Based on the Legend of Robin Hood
Starring: Richard Greene, Peter Cushing, Niall MacGinnis, Nigel Green, Sarah Branch, Dennis Lotis, Oliver Reed, Desmond Llewelyn
Director: Terence Fisher
1960 | 80 Minutes | Approved
“I have the Sheriff’s word you’ll not be harmed.” – Maid Marian
“I know what the Sheriff’s word is worth.” – Robin Hood
Robin Hood (Richard Greene) and his Merry Men must go undercover to stop a plot to assassinate the Archbishop of Canterbury.
As a big fan of the 1950s Adventures of Robin Hood TV series, I was delighted to see that Richard Greene had reprised the role for one of Hammer Films’ Robin Hood movies, Sword of Sherwood Forest.
The movie starts with a nice ballad, similar to the 1950s Adventures of Robin Hood TV series, getting me ready for the same type of fun I am accustomed to from the light-hearted adventure television series.
Richard Greene falls instantly back into his classic Robin Hood form. Greene’s Robin Hood is one that is neither too silly nor too serious and has a definite charm that should always come with this character.
Another aspect that I really appreciate was that you get the sense that Robin and his Merry Men have been out in Sherwood Forest for quite some time. Very few movies give us this take on the character. Almost every single Robin Hood movie and TV show goes all the way back to the beginning to reestablish his origin, flashes through a short bit of his time in Sherwood, then ends with a big blow out battle and a happy ending. I like that Sword of Sherwood Forest assumes that we understand why Robin Hood and the Merry Men are in Sherwood Forest and simply gives us another of their many adventures, ultimately leaving room for more to come.
Many of the classic Robin Hood tropes are present… many which have been forgotten in many more recent Robin Hood movies. Disguises, ballads, mystery, humor, fun, colorful costumes and sets… It’s all here.
There’s really a lot going for Sword of Sherwood Forest on the front end. It’s the story and storytelling that ultimately let the movie down in a big way. The story is more of a political mystery with the Sheriff of Nottingham, wealthy landowners and church officials all involved. It’s not an overly complicated plot if you feel like putting much thought into it but I don’t think I’m alone when I say that just isn’t what I’m looking for in a Robin Hood movie. It ends up feeling like a pretty low level threat for a feature film adventure for the great Robin Hood. It honestly feels like it should have been a single episode (maybe two) of the Adventures of Robin Hood had they trimmed the obvious fat (Friar Tuck, I’m looking at you!).
It is interesting to note that there is a fair amount of death and destruction considering how slow the majority of the movie was. I’m sure this is a bit of Hammer Films’ giving us a glimpse of what they do best.
Sword of Sherwood Forest does a lot of things right but doing one of two major things wrong has let down a movie that could have been a really nice companion piece to the Adventures of Robin Hood TV series. As it stands, most fans are likely to go back to episodes of the TV series if they want a dose Richard Greene’s Robin Hood, rather than this dull affair.