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Friday, May 30, 2008


Some of the grandest sets ever built in Hollywood would have overwhelmed many a swashbuckler, but Douglas Fairbanks & helmer Alan Dwan hold their own against all the pageantry. There’s a lot of backstory in this version (Sherwood Forest doesn’t make an appearance until the Crusades are dealt with) and a bit too much merry-making from those famous ‘Merry Men,' but the basic story seems just about indestructible by now. (Even Kevin Costner couldn’t do it in.) And it’s fun to spot some well remembered types, like Wallace Beery & Alan Hale, in their salad days. Hale played Little John two more times (1938 & 1950). For decades, this film & THE THIEF OF BAGDAD/'24 were considered Doug's best, but restored prints and better availability now show his work just growing stronger right up to the end of the silent period. So, don't stop here.

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