ROBIN AND MARIAN
(director: Richard Lester; screenwriter: James Goldman; cinematographer: David Watkin; editor: John Victor-Smith; music: John Barry; cast: Sean Connery (Robin Hood), Audrey Hepburn (Maid Marian), Robert Shaw (Sheriff of Nottingham), Richard Harris (King Richard), Nicol Williamson (Little John), Denholm Elliott (Will Scarlett), Ronnie Barker (Friar Tuck), Ian Holm (King John); Runtime: 106; MPAA Rating: PG; producers: Denis O’Dell/Richard Shepherd; Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment; 1976-UK)
“Overcomes its mediocre script by Lester’s excellent visualizations, the pleasing performances from Connery and Hepburn, and the broad comedy that underscores this tragic story.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Richard Lester’s (“A Hard Day’s Night”/”The Three Musketeers”) bittersweet sublime parody remains an intelligent, disturbing and somewhat humorous look at the medieval myth of Robin Hood that is surprisingly accurate in its depiction of historical events despite its revisionist script (which is saying a mouthful, but the historical details are still accurate even if all else is subject to conjecture). The film is only slowed down by James Goldman’s heavy-handed script.
A middle-aged Robin (Sean Connery) and best friend Little John (Nicol Williamson) return to France after being away fighting for the last twenty years in the Crusades for King Richard the Lionhearted (Richard Harris). Disillusioned but still loyal to an increasingly bloodthirsty and insanely evil King Richard, Robin refuses his King’s order to attack a castle for a gold treasure that is probably not there and to slaughter a mad old man and the women and children who live in the castle. For his refusal to obey Robin and Little John are arrested, but the King receives a wound from an arrow released by the old man that will soon prove to be fatal. Freed from prison upon Richard’s last wish, the men return to England and hook up again with their Merry Men of Sherwood Forest, as they meet Friar Tuck and Will Scarlett who are hunting deer. Robin is shocked to learn that the love of his life, the Maid Marian (Audrey Hepburn), has been for the last eighteen years a nun in the local Kirkly priory.
Things haven’t changed at home, as the evil Sheriff of Nottingham (Robert Shaw) is still his arch enemy. When Robin interferes with the Sheriff’s plans to arrest the Maid Marian, now the Abbess, this sets off a series of events that leads to open warfare. The orders to close down the nunnery come from the new King John, a rabid anti-papist. Back together in the forest, Robin and Marian find they are still in love.
It overcomes its mediocre script by Lester’s excellent visualizations, the pleasing performances from Connery and Hepburn, and the broad comedy that underscores this tragic story.
REVIEWED ON 12/5/2005 GRADE: B+