|Robin and Marian
1976 - PG - 106 Mins.
|Director: Richard Lester
|Producer: Denis O'Dell and Richard Shepherd
|Written By: James Goldman
|Starring: Sean Connery, Audrey Hepburn, Robert Shaw, Richard Harris and Nicol Williamson
|Review by: Bill King
When 1976's "Robin and Marian" came out, nine years had passed since Audrey Hepburn's last film roles, in both "Two for the Road" and "Wait Until Dark." Unfortunately, it was not a triumphant return. Richard Lester's film is not only a weak retelling of the popular Robin Hood stories, but a movie of limp action and a devastating ending. For Sean Connery, this is a natural role for him, given that he's played a large variety of characters over the years. He does a good job here, but his strong presence in the lead can't overcome the film's weaknesses.
Did I tell you I once had a girlfriend named Pussy Galore?
The film takes place twenty years after Robin Hood (Connery) had left for the crusades. He's an old man in France now, eager to get back to England, but instead remaining loyal to King Richard (Richard Harris), who has shacked up in the country for reasons unexplained. After the King's death, Robin and Little John (Nicol Williamson) return to England to take up residence in Sherwood Forest. Some old friends enter the picture, in the form of Friar Tuck (Ronnie Barker) and Will Scarlett (Denholm Elliott). Of course, Robin wants to see Maid Marian (Hepburn), now a nun and wanted by King John (Ian Holm).
The story is pretty standard. Robin rescues some nuns from the castle. The Sheriff of Nottingham (Robert Shaw) is still in business. Robin puts together a new band of merry men, and fights on behalf of the poor. Towards the end, the Sheriff sets up camp outside the forest, hoping to lure Robin and his men out for a fight. If this plot were executed with any flair or excitement, it would have been enjoyable. That is not the case here. The actors swing swords as if struggling under their weight. Helmets look like buckets with holes in them. In one escape scene, we see lots of knights running towards Robin and John, only to see our two heroes fight off a few knights onscreen.
The last fight between the Sheriff and Robin has some excitement in it, but by then, I was unimpressed with the movie's action. Then there is the final moment between Robin and Marian. She commits an act that is not only completely out of character, but also nonsensical. Marian states her reason, and Robin nods his head, as if to agree. I'm not going to give it away here. Let's just say that the reason she gives does not support her action. As a nun, she should have known better.
There are some good things to say about the movie. I liked Sean Connery's portrayal of Robin Hood. It's a serious performance, with dashes of humor thrown in. Audrey Hepburn still radiates the screen, but she's not given much to do. The actors did have some nice chemistry, though. Nottingham looks very much like what a medieval town might look like. It's rugged and dirty, making the plight of the peasants more desperate.
"Robin and Marian" is not in the same league with the better Robin Hood movies. Even Walt Disney's animated "Robin Hood" (the one with the fox) was more entertaining. Richard Lester, best known for finishing up "Superman II" and helming "Superman III," wasted a lot of talents here by delivering a mediocre film. The climactic scene, with the Sheriff's men chasing Robin Hood's friends into the woods, is left completely unresolved. I don't know what's worse; allowing such a gaping plot hole to occur or returning Hepburn to the public's eye in an unsatisfying effort.