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Silent Era Home Page  >  Home Video  >  Robin Hood
 
Silent Era Films on Home Video
Reviews of silent film releases on home video.
Copyright © 1999-2017 by Carl Bennett
and the Silent Era Company.
All Rights Reserved.

Robin Hood
(1922)

 

With the production of The Mark of Zorro (1920), Douglas Fairbanks had tripped upon the swashbuckling larger-than-life characterization that defined the remainder of his motion picture career. Between Zorro and his next historical swashbuckler, The Three Musketeers (1921), Fairbanks made one more of the “habit of happiness” comedies that were indicative of his early career, The Nut (1921). After The Three Musketeers, he never looked back.

Robin Hood was Doug’s first $1 million-plus extravaganza. In those silent days, a big-budget film based on a public domain story could be undermined by a poverty row production company that would dash off a film based on the same story, give the film the same title and reach theaters before the major production could be completed. With the intent to thwart any such attempt to confuse audiences and cash in on his advance publicity, Fairbanks copyrighted and released his film under the title Douglas Fairbanks in Robin Hood.

From New Year’s Day 1922, the Fairbanks company kicked into high gear to produce the grandest spectacle the world had yet seen on film. The mammoth castle of King Richard and the Nothingham town sets required hundreds of carpenters and hundreds of thousands of dollars to complete, and they were authentic down to the smallest detail (as much so as Hollywood money could buy). Hundreds of extras had to be outfitted in historically accurate costumes. Months of shooting ensued. When the film was completed, the release prints made and the publicity paid for, Fairbanks had spent $1.4 million of his own money for Robin Hood. And it was a success. In the days when quarters bought you a movie theater ticket, Robin Hood made $2.5 million.

Does the film stand up under the weight of its historical story, its grand spectacle and its bloated budget? Of course it does, even for modern audiences. A film viewer today can readily understand why Fairbanks was a star. His energetic and enthusiastic performance still radiates from the screen today (that is, when the shy Earl of Huntingdon/Robin Hood isn’t required to talk with ladies of the court). Fairbanks is an engaging Robin Hood, but I question why the roles of Sam de Grasse as Prince John and of Wallace Beery as King Richard weren’t reversed. Perhaps for Beery’s brutish strength as Richard and for de Grasse’s shifty-eyed and villainous John. Sam de Grasse would later serve as an ideal villain to Fairbanks’ hero in The Black Pirate (1926). In supporting roles Enid Bennett portrays a flaccid Maid Marion and Alan Hale Sr. a dedicated and sincere Little John. — Carl Bennett

coverKino on Video
2004 DVD edition

Robin Hood (1922), color-tinted and color-toned black & white, 127 minutes, not rated.

Kino International, unknown catalog number, unknown UPC number.
One single-sided, dual-layered?, Region 1 NTSC DVD disc, 1.33:1 aspect ratio image in full-frame 4:3 (720 x 480 pixels) interlaced scan MPEG-2 format, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops; standard DVD keepcase, $29.95.
Release date: 3 February 2004.
Country of origin: USA
Kino International has rereleased their DVD edition of Robin Hood. Kino publicity states that the disc has been remastered from a 35mm archival negative, which would result in improved picture quality.

A Will Rogers parody has been added to the program, as has outtake footage.

 
USA: Click the logomark at right to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark at right to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
This Region 1 NTSC DVD edition is also available directly from KINO LORBER.
coverKino on Video
1999 DVD edition

Robin Hood (1922), color-tinted and color-toned black & white, 120 minutes, not rated.

Kino International, K116 DVD, UPC 7-38329-01162-8.
One single-sided, single-layered, Region 0 NTSC DVD disc, 1.33:1 aspect ratio image in full-frame 4:3 (720 x 480 pixels) interlaced scan MPEG-2 format, 4 Mbps average video bit rate, 224 kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, 23 chapter stops; snapper DVD case, $29.99.
Release date: 18 May 1999.
Country of origin: USA

Ratings (1-10): video: 7 / audio: 7 / additional content: 0 / overall: 7.

Robin Hood was considered a lost film in the 1950s but has, nonetheless, survived. From the condition of the print used for the DVD video transfer, we can deduce that the original negative and any original release prints have long since disappeared. However, the 35mm print used is in very-good shape, with some dupe print film grain and print speckling noticeable in the final picture. In no way does this distract from the viewer’s enjoyment of the film. Once again, video producer David Shepard is to be commended for another fine home video presentation of a classic silent era film.

I do have a picky problem with the soundtrack for the home video version. The original music score prepared in 1922 by Victor Schertzinger for the film’s release has been presented here, performed in digital stereo by Eric Beheim on a MIDI-based synthesizer system. And while I know the limited economics of preparing a home video version of a commercially moderate retail product have made this a necessary budget decision, a small chamber orchestra would have made a much more pleasant recording and appropriate soundtrack. Yes, in an ideal world this could be done.

Overall, Robin Hood remains an engaging and grand epic film and it is given a fine presentation in this DVD home video version, which has been replaced by the Kino edition noted above.
coverSt. Clair Vision
2006 DVD edition

Classic Tales of Adventure (1921-1955), black & white, 880 minutes total, not rated,
including Robin Hood (1922), black & white, 144 minutes, not rated.

St. Clair Vision, PDS87269-3VD, UPC 7-77966-87269-8.
Three single-sided, dual-layered, Region 0 NTSC DVD discs, 1.33:1 aspect ratio image in full-frame 4:3 (720 x 480 pixels) interlaced scan MPEG-2 format, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound (processed from mono sources), English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, 8 chapter stops; three-disc DVD keepcase, $9.98.
Release date: 2 May 2006.
Country of origin: Canada

Ratings (1-10): video: 4 / audio: 4 / additional content: 5 / overall: 4.

This edition has been mastered from a 16mm reduction print, quite greyed-out in its tonal range and flecked with a typical amount of speckling and dust. Highlight details are blasted out, and shadow details are lost in muddy greyness. The image detail in the good to very-good print is predictably soft, but what else is to be expected?

The film is accompanied by preexisting orchestral recordsings lifted from film soundtracks and other sources, in muffled monaural, which begs the question why St. Clair Vision thinks that 5.1 surround sound is justified, other than to dupe an unknowing consumer into thinking they are getting a disc of value.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
coverAlpha Video
2014 DVD edition

Robin Hood (1922), color-toned black & white, 120 minutes, not rated.

Alpha Home Entertainment, ALP 7528D, UPC 0-89218-75289-5.
One single-sided, single-layered, Region 0 NTSC DVD-R disc, 1.33:1 aspect ratio image in full-frame 4:3 (720 x 480 pixels) interlaced scan MPEG-2 format, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops; standard DVD keepcase, $7.98.
Release date: 24 November 2014.
Country of origin: USA

This budget edition has been mastered from an analog video transfer of a 16mm reduction print. The results are less than desirable, with blasted-out highlights that often lose facial details. The sound-film speed transfer makes the film’s action rush along at an unnaturally brisk pace.

The film is likely accompanied by a soundtrack compiled from preexisting recordings.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD-R edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD-R edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
coverDelta Entertainment
2005 DVD edition

Robin Hood (1922), black & white, ? minutes, not rated.

Delta Entertainment, unknown catalog number, unknown UPC number.
One single-sided, single-layered, Region 0 NTSC DVD disc, 1.33:1 aspect ratio image in full-frame 4:3 (720 x 480 pixels) interlaced scan MPEG-2 format, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops; standard DVD keepcase, $6.99.
Release date: 4 October 2005.
Country of origin: USA
This budget edition has likely been mastered from a 16mm reduction print.

The film is likely accompanied by a soundtrack compiled from preexisting recordings.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
coverReel Enterprises
2006 DVD edition

Robin Hood (1922), black & white, 118 minutes, not rated.

Reel Enterprises, unknown catalog number, unknown UPC number.
One single-sided, single-layered, Region 0 NTSC DVD disc, 1.33:1 aspect ratio image in full-frame 4:3 (720 x 480 pixels) interlaced scan MPEG-2 format, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops; standard DVD keepcase, $6.99.
Release date: 13 November 2006.
Country of origin: USA
This budget edition has likely been mastered from a 16mm reduction print.

The film is likely accompanied by a soundtrack compiled from preexisting recordings.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
Other silent era DOUGLAS FAIRBANKS films available on home video.
Douglas Fairbanks filmography in The Progressive Silent Film List
 
 
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