Sunday, April 22, 2012

What Every Action Movie Can Learn From 1938

What does it say about the state of American action films that most of them still need to attend a few lectures from The Adventures of Robin Hood 101?

So back in 1938, Warner Bros. released what was at the time the most expensive movie they'd ever produced, a lavish production of the Robin Hood legends shot in full-color photography and staring the up-and-coming Errol Flynn. . . and in doing so cemented the blueprint for a perfect action movie. One followed by the likes of Raiders of the Lost Ark, Die Hard, and The Matrix, but not nearly enough others.

As was sometimes the case under the old studio system, two directors ended up headlining the project: William Keighley and Michael Curtiz (of Casablanca fame) shared credit on the film, the latter responsible for the now-legendary action sequences. And while plenty of other directors have aped some of the movie's trademarks (such as the Chatty Swordsmen or the iconic Dueling Shadows), most seem to have forgotten the care that went into the rest of the film to make a truly perfect action film.

So here are some Cliff's Notes: