Monday, April 27, 2009

Favorite Movies - part 1

Robin Hood is an old old friend. Long cold wintry Chicago afternoons with Cuters under afghans (the green ones) and snacks everywhere and Errol and the gang in green tights. They were definitely Men in Tights, dashing sword-fighting athletic men. We all wanted to swing from those vines into Sir Guy's gaping face, and then stuff ourselves at the feast with The Lady Marian by our side. Except for the times we wanted to be Little John and Friar Tuck and pick on each other. There's intrigue and love and honor and justice and and there are horses and castles and bows and arrows in addition to those swords. It's just wonderful.

TBG first gave me this gift, and endeared himself to G'ma forever in doing so. She's always said that if Errol Flynn came to her door, she was ready for him. This was the first time I'd ever heard the expression "I wouldn't kick him out of bed for eating crackers."

We've seen every incarnation of the movie (Kevin Costner should be ashamed of himself) but only Disney's version made it into our permanent rotation. "Kid Robin Hood" is more than a watered down remake. It's thoughtful homage of the highest order. Watch the crowd of tortured peasants behind Robin and Marian in the glen and you'll see Mother Rabbit's inspiration; the main characters' avatars are all too easy to spot. Peter Ustinov voiced both the brothers, Prince John and King Richard. And if you can watch Sir Hiss and not see Basil Rathbone, then you need to learn to embrace your inner child.

The film never ceases to surprise us. Tonight we watched it on TCM and it was the clearest print we'd ever seen. Now you know that we are true fanatics: we'd never noticed the lavender stained glass windows behind Prince John as he's dressing for his coronation. Nor that Will Scarlet's saddle was bright green, and that Basil Rathbone's cloak at the archery tournament had a golden lining. The music was clearer, too. Erich Wolfgang Korngold (that's a great name for a composer) makes you ride through the stream and feel the water on your horse's flank and introduces your kids to the notion of theme in composition. Just let us hear a snippet - we'll tell you what is on the screen without having to look.

And, like all the best movies, the last frame on the screen says The End.

"May I obey all your commands with equal pleasure!"

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