Forget Russell Crowe! This was the original, if not the best - my personal favourite is the Errol Flynn version. And the Errol Flynn version certainly borrowed heavily from the Fairbanks version, especially the set for the hall of Nottingham Castle, with that staircase going round the outside of some sort of tower in the middle of it (with Errol and Basil Rathbone fencing up and down it in the later version).
Alan Hale was the (un-named) squire to Douglas Fairbanks' Earl of Huntington, and of course Errol Flynn had Alan Hale Jr as his Little John - and they really did look alike. His idea of protecting Lady Marion was to lurk around in the background and fold his arms a lot.
We have Richard setting off on Crusade with Huntington as his second in command, leaving behind the lovely Lady Marion FitzWalter, and setting up a rivalry with Guy of Gisbourne early on. They only get as far as France when Marion sends a message to bring Huntington back to deal with John - and when he gets there, she's faked her own death and is hiding out in a convent. So off he goes to re-invent himself as Robin Hood.
I loved the way that you could only tell you were looking at the High Sheriff of Nottingham because he wore a floppy hat - if he wasn't wearing or carrying the hat, they had to do a sub-title to tell you (sub-title is the wrong word, I know - I mean where the words come up on the screen between the action). Prince John was suitably villainous, King Richard was hearty, and Robin wouldn't just walk anywhere when he could skip and jump and wave his arms around. In spite of all that, it was great fun - and it had a coherent plot, unlike Douglas Fairbanks' other great swashbuckler The Black Pirate, which was a pile of dingo's kidneys from start to finish (though with some great set piece action sequences).
It really was a spectacle, too - the castle set covered 10 acres, and there were huge numbers of crusaders, outlaws and men at arms, page boys carrying trumpets and so forth.
Some of the costumes were a bit wierd - Lady Marion's dress with the big white dots on the skirt, for instance, and Douglas Fairbanks' first appearance is in a very silly helmet, which he promptly takes off.
All in all, though, it was great fun, and laid the groundwork for later adaptations of the legend.
Anything with a vague historical bent
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