(director/writer: Allan Dwan; screenwriters: story by Elton Thomas (a.k.a. Douglas Fairbanks)/Lotta Woods; cinematographer: Arthur Edson; editor: William Nolan; cast: Douglas Fairbanks (The Earl of Huntingdon/Robin Hood), Wallace Beery (Richard the Lion-Hearted), Enid Bennett (Lady Marian Fitzwalter), Sam De Grasse (Prince John), Paul Dickey (Sir Guy of Gisbourne), William Lowery (The High Sheriff of Nottingham), Roy Coulson (The King’s jester), Alan Hale (Little John), Willard Louis(Friar Tuck); Runtime: 127; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Douglas Fairbanks; Kino International; 1922-silent)


An epic silent version of the Robin Hood legend.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

An epic silent version of the Robin Hood legend, that’s set in the 12th century. It’s the biggest production made to date, whose large scale includes great sets (one example is a dazzling ninety feet tall castle built by Frank Lloyd Wright’s son), costumes, stunts (the most noteworthy is of Fairbanks doing his own stunt of sliding down a two-story tapestry), intimate mob scenes and its thorough research to get things historically accurate, but it lacks the needed emotional impact to make it a great film. Director Allan Dwan (“The Iron Mask”/”Suez”/”Sands of Iwo Jima”)is better handling the sets than the actors, whose prancing moves are dated when viewed today.Though enjoyable, it’s not more than a ripping swashbuckler tale of the good guys against the hissable villains.

It opens withthe Earl of Huntington (Douglas Fairbanks) defeating his cheating rival Sir Guy of Gisbourne (Paul Dickey) in a tournament joust. Afterwards the Earl of Huntington, a timid with the ladies warrior, nevertheless getting up his nerve to declare his love for Lady Marian Fitzwalter (Enid Bennett) and soon afterwards riding off to the crusades as the second in command to Richard the Lionhearted (Wallace Beery). When news reaches Huntingdon that the evil brother of Richard’s, Prince John (Sam De Grasse), has usurped Richard’s throne, Huntingdon is framed for desertion by Sir Guy and imprisoned before he has a chance to tell Richard why he is leaving the crusade. After Huntingdon escapes from prison, he takes the disguise of the bandit Robin Hood and returns to Nottingham to combat the evil-doers such as Prince John, his henchmen and The High Sheriff of Nottingham (William Lowery) and foils their coup. In the process Robin Hood must save the citizens from unjust taxation, torture, property destruction and rescue the Maid Marian from prison, and is helped by Little John (Alan Hale Sr.), Friar Tuck (Willard Louis) and the other carefree members of his band of merry men in Sherwood Forest.

It follows the familiar Robin Hood tale, and provides thrills though Fairbanks’ acrobatic and energetic performance and is a feast for the eyes in its visual splendor. It cost an astonishing at the time $1.4 million to make.