The Adventures of Robin Hood

  • Review Date: May 1, 2007
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 1938
  • Running Time: 102 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Errol Flynn stars in swashbuckling family delight.
  • Review Date: May 1, 2007
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 1938
  • Running Time: 102 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Prince John extorts and approves the torture of Englishmen because they are Saxon instead of Norman. He plans to overthrow his brother. He's also an effeminate man, pairing villainous deeds with stereotypically gay characteristics.


A lot of sword fighting, ambushes, and people who die from hanging, arrows to the heart, and stabs, but it's all bloodless and not realistic looking. Robin also talks about countrymen being tortured, with ears being cut off, eyes burned with hot irons, and other gruesome attacks. Robin is captured and beaten, falling down a staircase. He's threatened with hanging. There's also talk of assassination. One main character is stabbed and killed.


Robin kisses Marion's hand, and the couple kisses three times.

Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Prince John and his friends drink wine.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that while there's little sexuality and no foul language on display, there's a lot of old-fashioned violence: no blood, but lots of characters are hanged, extorted, skewered with swords and arrows, and generally attacked. The film's villain is an effeminate simperer, pairing villainous deeds with stereotypically gay characteristics, which could in effect demonize both together.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Errol Flynn stars as Lord Robin of Locksley, a Saxon nobleman who's enraged at the mistreatment of his people and the world-domination ambitions of his government. When King Richard the Lionheart (Ian Hunter) leaves on a crusade, England falls into the hands of his meglomaniacal and simpering brother Prince John (Claude Rains), who is only out to fill his pockets with Saxon money. He abuses the people, overtaxes them, and leaves them impoverished and enraged. Robin takes on their cause as a leader, becoming an outlaw for resisting Prince John's will. Soon, Robin is making a fool of the prince and wooing the beautiful Norman Maid Marion (Olivia de Havilland). But can he win out over John and return King Richard to the throne?

Is it any good?


It's almost hilarious these days to watch much older films. The rat-tat-tat quickfire dialogue, the arch, patrician accents, and acting that seems stilted and false can make it hard for younger viewers to enjoy a film like THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD. But if they stick it out, they'll be treated to a great story, some unintentionally funny moments, and a window into a distinctly 1930s American sensibility. What's fascinating about this Robin Hood is that it's less a sweet and cartoonish fairy tale than it is a thinly veiled attack on American capitalism and an absentee leader. When the king returns in disguise and asks Robin whom he blames for the chaos in England, he says, "I blame Richard. His task was here at home defending his own people instead of deserting them to fight in foreign lands." You can't get much more transparent than that.

And the whole robbing-from-the-rich-giving-to-the-poor couldn't be more clear: "To them this is heaven," Robin explains to Marion after ambushing the royal entourage and taking their riches and giving them to the starving Saxons. "Suits for rags, kindness instead of riches, limitless food instead of hunger. Why, they're actually happy." It's hard to imagine a blockbuster movie today offering such lefty sentiments. Politics aside, it's a rare action movie that doesn't take itself too seriously, and that definitely adds to the fun here. Even during fight scenes, the music is light and upbeat. Compared to other man-against-his-government films like the dour Shooter, Robin Hood is refreshing. And don't forget to enjoy the costumes. It's delightful that in Medieval England, Marion still manages to float through Sherwood Forest in a collection of silk, lame, satin, and chiffon ball gowns. You have to admire that in a girl.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how the film reflected what was happening in the world in 1938. It's a good opportunity to teach kids about allegories -- that is, stories that have both literal and symbolic meaning. Can viewers spot the allegories for issues at the forefront of World War II America, including labor unionism, the Holocaust, and the Great Depression? What does Robin Hood represent? Why is the idea of a resistance important?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:May 14, 1938
DVD release date:September 30, 2003
Cast:Basil Rathbone, Claude Rains, Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland
Directors:Michael Curtiz, William Keighley
Studio:Warner Home Video
Run time:102 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:adventure violence

This review of The Adventures of Robin Hood was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Educator and Parent of a 10, 10, and 13 year old Written bysbatt November 19, 2009

We loved men in tights!

Funny, high energy, just a good time movie! I highly recommend it.
What other families should know
Great role models
Parent Written byhasklar September 23, 2011

Old-Fashioned Fun and a great introduction to classic movies

One of the best classic movies to introduce kids to old movies. Equally enjoyable for boys and girls. Teaches kids about tyranny, justice, fair play, sharing with others when you have more and they have less. There is some violence (e.g., fighting with bows and arrows, swords, an attempted hanging) and a little blood, so it's important to watch these scenes with your kids and explain how real violence hurts. But mostly, it's good clean old-fashioned fun, exhilarating and charming. Though the bad prince is a bit effeminate, I wouldn't necessarily characterize this as outright homophobia, as the reviewer on this site does. Also pair this movie with Disney's animated ROBIN HOOD and invite the kids to compare.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Adult Written byMovieLover4Lyfe September 14, 2010
One of my most favorite versions of Robin Hood! Errol Flynn does an awesome job playing Robin! Sure to be a hit and a family favorite :)


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