Robin and Marian (1976)

Robin and Marian (1976), directed by Richard Lester.

After their Sherwood adventures, Robin Hood and Little John have followed King Richard in the Crusades and France for 20 years. The King (Richard Harris, loving it) has become increasingly erratic and brutal. Robin has been insufficiently subservient ("You've always judged me!" roars the king) and is moments from getting his head lopped off when Richard dies of an arrow wound.

Back in England, Robin and John find Sherwood overgrown and the most outlandish tales being sung about the old days. The Sheriff (cool, competent Robert Shaw) actually seems rather pleased to see Robin: at last a worthy opponent. Till death do they part. (Return match-up between Shaw and Sean Connery 13 years after From Russia with Love (1963)).

Strong-willed Marian has taken orders and runs a nunnery. Robin will persist in rescuing her whether she needs it or not.

Connery and Audrey Hepburn have pretty fine chemistry as the aged lovers. Recovering an old love is like restoring youth, returning to better days, yes? As she says after daring rescue and escape from the castle: "Did we really used to do this all the time?"

The ending is sad: Marian decides to end the adventures with a potion. It's similar to the original legend, when Robin shoots an arrow in the air and says "Where it lands, dig my grave".

As in his The Three Musketeers (1973) and The Four Musketeers (1974), the director gives us historical adventure that is both real in look and details but also exciting, wry humored and often poignant.

Photographed by David Watkin. John Barry score. Lester: "the music constantly upsets me [...] it takes the pleasure away for me".