Import Corner: Robin Hood at Hammer (Powerhouse/Indicator) Blu-ray Review + 1080p Screenshots + Packaging Shots

Robin Hood at Hammer collects three Robin Hood films together along with some very worthwhile special features in this beautiful release.

Studio: Powerhouse/Indicator
Release Date: December 26th, 1960 (theatrical) (Sword of Sherwood Forest) / Decmeber 15th, 1967 (theatrical) (A Challenge for Robin Hood) / September 12th, 2022 (blu-ray)
Run Time: 1 hour 19 minutes 56 seconds (Sword of Sherwood Forest) / 1 hour 36 minutes 30 seconds (A Challenge for Robin Hood)
Region Code: B (locked)
Picture: 1080p (2.35:1 aspect ratio) (Sword of Sherwood Forest) / 1080p (1.66:1 aspect ratio) (A Challenge for Robin Hood)
Sound: English LPCM 1.0 (both films)
Subtitles: English SDH (both films)
Slipcover: Yes (hard box)
Digital Copy: No
Starring: Richard Greene, Peter Cushing, Niall MacGinnis, Richard Pasco, Jack Gwillim, Sarah Branch (Sword of Sherwood Forest) / Barrie Ingham, James Hayter, Leon Greene, Peter Blythe, Gay Hamilton, Alfie Bass (A Challenge for Robin Hood)
Written by Alan Hackney (Sword of Sherwood Forest) / Peter Bryan (A Challenge for Robin Hood)
Directed by Terence Fisher  (Sword of Sherwood Forest) / C.M. Pennington-Richards (A Challenge for Robin Hood)
Rating: BBFC: U (contains mild violence) (Sword of Sherwood Forest) / BBFC: PG (contains mild violence and threat)




What's It About?

For 1960’s SWORD OF SHERWOOD FOREST, Richard Greene (THE BLOOD OF FU MANCHU, THE CASTLE OF FU MANCHU) reprises the role he made famous in the classic television series The Adventures of Robin Hood. Directed by Terence Fisher (THE GORGON, THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN), and starring Peter Cushing (THE DEVIL'S MEN, CORRUPTION) as the dastardly Sheriff of Nottingham, the film sees Robin Hood thwart a plot to assassinate the Archbishop of Canterbury (Jack Gwillm, JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS, THE CURSE OF THE MUMMY'S TOMB). The film also boasts an uncredited early role for Oliver Reed (THE SYSTEM, THE DAMNED).

In 1967’s A CHALLENGE FOR ROBIN HOOD, Barrie Ingham (The Day of the Jackal) dons the Lincoln green as he and his merrie men hide out in Sherwood Forest after his cousin (Peter Blythe, FRANKENSTEIN CREATED WOMAN) frames him for murder. This action-packed adventure features acting support from Gay Hamilton (BARRY LYNDON, The Duellists) and Leon Greene (ADVENTURES OF A PRIVATE EYE, Adventures of a Plumber’s Mate).


Presented in the film's original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, SWORD OF SHERWOOD FOREST looks pretty good. This is a pretty film-like picture with film grain being present throughout the entire film. Dpeth to the picture is reasonable. Colors look good and accurate and skin tones look healthy. While the film would have benefited by a new scan, this transfer is still pretty good. 

Presented in the film's original aspect ratio of 1.66:1, A CHALLEGE FOR ROBIN HOOD looks really good. I think it looks better than SWORD OF SHERWOOD FOREST. Colors in the film really pop off the screen with the greens of the forest looking particularly strong. Skin tones look wonderful and film grain is intact. I am very happy with the look of this transfer.


Disc 1: Sword of Sherwood Forest

Audio Commentary with Barry Forshaw and Kim Newman
Interview with Terence Fisher (1h 19 mins, HD, 2.35:1) This interview runs for the entire length of the film and acts like a non-screen-specific audio commentary. It covers Fisher's career and is pretty enjoyable. The sound isn't the greatest, but that is ok. There is a warning that plays before the interview that warns us about the quality of the sound.
The BEHP Interview with Sidney Cole (1h 19m, HD, 2.35:1) This too, like the Terence Fisher interview, plays over the film as a non-screen-specific audio commentary. The audio is much better this time around and the interviewer asks better questions while Cole is very open about his life and career.
Play it Again: Richard Greene (22m 59s, SD, 1.33:1) I am not British, so I have no idea what this show is. I looked it up online and even doesn't really give me too much information. There is a review on the site that says that this was an interview show where celebrities pick out their favorite scenes from their films and they talk about them. This is a pretty good interview with lots of behind-the-scenes stories.  
Dennis Lotis: Merry Memories (3m 52s, HD, 1.78:1) This is a very short interview that should have been much longer. Lotis gives us a few quick stories. I wish there was more. 
Pauline Wise: All in a Quiver (6m 15s, HD, 1.78:1) She started out as a script supervisor. She was working on The Old Dark House when she got the call to go to the set of SWORD OF SHERWOOD FOREST which was shooting over in Ireland. This was the first film she did as the sole script supervisor.
Jonathan Rigby: Riding Through the Glen (28m 48s, HD, 1.78:1) This was not the first Robin Hood film as they had made one, MEN OF SHERWOOD FOREST a few before SWORDS. MEN was the first color film that Hammer made. There was also a TV show that ran for 143 episodes. The show was a huge hit in the UK, but it was also a hit in the US. The film was supposed to feature Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, but that wasn't to be. Cushing took the part of the Sheriff of Nottingham. Lee went to Europe to make THE HANDS OF ORLAC. The film, which opened on a double bill with VISA TO CANTON, where it didn't do as well as Columbia and Hammer had hoped. The outdoor scenes were shot Powerscourt Estate, a location that was used later on by Stanley Kubrick for BARRY LYNDON and John Boorman for EXCALIBUR. Many more tidbits about the making of the film are to be found in this wonderful interview.
A Hero"s Fanfare: Huckvale on Hoddinott (22m 40s, HD, 1.78:1) David Huckvale gives us a history of SWORD OF SHERWOOD FOREST composer, Alun Hoddinott. He breaks down some of the musical choices in the film as well as the technics that Hoddinott used in his music.
Isolated Music and Effects Track (1h 19m, HD, 2.35:1) This is the film without any dialogue. Pretty self explanitory.
Theatrical Trailer (1m 53s, HD, 2.00:1)
Image Gallery (64 images)

Disc 2: A Challenge for Robin Hood

Audio Commentary with Kevin Lyons and Jonathan Rigby
The John Player Lecture: The Hammer Forum (1h 36,, HD, 1.66:1) This is an interview that runs the length of the film. Kind of like a non-screen-specific audio commentary. We are given a warning at the beginning at the start that this was recorded for archival purposes only and was not meant for commercial use, so the audio isn't the best. This covers more of the whole of Hammer and isn't just about one thing. The audio is ok at best.
The BEHP Interview with C M Pennington-Richards (1h 36m, HD, 1.66:1) This is another interview that is played over the film like a non-screen-specific audio commentary. Pennington-Richards covers his entire career in a nice, laid back interview.
John Gugolka: An Excuse for Action (11m 13s, HD, 1.78:1) Got started acting at a young age. Loved working on A CHALLENGE FOR ROBIN HOOD. He would ride the horses when he was shooting. Says that the film's director was a quiet man who trusted his actors. He would wander around the set and look at how the special effects were made and performed. The film was shot over the span of six weeks. Hammer films were shot on low budgets and very quickly. 
Kim Newman: Sherwood on Screen (24m 44s, HD, 1.78:1) Robin Hood was originally a trickster like Puck from A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM. It wasn't until the 1800's that this changed. There were a bunch of smaller, silent films before the 1922 Douglas Fairbanks' starring ROBIN HOOD which brought the character into the mainstream. It was so popular that no one made another Robin Hood film until 1938's THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD. Outside of some quickies, there was another big Robin Hood film until THE STORY OF ROBIN HOOD AND HIS MERRIE MEN which is a film that Disney had to make because they couldn't use the money they had made in Britain in any other country. It is also the first Robin Hood film made in the UK. There was a Robin Hood show that aired in the UK during the late 50s. The star of that show, Richard Greene, would go on to star in THE SWORD OF SHERWOOD FOREST. For whatever reason, Hammer did not bring Greene back for A CHALLENGE FOR ROBIN HOOD. That film was also the last "in tights" Robin Hood film. The films made after this one were "more realistic". Newman covers so much more in this outstanding interview.
Songs from the Hood: Huckvale on Hughes (11m 23s, HD, 1.78:1) Huckvale breaks down the different themes used in the film. This is pretty interesting.
Theatrical Trailer (1m 57s, HD, 1.66:1) I love older trailers. There was such an excitement around every film that was released. Not like it is today, where the trailer is just seen as advertisement and there isn't any excitement around them anymore. Watch some of these older trailers and then watch the ones we get today and you'll see what I am talking about. 
Image Gallery (127 images)

Robin Hood Junior (1h 45s, HD, 1.33:1) This is a weird film. Robin Hood and his Merrie Men are all played by children as is Maid Marian. The rest of the cast are adults. I was hoping that this was going to be like Bugsy Malone, a 1976 film where all of the characters were played by children. It was a gangster film where the characters' Tommy guns shot marshmallows instead of bullets. I knew that this film wouldn't be exactly like that but I had hopes that this would be a children's Robin Hood. It is but not the way I thought it would be. It is still entertaining and doesn't overstay its welcome. 

        -Play with audio commentary with Vic Pratt

Needless to say but the packaging here is gorgeous. The outer box is a hard box that many companies like Arrow Video and 88 Films have been using for their Limited Editions. The sky blue coloring of this outer box gives the release a unique look. The front cover of the outer box features a portion of the SWORD OF SHERWOOD FOREST poster. The back of the box lists all of the special features. There is a "U" card that fits over the bottom of the box (not like a slipcover but more like a "J" card) and this features the titles of the two films in this set on the front and cast and crew listings, aspect ratio, runtime, as well as the number out of 5,000 this edition is.

Inside the hard box is a Criterion-style blu-ray case that features reversible artwork with one side featuring the SWORD OF SHERWOOD FOREST poster while the other side features the A CHALLENGE FOR ROBIN HOOD poster. There is also an 80-page booklet that features "a new essay by Frank Collins, an article on Richard Greene, archival materials, contemporary reviews, and film credits". Also included is a double-sided poster featuring poster art for each film on their respective sides. The discs feature artwork from each film's poster.

One thing that bothers me a little bit is the booklet. The booklet is slightly wider than the box it comes in and thus it sticks out ever so slightly from the box. Powerhouse has been doing these Limited Editions for years now, and so have other companies. These other companies have their booklets measured out to be even with the box they come in. You would think that Powerhouse would too. This also could be a mistake that was made with this release too. I am not trying to shit on Powerhouse or any of the people who work on these releases. I am sure that all the work that goes into these releases is long and hard at times and I would never shit on them for their work. It is something that I noticed and I figured that I would point it out so that people know before they buy. 

Each disc in this set is REGION B (locked)


Both of the Robin Hood films in this collection are fun and worthy of at least a look. I actually prefer these films over the American THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD. The Powerhouse/Indicator blu-ray set is really nice. Both films look great and the audio is no slouch either. Obviously, the special features on each disc are amazing and you should spend some time with them. You will not regret it. I would recommend this set. It's a lot of fun.






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