It's a Bit of a Challenge
There have been numerous movies built around the legend of Robin Hood and some are quite clearly better than others. Where does "A Challenge for Robin Hood" come in the long list? Well not near the top that's for sure, in fact whilst it's an entertaining movie it is a version of the legendary tale which wavers around the middle. The trouble is that watching "A Challenge for Robin Hood" now it is incredibly dated, from plenty of thigh slapping to fake guffaws of laughter it is very much a movie built on cliche acting. And so whilst watching Robin prove himself to Alan-a-Dale in a fight is entertaining it almost borders on feeling cheesy.
When Sir John de Courtenay (William Squire) passes away he decrees in his will that his estate should be shared between his family, Sir Roger (Peter Blythe), Robin (Barrie Ingham) and Henry (Eric Woofe). But Roger has other plans and kills Henry whilst making it look like it was Robin by using his knife. With no choice but to flee his home Robin along with Friar Tuck (James Hayter) head to the nearby Sherwood Forest where he becomes the leader of a band of rebels who rob from the rich to give to the poor. But for Robin he has a debt to settle and doesn't waste an opportunity to not only get revenge on his cousin Roger but also Roger's close friend the Sheriff of Nottingham (John Arnatt).
Now over the years I have watched various accounts of the legend of Robin Hood and whilst many feed off of the legendary story they also often deliver their own twist and "A Challenge for Robin Hood" is no different. In this version of the legend, Robin is in fact a Norman nobleman called Robin de Courtenay who falls foul of his deceitful cousin Sir Roger de Courtenay and ends up joining up with a band of men who live in the woods, becoming their leader when he immediately comes up with a plan for a way to survive. It most certainly is a different set up to other Robin Hood movies which often feature Robin returning from the conquests in Europe.
But whilst this intro is entertaining with Robin being falsely accused of the murder of his cousin Henry what follows on from there is for the most cliche. We watch as Robin and his band of men rob from the rich and give to the poor and when he learns that his friend Will Scarlett is facing the gallows for helping him escape he leads his men on a cunning mission to rescue him. Throw in a sub plot which revolves around rescuing Marian and what you get is basically typical Robin Hood action with some nicely choreographed action scenes. And to be honest for a movie which is over 40 years old and a bit cliche the action is entertaining, although you have to laugh when in one scene you can see a car passing in the background.
The trouble is that as already mentioned "A Challenge for Robin Hood" feels very dated especially when it comes to the acting. It is a case we get a lot of hands on hips, thigh slapping and thunderous guffaws of laughter which are completely false. And it also doesn't help that many of the actors sound like they have walked straight out of a Charles Dickens' movie with that very posh theatrical tone to their voice. As such whilst the likes of Barrie Ingham, Eric Flynn, Peter Blythe and Gay Hamilton do little wrong what they do ends up feeling as old fashioned as it is.
What all this boils down to is that "A Challenge for Robin Hood" is entertaining but also very ordinary and whilst it delivers a couple of changes on the legend of Robin Hood it doesn't really add much to the basic storyline. In many ways it is a movie which will appeal to those who enjoy the old fashioned swashbuckling style action movies with that sense of false posturing being quite dominant through out.
Tags: Robin Hood Movies