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  Miss Robin Hood The Element Of Crime
Year: 1952
Director: John Guillermin
Stars: Margaret Rutherford, Richard Hearne, James Robertson Justice, Dora Bryan, Michael Medwin, Peter Jones, Sid James, Eric Berry, Edward Lexy, Francis Rowe, Eunice Gayson, Russell Walters, Reg Varney, Susanne Gibbs, Francis De Wolff, Kenneth Connor
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Miss Robin Hood is a young crusader who takes from the rich to give to the poor, and the law hasn't caught up with her yet as she dives straight into another adventure. But only in the dreams of her creator, Henry Wrigley (Richard Hearne), who uses what he envisages in his sleep to write that week's instalment of her stories for the popular comic The Teenager. However, the comic is not as popular as it once was, or so the management at the publishers think, and they have plans to make cutbacks, so Wrigley's job is in jeopardy - not that he will have much to worry about that in the coming days as he gets mixed up in real life crime...

There was a trend that emerged pretty strongly in eighties movies and continued for decades afterwards where some working shlub would have his life transformed by the intrusion of some sparkling young woman who would set him on a path to more fun than he believed possible, along with a dose of danger for good measure, more pronounced in some efforts than others. By the end of the story, our downtrodden hero would have seen the brighter side of life and felt suitably improved, and all because of this woman who had taken it upon herself to make him her main project; you could do a lot with this idea, though mostly it was used for comedy.

Well, Miss Robin Hood was the British equivalent of that, from far back in the mists of time, just after screwball comedy which employed that plot had died out, although here the transformative young woman was actually played by the inimitable Margaret Rutherford, so it was clear from early on that romance was not on this film's mind. Nevertheless, she did serve the purpose, and when she introduces herself as Miss Heather Honey it is ostensibly to get an autograph, as although she is well out of the target audience's age range for Miss Robin Hood, she is a huge fan. We find out later it is because she delights in reading the comic to her youth club, but that's not why she is here at Wrigley's offices.

She is actually there due to her desire to commit a crime and plans to use the fictional heroine as her template. Her eccentricity is underlined by the fact that not only does she look after children, but birds as well, and arrives at her destinations with a flock of doves or the odd parrot or two, creatures she encourages with a handbag full of birdseed. Wrigley is perplexed but humours her until he cottons onto what she has in mind: stealing the secret formula for a whisky drink she claims was stolen from her ancestors. The head of this brewery is played by an actor on Rutherford's level of professional respect, James Robertson Justice, who in spite of his claim to Scottish roots has a seriously dodgy accent going on.

One thing leads to another and soon Wrigley is an unwitting accomplice in the theft of the formula - and ten thousand pounds (a lot of money in those days). If this comes across as hopelessly silly, then it is, but that's no reason to dismiss it as with the famous faces hoving into view, some for mere seconds, you can be assured you are in safe comic hands as for example Sid James turns up as Miss Honey's chauffeur, who spends his time knitting when he's not driving, or Dora Bryan as a barmaid who doesn't trust anyone who drinks ginger ale on licensed premises. Hearne would be better known on television as Mr Pastry, here in a straighter role but getting to indulge himself in a spot of daftness when he tries the formula and gets high on it. It's all very fluffy and inconsequential, but with Patrick Campbell contributing to the script and this array of talent in front of the camera, vintage Brit comedy fans are well catered for. Music by Temple Abady.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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