntingdon/ Robin Hood), Wallace Beery (Re Riccardo Cuor di leone), Sam De Grasse (principe Giovanni), Enid Bennett (Lady Marian Fitzwalter), Paul Dickey (Guy de Gisbourne), William Lowery (sceriffo di Nottingham), Willard Louis (fra Tuck), Alan Hale (Little John), Maine Geary (Will Scarlett), Billie Bennett (dama di compagnia di Marian). Prod.: Douglas Fairbanks Pictures. L.: 3340 m. 22 f/s. Col. (da un nitrato imbibito / from a tinted nitrate)