As Ridley Scottâ€™s ambitious epic Robin Hood reared its inflated head to strike at theatergoers across the world, some suits at Sony came up with the bright idea to release some classic Sherwood Forest tales from their vaults as budget-priced releases. The result is something labeled as the â€śRobin Hood Collection,â€ť which (thus far) consists of four vintage motion pictures from Columbiaâ€™s days of old. The collection begins with The Bandit Of Sherwood Forest (1946), directed by George Sherman and Henry Levin, and based on the novel, The Son Of Robin Hood.
As the original literary versionâ€™s title suggests, The Bandit Of Sherwood Forest introduces us to Robert of Nottingham (fourth-billed Cornel Wilde), the swashbuckling progeny of the original Robin Hood, the Earl of Nottingham (played here by Russell Hicks). Decades following the Earlâ€™s famous tryst against tyranny, the tiny island of England is once again being beleaguered by the current Regent, William of Pembroke (played to the hilt by the great Henry Daniell), who is planning to murder the young King of England (Maurice Tauzin) and seizing the crown for himself.
On hand to give the Son of Robin Hood a little love interest (and really, what fun is the pursuit of justice without the promise of love afterward?) is Lady Catherine (Anita Louise — who, interestingly enough, is top-billed). Joining Robert and his aging father are Robin Hoodâ€™s band of Merry Retirees (Edgar Buchanan as Friar Tuck, John Abbott as Will Scarlet, Ray Teal as Little John, et al), who unite to overthrow the Regent and his gang of baddies. Jill Esmond received second-billing as the Queen Mother in this overly ambitious but enjoyable Technicolor effort. George Macready and Ian Wolfe also star.
Next up is The Prince Of Thieves (1947), directed by Howard Bretherton, written by Charles H. Schneer, and produced by Columbiaâ€™s one and only Sam Katzman. Jon Hall, a one-time star who was well on his way into the annals of obscurity when this one came out, stars as Robin Hood. Having rescued Maid Marian (Patricia Morison) and her brother, Sir Allan Claire (Michael Duane), from the bow of a would-be assassin (played by I. Stanford Jolley, a regular heavy in the Republic serials), Robin Hood soon assembles his faithful band of Merry Men (Walter Sande, Syd Saylor, and the great Alan Mowbray) in an attempt to kidnap Sir Allanâ€™s beloved Lady Christabel (Adele Jergens), whose father has decided to marry her off to another bloke.