Top Ten List for My Birthday #1

I have been writing this blog for over ten years now, and I have resisted putting up a list of my favorite films for that whole time. As the Borg say “Resistance is Futile!” 

This year I am marking another year in my sixth decade of life. I did several birthday posts in the past and enjoyed them immensely. The last two years my heart has just not been into it. This year however, I am trying to push my way back into normalcy, but I don’t have the energy to generate 63 things for a list. So what I am going to do is a ten day countdown of my favorite films.

Every year when I have posted a top ten list, I always point out that it is a combination of quality and subjective enjoyment that creates that list. Those are the guiding principles here as well. I will not claim that these are the ten greatest movies ever made, although I know several of them would be deserving of a spot on such a list. Instead, these are my ten favorite films as it stands at the moment. In a month, I could reconsider or remember something that I have tragically left off the list, but for this moment here is how they rank.

#1 The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)

I’ve had a few people who indicated surprise that “Jaws” was not in the number one position. Apparently, you have not read the stand alone page on this site that identifies this as my favorite movie. The reasons it ends up in that place of honor are coming, let me first tell you about the film.

“The Adventures of Robin Hood” starring Errol Flynn and Olivia De Havilland is one of the most beautiful films from the Golden Age of Hollywood. As an early all color feature, they literally used every color camera that existed in town to make the movie. The story was developed originally with another actor in mind, but studio politics and the successful paring of the two stars in a previous film resulted in the decision to cast Flynn. There was never a more perfect match between character and actor. The insouciant Flynn and the Devil-may-care Robin of Locksley were made for each other.

I have a healthy respect for films made in my lifetime. Seven of the ten films that appear on the current list were produced and released after the date of my birth, but I have always felt an affinity for the Hollywood of the past. The studio heads may have been tyrants, but they were also titans who took risks. The “factory” that created dreams is a mythology I romanticize and wish I could have seen up close. I have never made it a secret that I am a sentimentalist, I love movies that stir me, touch my heart or make me cry. Robin Hood does all of those things. The sentiment that all men should be free and treated fairly, the loyalty to the crown and country, and the passion and sacrifice inspired by love are all abundant in this movie. What is also abundant are the characters and plethora of actors that fill those roles. It is no surprise to me that Claude Rains appears in three films on my top ten list. He is the only actor who is in more than one film on my list, and he is the epitome of the golden age. 

Probably everyone who reads a site like this can remember the movie that made them fall in love with movies. This is the one that did it for me. As much as I love “Jaws”, I might not ever have seen it if I were not the movie fanatic that Robin Hood turned me into. So like your first love, the pattern of your life may be imprinted by that experience and I freely confess it here. This film, filled with the artifice of Hollywood, and the glamour of the studio system, is in my veins and it is the plasma that keeps me coming back. 

I hope all of you have a film like this somewhere in your heart.

Previous Posts on The Adventures of Robin Hood

A Love Letter to a Movie Classic

Academy Conversations TCM: The Adventures of Robin Hood

Centennial Screening Olivia De Havilland

Sunday Screening of Robin Hood

Centennial Birthday Screening of The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) In Honor of Olivia de Havilland

It has already been said and you can find the page link above, this is my favorite movie. Any time you get a chance to see your favorite movie on the big screen, you should jump at it. Tomorrow night will be Amanda’s turn and I will get to see my second favorite movie the day after the first. This is a fortuitous set of circumstances as we get ready to celebrate the Independence Day weekend. I only wish we could have seen my wife’s favorite (The Right Stuff) last night. It would have been perfect.

Olivia de Havilland turns 100 on July 1, and is the last remaining major female star of the Golden Age of Hollywood. If I were not on the road, I would return to the Egyptian on Saturday for the American Cinematique presentation of “Gone with the Wind”. Havilland is the last surviving cast member of one of the greatest American films ever and whether you like it or not, it is a cultural milestone.

The word “luminous” might very well have been invented to describe her presence on the screen in the films she made with Errol Flynn. Her face radiated life and positive energy and she was a truly beautiful woman. No wonder that both Guy of Gisborne and Robin of Locksley fell in love with her almost at first sight.

Oh, by the way she is also a spectacular actress. Her Melanie in GWTW may be the role she is forever remembered for but but watch her on the screen in this moment of nobility in Robin Hood, and you will be moved by her words as well as her looks.

Imagine how the world has changed in the span of her lifetime. She was in her early twenties when “The Adventures of Robin Hood” was made, that was before World War Two, in the Depths of the Depression. Jet aircraft did not exist, trips to the moon were the stuff of fiction, special effects consisted of paintings on glass and stuntmen with padding being shot with dull arrows to achieve the desired effect. She won two Academy Awards, was nominated five times and starred with Errol Flynn in eight movies in a six year period.

Happy Birthday Lady Marian , from one of the Merry Men of Sherwood.