Monday, 12 December 2016

Robin and the Seven Hoods (1964)

This Rat Pack musical updates to the Robin Hood legend to Chicago in the 1920s.  The city's top mob boss has just been murdered, and a new man - one Guy Gisborne (Peter Falk) has seized control.  Only one crew - headed by Robbo (Frank Sinatra) refuses to tow the line.  The two men are soon engaged in a fierce battle: a confrontation that will become substantially complicated by two related factors.  First, the arrival in town of the former boss's daughter, and second, an off-hand act of charity on Robbo's part that has unexpectedly far-reaching ramifications.

I've noted before that I believe a musical needs catchy songs to really work, and despite its potent cast (Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr and Bing Crosby all also star) this is one area where Robin and the Seven Hoods conspicuously falls down.  In my opinion, only one song - Crosby's "Mr Booze" is at all likely to stick in your memory.  Well, that and the rather bizarre experience that is watching Peter Falk try to sing.

Script-wise, I'm also not really a fan.  For one thing, the story plays a bit too loose with some of the characters of the Robin Hood legends for my tastes; though I will admit that the final pay-off for those licenses is almost worth it.  The bigger problem, however, is that it's simply a bit too complacent in its pacing and its plotting.  Much like the rather half-hearted soundtrack, it feels like the writers just assumed the charisma and talent of the cast would carry the film.

Charisma and talent can get you a long way, but not even Crosby and the Rat Pack can pull off the kind of con job necessary to make this film look like a winner.

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