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Monday, 14 April 2014

We're Men! MANLY Men!

Dear friends,

I do not know if you have a movie that got stuck to your brain the moment you first saw it when you were a wee child, but I have that! I have Robin Hood: Men In Tights! I still have no ideea how come my parents let me watch this as it has light nudity and violence + references to female/male body parts, but I guess children back then were not like nowadays, so very aware of their sexuality, as I remember none of those parts bothering me or me asking anyone about it. I just enjoyed the singing and the comedy itself. Funny part is that each time I find something new about this movie when I watch it :) and as one grows, one sees different things and starts to understand more.
Mel Brooks - if you know him not, I have no ideea in what hole you have been living in! - is a brilliant actor/writer/producer/director. Melvin James Kaminsky was born on June 28th, 1926 in Brooklyn, New York, to Russian Jewish immigrants. His father died when Mel was twelve years old, and he has said that his angry humor stems from that event. As a young boy, he learned how to play the drums. After brief education, he served in WWII, and afterwards got a job playing the drums at nightclubs in the Catskills. Brooks eventually started a comedy act and also worked in radio and as Master Entertainer at Grossinger's Resort before going to television. He frequently likes to cast himself in his movies - Robin Hood: Men In Tights is no exception as he plays Rabbi Tuckman. Loves the line: "we have much to do and less time to do it in" - which appears in RH also ;)  His films usually contain many Jewish references and jokes.
Oh! Now, Cary Elwes... I had a crush with him when I was small! The man had the most amazing perfect blue eyes combined with golden hair. It was like instant meltdown! As Robin Hood he was more than fitting and I bet every girl was wishing she would be Maid Marian. Born and raised in London he has an amazing British accent which he does not fail to mention during the movie:
Prince John: And why should the people listen to you?
Robin Hood: Because, unlike some other Robin Hoods, I can speak with an English accent.
[referring to the then recent blockbuster Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, in which Kevin Costner played the role with an American accent
***
Which brings me to a lovely piece of TRIVIA: The gag about Robin being able to speak with an English accent is a reference to Kevin Costner's performance in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991). Unfortunately viewers who saw both movies in a dubbed version couldn't get this gag. For the German dubbed version the gag was changed to: "because I - unlike some other Robin Hood - do not cost the producers 5 million". The German word "kosten" (cost) was also pronounced to sound a little bit like Costner. In the French (France) and Italian (Italy) dubbed versions, it is translated as, "Because unlike other Robin Hoods, I do not dance with the wolves", referring to another Kevin Costner movie Dances with Wolves (1990). In Quebec, the translation becomes "Because unlike other Robin Hoods, I accept to wear tights," which refers to the fact that Costner didn't wear tights in the 1991 movie. In the Hungarian version, he says "Because unlike Kevin Costner, I have a shapely bottom," a reference to the infamous fact that Costner used a body double in the nude scene. 
Patrick Stewart plays King Richard talking in a thick Scottish accent, a reference to Sean Connery's performance in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991). Some critics found Connery's accent inappropriate for the role, since King Richard would not have spoken with a Scottish burr (thus providing comedic fodder for Mel Brooks). Technically, an English accent would have been no more appropriate than Sean Connery's Scottish accent and a French accent would have been best for Richard (and any other nobles of the time, possibly including Robin), as "English" did not yet exist as a language and English nobles spoke Anglo-Norman, a dialect of Old French, while the common folk spoke Old-English, an Anglo-Frisian tongue that has more in common with Old Norse than with Modern English.
Now about the movie... well... it is basically a mockup of all the previous Robin Hood movies / TV shows and series, but most of all of  Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, in which Kevin Costner played the main part.
The cast of the movie is brilliantly selected and they play their parts as if their own life would depend on it! Cary Elwes - who, when he was young, was the spitting image of Errol Flynn - plays a dashing and very getleman-like Robin Hood. His facial expressions are brilliant and help underline Mel Brooks lines. Amy Yasbeck, who plays Marian, is a perfect mate for this Robin. She's beautiful and sincere, though there is absolutely nothing in the upstairs of her pretty little head... She manages though, by chance, to overhear the conversation between the Sheriff of Rottingham (not Nottingham!) and the hires killers - hence saving later on her love... She must be one of the most proactive Maid Marian's on screen as she decides to give herself to Sheriff of Rottingham in order to save Robin from hanging.
I always loved the sountrack of the movie and the combination of dancing + singing. From the beginning we are introduced into the scene by a merry band of hip-hop singers telling us about the Sherwood forest, Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Rottingham. Even the name makes me laugh... Sheriff of Rottingham is an insane image of a verbaly disabled dark haired lad who is madly in love with Maid Marian, even though he is never able to express himself. He is quite a turn off, considering the true Sheriff of Nottingham from the Prince of Thieves - we are talking about Alan Rickman there! You can't make fun of Alan Rickman! He is the most adorable villain that you love to hate :) Oh! But Sheriff of Rottingham is not able to say a full sentence without twisting and turning the words making the phrase sound completely Riddiculous! (see what I did there?! ;) )
Prince John: Save me, save me! Hurt them, hurt them!
Sheriff of Rottingham: Right! Save them, save them, hurt you, hurt you! I've got it! 
The end of the movie completes the circle by having another part of hip-hop dance + singing, making funny refferences to a Robin Hood 2 movie - as the trend back then, a trend that started growing, was to have sequels to each movie. 
The movie itself is colorful and vivid with a lot of refferences to other movies before it + Mel Brooks movies, of course! After watching it so many times, I could do the voice-overs as I remember 99.99% of it, even though that was never my wish. It just sticks to your brain... the songs, the lyrics, the images... and then you end up using them and singing along. There are refferences including to the Mary Poppins with Julie Andrews as Maid Marian, after having a bathtub moment, takes a blue bird on her finger while she is singing. There are also moments in which you cannot but help to laugh out loud, like when Prince John asks Latrine why she changed her name into that and what was before - just so you know, before she was named Shit Hole + when King Richard comes back and states that from that moment, in England, all latrines will be named John's ;))) (which is actually a true fact, as they are indeed called John's, or you might as well just say that you wish to go to the loo).
For me it is a brilliant parody - no matter what the other people say! - and it will always get a thumbs up from me. It you did not watch it when you were small and you are not the same generation as I am - and maybe even older - you might not get all the jokes. What do kids nowadays know about Home Alone or about Reebok Pumps?! Do they even know of Monty Python?! If it would be released today it may even be offensive for some people... just think about it... men dressing in women clothing for the full length of the movie - don't tell me that tights/pantyhose are manly!
The main point of the movie though, I think, is to make fun of the Robin Hood movie released just a few years before: Prince of Thieves - Kevin Costner being very young and handsome there, but not the exact version of a British Robin Hood that we would like. Some points of the movie actually stab the previous RH version - where in Prince of Thieves Little John almost drowned in a foot of water, by panicking and not putting his legs straight to reach the bottom of the river, in Man in Tights Little John is faking to drown in an inch of water... a small string of water that you can just walk over! As much as Kevin Costner deserves the blame for making Prince of Thieves terrible, Cary Elwes deserves that much credit for making Men in Tights great.
***
I simply loved the end fighting scene between the Sheriff of Rottingham and Robin Hood! It was the most perfect fencing class ever, and I dare to believe that the 2 of them even took fencing lessons for the part. I surely loved it more than the fighting scene from Prince of Thieves where the protagonists just destroy the entire room - throwing benches, chairs and whatever prop that was near them at eachother. Not to mention the bow shooting skills! Oh... they are brilliant! In the Prince of Thieves you can see Kevin Costner sending 2 arrows at once. Well, in Man in Tights Robin managed to send 6 arrows at once ;)
Totally worth mentioning in Man in Tights is the awesome Will Scarlett O’Hara (“We’re from Georgia”) that is extremely handy with the knives. He is able to completely destroy the arrow that Robin shoots straight through his heart just by the speed of his hands completed with knives ;) Obvious name connection with Gone With The Wind - and Will here really pretty but not a bit red haired. Extremely adorable and handy in hard moment, so as Little John is.
Now the crusades somehow are also shown in the movie, as the action begins in Jerusalem, with Robin escaping the prison with the help of the Painted Man, and end up with the reappearence of King Richard - played by awesome Patrick Steward. He has a cameo scene at Robin and Marian's wedding, just as Sean Connery had one in Prince of Thieves. Not a lot of picking on that, escept the fact that instead of having a kiss in the style of "Peck on the cheeck" the King actually provides Marian a huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge kiss on the mouth.
***
Overall this is a movie that I will always love with all my heart - maybe it is because it is a movie of my childhood, maybe it is because it make me laugh so much... who can tell?! I really and sincerely reccomend it - especially if you are my age or older. It is worth having a bit of fun ;) And you may want to try The Princess Bride also - I may even do a review on it as well, would you like that? :)

Yours truly,
A LadyBug Who Loves Robin Hood's Story :)