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  Robin and Marian Everything Passes
Year: 1976
Director: Richard Lester
Stars: Sean Connery, Audrey Hepburn, Robert Shaw, Nicol Williamson, Richard Harris, Kenneth Haigh, Denholm Elliott, Ronnie Barker, Ian Holm, Esmond Knight, Bill Maynard, Peter Butterworth, Kenneth Cranham
Genre: Drama, HistoricalBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 4 votes)
Review: Although the Crusades have ended, Robin Hood (Sean Connery) and Little John (Nicol Williamson) still follow King Richard the Lionheart (Richard Harris). But when Richard unexpectedly dies, the two men decide to return to England to see Maid Marian (Audrey Hepburn). Many things have changed since they've been away, but one thing remains the same - the Sheriff of Nottingham (Robert Shaw) still holds sway over the land...

This lament for Robin Hood was scripted by James Goldman. All the familiar elements of the tale - the swordfights, the love story, the conflict between Robin and the Sheriff - are fashioned into a bittersweet tribute to an enduring myth, with fine performances, a pastoral look and an autumnal air to the proceedings.

Connery is great as Robin, full of rough, roguish charm one minute, but capable of brutal acts of violence the next. Shaw's Sheriff is sly and dangerous, biding his time for the inevitable confrontation, drawing Robin out to face him simply by waiting. But the film makes no bones about how old the characters are getting; they constantly let us know with offhand jokes and reminders of how long Robin has been away from Nottingham - perhaps too long.

The film shares some of the humour of Richard Lester's Three Musketeers movies: Ronnie Barker's Friar Tuck could have been easily played by Roy Kinnear, and there are nice comic touches such as the scene where Robin and John spend hours chipping away at stones in their prison cell, only for the guard to open the door just as they make a hole big enough to escape through.

But there is pain there as well: Hepburn's pragmatic yet sensitive Marian reveals that she tried to kill herself when Robin abandoned her all those years ago, and she has since become a nun. And Robin himself has to realise that once you become a legend, you belong to the past. After the ending, there won't be a dry eye in the house, I can tell you.

If there's a problem, it's that the film spends so much time in wistful reflection on times past and present, the story itself tends to be neglected. The unusual mixture of melancholy, disillusionment, romance, humour and action won't be to all tastes, but it creates a poignant mood, and the whole thing is a novel, welcome take on an old story. Appropriately lush music by John Barry.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Richard Lester  (1932 - )

American director, from television, in Britain whose initially zany style could give way to genuine suspense and emotion. After making his film debut with short The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film, which featured Goons Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan, he went on to throwaway projects like It's Trad, Dad and Mouse on the Moon. His next, however, was a smash hit all over the world: A Hard Day's Night, not least because it had The Beatles as stars.

Lester was at his most successful in the sixties and early seventies, with notable movies like The Knack, Beatles follow up Help!, stage adaptation A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, satire How I Won the War, romance Petulia, weird comedy The Bed Sitting Room, The Three Musketeers and The Four Musketeers and very British disaster movie Juggernaut.

Efforts like Royal Flash, Robin and Marian, gay bathhouse comedy The Ritz and Cuba made less impact, but in the eighties Lester was called in to salvage the Superman series after Richard Donner walked off Superman II; Lester also directed Superman III. Finders Keepers was a flop comedy, and Return of the Musketeers had a tragic development when one of his regular cast, Roy Kinnear, died while filming. Lester then decided to give up directing, with Paul McCartney concert Get Back his last film.

 
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