It’s More than One Sword…

In the final reel, Sword of Sherwood Forest finally finds some energy. Villains set a village ablaze, and still more villains raid a church to do battle with Robin Hood. Although from 1960, Sword of Sherwood Forest carries an old-fashioned appeal, clearly recalling Errol Flynn for its sword duels and hokey romance.

Following a TV series, this movie shares no connection other than in star Richard Greene reprising the Robin Hood part. Although, it seems the production values were about the same too.

While at times playful, there’s little spirit behind  Sword of Sherwood Forest

It’s a pithy, dull offering from Hammer, sluggish from the outset. A maddeningly dull archery competition midway through goes nowhere, halting any story progress in a desperate bid for cheap action. While at times playful, there’s little spirit behind Sword of Sherwood Forest, and Greene brings no memorable qualities to the role outside of the characters known outlaw traditions.

If there’s reason to watch, credit Peter Cushing, to likely no surprise. As the typically cruel Sheriff of Nottingham, Cushing’s vicious, piercing stare and the part’s necessary arrogance brings more to Sword of Sherwood Forest than anything else.

At issue is how little Robin Hood is in this story, at least in the steal from the rich, give to the poor mantra that travels with the fable. Sword of Sherwood Forest is little more than a chase to discover where an amulet came from, while on the run from Cushing. Eventually, a sham court trial lets the people speak up against their oppressors, yet Robin Hood stays in the background, a bit player in his own story.

The few jolts of comedy from Friar Tuck (Niall MacGinnis) appear forced and often disconnected from the rest. A multi-stage gag with an obstinate donkey sinks the pacing. Too often, that’s the case for all of Sword of Sherwood Forest, utterly mundane escapism that never challenges itself or the audience. Sometimes that works, but Sword of Sherwood Forest doesn’t serve much purpose given the numerous other adaptations.

Sword of Sherwood Forest Blu-ray screen shot

Video

Bitten by noise reduction, digital tools drop fidelity and leave Sword of Sherwood Forest unnaturally smoothed over. Any fidelity that escapes happens by luck. Mill Creek’s encode brings additional problems, particularly in shadows where artifacts linger. There’s no grain remaining in the image.

Although set in forests (obviously), color dries up, faded by age. Mostly, the earth tones left give the film a dull brown-ish hue. Costumes featuring more vivid reds still look pale. Damage to the source print is minimal in comparison, as time left the stock alone.

Overall, it’s reasonably bright. Contrast shows more life than anything else in this transfer. Black levels not so much, hence the noted compression. For Eastman Color from this period, it’s fairly typical to see deep blues seeping into the darkness. And still, Sword of Sherwood Forest has some depth, so this isn’t a total loss.

Audio

Well worn dialog bounces between flat and harsh depending on whether the line is dubbed or not. Either way, the DTS-HD track offers okay clarity, thankfully free from deterioration. Mundane fidelity rolls along the whole runtime.

Soundtrack cues sound better, fuller than usual in bass, and crisp enough in treble to avoid much criticism.

Extras

Nothing.

Sword of Sherwood Forest
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  • Extras
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Movie

Sword of Sherwood Forest doesn’t stand out against countless other Robin Hood adaptations, and lacks any distinct Hammer signature.

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