1938 - Dir: Michael Curtiz & William Keighley
Shown at The FeckenOdeon on 30th April, 2005
To those who think of vintage movies in terms of flickery, scratched black and white this meticulously restored 1938 blockbuster will be a revelation. Technical standards were at an all time high and Warner Brothers’ art department knew nothing of budgetary restraint - it’s a riot of colour, action and spectacle. This may be a museum piece but who says you can’t have fun in a museum!
In the most engaging performance of his career, Errol Flynn is jaunty, romantic, and larger than life, but also slyly funny as the Saxon knight who takes on the nasty Normans who have usurped the rule of England while King Richard has been out of town liberating the Holy Land from the "infidels." This is movie pageantry at its best, done in the grand manner of silent spectacles, brimming over with the sort of primitive energy that drew people to the movies in the first place.
- Erich Korngold was invited by Warner Brothers to come from his native Austria to Hollywood to see the film with a view to scoring it. He initially turned down the chance as he felt that his musical style was ill-suited for adventure spectaculars. However, while in Hollywood, he learned that the Nazis were about to invade Austria and, feeling he had to secure a source of revenue in the United States. He accepted the assignment and scooped one of the film’s 3 Oscars.
- Heavily padded stunt players and actors were paid $150 per arrow for being shot by professional archer Howard Hill, who also played the captain of the archers.
- The production used all 11 of the Technicolor cameras in existence in 1938 and they were all returned to Technicolor at the end of each day's filming.
- Although shot on location in California, indigenous English plants were added and the grass was painted to give a greener, more English look.