Sunday, July 22, 1984.
The Michigan Daily
'Robin Hood' hits bullseye
By Byron L. Bull
ON FRIDAY night the grand old
Michigan Theater in all its most
glorious movie palace splendor with its
special showing of Allan Dwan's 1922
silent film, Robin Hood.
The advertisements for the film
billed it as an "event" comparable to
the restoration of Abel Gance's
Napoleon some years ago, one that also
featured a live orchestra, but frankly
that description is an injustice because
Robin Hood was not some somber art
house revival but an unabashed festival
The evening sustained the right mix-
ture of magic, excitement, and elec-
tricity. The average adventure film
can only dream of creating such fun.
At the center of it all was the movie, a
film that was not only remarkably en-
tertaining for a 62-year-old antique, it
was simply remarkably entertaining,
period. As fine as the 1938 perennial
favorite with Errol Flynn is, I must
confess it pales in comparison to its
predecessor. Despite all of the
technical limitations, director Dwan
fashioned this film with all the
audacity, spectacle, and flair that
typifies the term swashbuckling. While
a few details may not have dated so
well, the overt gesticulations of the ac-
tors, and unintentional comic effect
given to movements under the older
camera speed, the years have done lit-
tle to tarnish this Robin Hood's charm.
This is surely the most spectacular of
adaptations. Dwan follows all of its
hero's career, from his days as the
revered Earl of Huntingdon, through
his adventures in the Crusades, and the
series of events that cause him to fall
from grace and retreat into the forest of
Sherwood as the outlaw Robin Hood.
The storyline here is much more
elaborate with more plot deviations,
and different interpretations in charac-
ters than any other version.
Douglas Fairbanks' Robin Hood is
not the suave womanizer one expects.
He is quite shy, even terrified of
maidens, and runs in terror from his
hordes of admierers. King Richard the
Lion Hearted is not so noble or stately,
he's more of a pompous buffoon. And
the Sheriff of Nottingham, here a
sniveling, frightful wimp, would make
Basil Rathbone wretch in disgust.
Robin Hood .(Douglas Fairbanks, Sr.) and the merry men take it to the bad guys in the long-neglected 1922 classic film.
in conjunction with the Summer Festival, the film featured live accompaniment by the Ann Arbor Chamber
Orchestra and Dennis James Friday night at the Michigan Theater.
Visually, Robin Hood is a large scaled
tale of virtually epic proportions. The
principles stroll past thousands of ex-
tras, against massively scaled sets
which no production could dream of
Director Dwan was a student of D.W.
Griffith and this film's sprawling can-
vas does have the master's touch to it.
The set pieces are fantastic, with a per-
fectly dreamy, fairytale quality to
The first hour, tracing the sequence
of misfortunes that banishes Robin
Hood from the kingdom of Richard and
forces him into becoming a renegade,
seemed padded and moved slowly.
But the final hour was a frenzied
series of battles and daring exploits
that built up to a cliffhanging climax at
a breathtaking pace.
As hemmed in as he was with his
crude, immovable cameras and mostly
static photography, Dwan nonetheless
crafted his sequences with deft pacing
and editing, that transcended his
limitations, and were electrifyingly ef-
Most refreshing was the lack of high
campiness that current filmmakers
find necessary to inject into today's ac-
tion/adventure films. Robin Hood lets
its heroes defy gravity and reason
without being self-consciously
apologetic. It did so with so much infec-
tious enthusiasm that the audience
loved every second of it.
The movie is lighthearted though,
even buoyantly joyous. To call Robin
and his men merry would be a gross
understatement. They're a wonderfuly
absurd lot given to howls of laughter
and dancing at the slightest
provocation. And the sight of hundreds
of men, clad in their medieval hunting
outfits, skipping and prancing through
Sherwood Forest is a sight one could
Douglas Fairbanks Sr., in his
feathered cap and shoulder-slung bow,
is the very essence of mirthful Robin.
Unlike later, more stalwart portrayals,
Fairbanks' hero is an almost childlike
incarnation, jolly and full of boundless
energy. He scampers across parapets,
up ivy covered towers, and over steep
walls with a graceful litheness unmat-
ched by his successors. Fairbanks even
had the good sense to imbue his Robin
with a very human clutziness, that
makes him all the more endearing.
No amount of praise can do justice to
the contribution played by theatre
organist Dennis James and the Ann Ar-
bor Chamber orchestra under Carl
Daehler, who performed the film's
soundtrack live from the theater pit.
See 'ROBIN,' Page 11
By Robin Jones
ACTRESS CLAIRE Bloom is a
woman of extraordinary talent. In
her own presentation, These Are
Women, she captured the essence of six
of Shakespeare's plays and brought the
characters to life in a stunning perfor-
mance Friday evening at Lydia Men-
A highlight of the Ann Arbor Summer
Festival, These Are Women gave
Bloom the opportunity to do a solo ren-
dering of characters she chose from
varied and strenuous texts. She in-
troduced each with a narration that
provided a satisfying introduction
without summerizing too much.
Although the performance consisted of
short dialogue interrupted only by oc-
casional sips of water, Bloom com-
municated each scene with such ease
that switching from play to play
seemed effortless and each scene was
as strong as the last one.
At 53, Claire Bloom has drawn upon
her experiences and years of hard work
both on stage and television to produce
this one-woman show. When needed,
she can be the stately, elderly Volum-
nia from Coriolanus or the pubescent
Juliet of Romeo and Juliet.
The most striking thing about Bloom
is her portrayal of womens' sensitivity.
No matter what role she played, she did
it with a dedication to present the
character's feelings. She merely glan-
ced at the pages of script on a music
stand (her only prop), and became a
different character, drawing the
audience deeper into the scene with
She concentrated on two plays,
Twelfth Night and Romeo and Juliet,
with brief sketches from four other
equally demanding works. Her
strongest performance was of both
Romeo and Juliet in the balcony scene.
She was so compelling in each part,
that at times it was difficult to remem-
See CLAIRE, Page 11
... the quintessential swashbuckler