A big-screen spectacle that ranks as one of the monumental accomplishments of the era, Robin Hood is a timeless story of romance and intrigue, staged on a herculean scale. Its sets were erected by an army of 500 carpenters and towered 90 feet in the air, covering ten acres of land -- historically accurate to the smallest detail.
Robin Hood recreates "the chivalry of England in all its glory" as it unveils the conflicts and betrayals that threaten to destroy the kingdom of Richard the Lion-Hearted (Wallace Beery). As the Earl of Huntington, Fairbanks epitomizes the valiant, loyal knight immortalized in Arthurian legend, gently wooing the virtuous Lady Marian (Enid Bennett). When King Richard, Huntington and a band of warriors embark on a crusade to Palestine, Richard's conniving brother John (Sam De Grasse) assumes the throne and turns the once-idyllic empire into a Dante-esque sty of corruption. In the darkest hour, however, Huntington shirks off his noble demeanor and is transfigured into Robin Hood, a hyper-animated avenger who, just a few leaps ahead of his merry men, breathlessly storms the battlements in pursuit of Prince John, the High Sheriff of Nottingham (William Lowery) and all who stand in the way of justice.
Allan Dwan's production of the tale, starring Douglas Fairbanks as the eponymous hero, was the first to include most of the elements that would become familiar to film audiences in the many later versions. One of the most expensive films of the 1920s, it required the construction of the entire village of Nottingham, one of the most elaborate sets of the era. The film opens with the Earl of Huntingdon besting Sir Guy of Gisbourne (Paul Dickey)is a joust. Huntingdon soon joins King Richard the Lionhearted (Wallace Beery) to fight in the Crusades against the infidels. Upon hearing that the nefarious Prince John (Sam de Grasse) has usurped Richard's throne, Huntingdon immediately returns to Nottingham, adopting the name of Robin Hood. Leading a band that steals from the rich to give to the poor, he makes life miserable for Prince John and his cohorts Sir Guy and the Sheriff of Nottingham (William Lowery). But after rescuing Maid Marian (Enid Bennett) from the clutches of Prince John, Robin himself is captured. Fairbanks is at his acrobatic best in this spectacular production which features a fine cast including a surprising Beery as the benign king.