“Have you ever tried to fight a legend?”
Robin Hood (Sean Connery) returns from twenty years of fighting in the Crusades to find that his one true love, Maid Marian (Audrey Hepburn), has become a nun.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Audrey Hepburn Films
- Folk Heroes
- Historical Drama
- Richard Harris Films
- Richard Lester Films
- Robert Shaw Films
- Sean Connery Films
I’ve struggled for a while now to figure out why Richard Lester’s seriocomic historical drama (listed as a Sleeper and Personal Recommendation in the back of Peary’s book) doesn’t quite work, and I’ve finally realized that the problem is one of casting: while Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn are wonderful here as an older Robin Hood and Maid Marian, the fact remains that they never played their younger counterparts — and thus we have little emotional investment in seeing them get back together. While it’s fun to imagine a youthful Connery and Hepburn in an earlier incarnation, an entire story revolving around their reunion seems, at best, speculative.Robin and Marian also suffers from a schizophrenic attitude towards genre: while Lester periodically attempts doses of humor (reminding one at times of Monty Python and the Holy Grail), this tone isn’t carried consistently throughout, and the film’s emotionally charged ending doesn’t resonate with what’s come before. In addition, Robin Hood’s renewed feud with the Sheriff of Nottingham (well played by Robert Shaw):
feels contrived, and their climactic one-on-one swordfight doesn’t hold much interest (again, the blame lies with a lack of prior investment in the characters).
The film’s most powerful element — and its true saving grace — is the genuine screen chemistry between Connery and Hepburn, who ultimately deserve a much better vehicle for their talents.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Audrey Hepburn in a welcome comeback performance
- A touching romance between the older, wiser Robin and Marian
- Fine historical sets
No. While it holds some historical interest as the film that brought Hepburn out of her self-imposed retirement from acting, it’s ultimately no longer must-see viewing.