This Robin Hood Is More Buckled Than Swash

Posted: February 16, 2001

There's precious little merriment in Sherwood Forest in Richard Lester's Robin and Marian - a charmed and elegiac view of the Robin Hood legend that's really an essay on the theme of too-late-the-hero.

The inspiration of this underrated 1976 film, which memorably paired Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn in the leads, is to consider Robin Hood in his late middle years. The legend is in less than legendary form when Robin of Locksley returns from the Crusades - a man deeply scarred by the barbarism he has witnessed and with no clear idea of what he wants to do with the rest of his life.

Connery makes Robin a medieval man with a modern dilemma, and it fits the mellow humor of the movie. Naturally, Robin looks up Hepburn's Marian, who has inconveniently retired to a nunnery during his long absence.

The supporting cast is wonderful, with Robert Shaw as an honorably cunning sheriff of Nottingham and Nicol Williamson doing a superlative rendering of Little John. In a moment of welcome historical accuracy, Richard Harris plays King Richard as the bloody-minded twit he really was.

Robin and Marian is scheduled at the Colonial Theatre.

Desmond Ryan's e-mail address is dryan@phillynews.com.

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