Friday, July 18, 2008

Welcome (back) to Sherwood

You know those popup commercials which sprout like mushrooms behind the browser window, when you're following a news link from site to site? You don't realize it when you have a small(er) monitor, like the laptop was used to looking at until a few weeks ago, but some of those commercials are programmed to pop open at 100% width of the monitor ... and when your monitor as 22" wide, the damned commercial is the size of BEN HUR, as well as flickering in fluorescent, dayglo colors.

I just followed a link through to newspaper in India (!) to chase down a rumor regarding who's going to play Robin Hood in the new Russell Crowe movie, NOTTINGHAM ... and I'll have spots before my eyes for a week. (Don't these advertising genii know, also, that flashing crap is one of the fastest triggers for migraine! You'll be selling a lot of [whatever it is you were trying to sell; I didn't even look] with your customers holding their heads and puking!)

All right, Keegan, off the damned soapbox already! It's Russell Crowe people want to read about.

Which is a pity, because I'm not actually talking much about Russell Crowe today, but about the movie, NOTTINGHAM, and the genre itself (Robin Hood is a genre all his/its own).

I heard about the new Robin Hood last week. At that time, the only firm info was that Russell Crowe was going to be in it, and -- woah. Russell as Robin, thought I. That would have been grand. Naturally, though, he'll not be playing Robin (looks like Christian Bale might be, but he's not the only one being ground up and spat out by the rumor mill at this point). Just so long as Russell isn't playing the Sheriff.

And then again ... wellllll, there have been two fantastic Sherifs of Nottingham that I can remember. Nickolas Grace was probably the best, in the TV series, Robin of Sherwood. (I also liked the pagan take on the legend, in that series. Also the soundtrack music, by Clannad.) He's one of the best gay actors to come out of the UK, immensely talented, and his take on the Sherrif was delcious. The other great Sheriff was as completely different as it would be possible to get and still be in a Robin Hood movie: Robert Shaw, in ROBIN AND MARIAN (Audrey Hepburn was the Maid, and Sean Connery was Robin.)

Of the two takes on the Sheriff of Nottingham, I'd have to choose Nickolas Grace ... and not beause he's gay, but because he played the part with a sharpness that was acid-etched. Brilliant. He has the ability to oscillate from the evil to the benign, to the amusing, to the sensual, seemingly at whim. One would guess he'd be the director's dream actor. Marvellous.

Robert Shaw played the part exactly like ... Robert Shaw, which is enough said! With THE DEEP, JAWS, SWASHBUCKLER and so on, he'd established himself as the 'forty something, steel-eyed anti-hero.' It was a niche Clint Eastwood would dominate, after Shaw's untimely death in 1978. (Good gods, has it been 30 years?) There was something very 'real' about Robert Shaw: warts and all, wrinkles and all, he was so human, you believed him in the midst of the "dress up and pretend" game actors play (and for which they get paid megabucks).

So, the upcoming Robin Hood movie will be vatly interesting to me, because I grew up on the genre. The first movie I remember was THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD ... yep. Errol Flynn. Nope, I'm not that bloody old! Not yet. I saw it on TV. Also fell for Errol Flynn like a load of bricks. What a surprise.

I suppose I should nominate my candidates for the best Robin, after having rambled at length about the best Sheriffs. There have been many of them, but I'd have to go with Flynn ... and not because he was gay (although that doesn't hurt), but because he was the one who gave Robin the biggest (over)dose of verve, vitality, energy. I also liked Michael Praed in the pagan-take TV series, but Flynn remains my pick. Praed was introverted and dark; Flynn was ... Robin Hood on uppers. Made you exhausted just watching him.

All of which leads me back to Russell Crowe and (possibly) Christian Bale in NOTTINGHAM, and I'm trying to picture one as the Sheriff and the other as Robin. I know, I know, Russell is playing a character called Sir Robert Tornham ... but that's his NAME. 'Sheriff of Nottingham' is his rank and title. Nickolas Grace's Sheriff was called Robert de Reinault (or however you'd spell something in French which sounds oddly like Draino. The above is a best guess).

At the moment, I'm just not seeing it. I guess I'll have to wait for the movie!


Gaycrow said...

I haven't seen either of your favourite Sherriffs, but for me, no-one beats Alan Rickman in Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves. His George is wonderful! He acted the pants off Kevin Kostner.

Link to YouTube of one of my favourite George scenes

As for my favourite Robin ... I'll always have a soft spot for Richard Greene. One of my first TV crushes way back when. ;-) Link

Mel Keegan said...

Gaycrow - I know the movie well -- Alan Rickman is always superb. I admit to a sneaking appreciation of the Sheriff in MEN IN TIGHTS, too, gods help me. Someone at Youtube went through the whole movie, plucked out his scenes and daisy-chained them together. Check this out:

Patrick Roberts said...

Russell Crowe's accent seems to already resemble something that would fit in a new Robin Hood movie... though he'll probably have to get a bit slimmer than what his recent role in Body of Lies

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