ROBIN HOOD AND THE PIRATES. Finanziaria Cinematografica Italiana, 1960,as Robin Hood e i pirati; Embassy Pictures, US, 1964. Lex Barker, Jocelyn Lane, Rossanna Rory, Mario Scaccia, Edith Peters, Walter Barnes. Written by Edoardo Anton and Leo Bomba. Directed by Giorgio Simonelli.

   My DVD of this seems to be missing the first 10 minutes or so, where Robin is on his way to or from the Crusades, gets kidnapped by pirates and held for ransom. It opens, in obvious homage to The Tempest, with the ship in a violent storm and Robin washed overboard to land on the beach… close to a sign that says SHERWOOD COUNTY (in Italian) and so he’s home.

   Well that sure saved a lot of film.

   But as usual in these things, Robin Hood’s estate has been taken over by usurpers (Scaccia and Lane) and all his friends are locked up, sending Robin fleeing into the woods. The parallels with King Lear are obvious, but there are no woods here because this was filmed on the Mediterranean coast, which looks as much like Nottinghamshire as Sicily looks like Picadilly Circus.

   Fortunately, the Pirates were washed ashore too, along with some Saracen women, led by Edith Peters, who speaks with a southern drawl and sings in her own inimitable style when they form an impromptu singing group —

Edith Peters (April 14, 1926 – October 28, 2000) Con Lino Patruno rievocano il grande “Satchmo” Dai tempi della …

   –and Robin Hood and the pirates and the Saracen Supremes all team up to… well write the rest yourself.

   The discerning reader has discerned from reading so far that Robin Hood and the Pirates is no ordinary film. It isn’t actually bad enough to be funny, but it offers a cheerful disregard for Reality and Legend I found consistently amusing, as Barker and the baddies chase each other around Sherwood-on-the-Beach and indulge in spirited, if not terribly proficient, swordplay.

   And that’s my qualified recommendation: amusing if you’re in the mood. As I watched it though, I got to thinking how many notable heroes Lex Barker’s career encompassed. Besides Tarzan and Robin Hood, he was at various times: Mr. Lana Turner, Old Shatterhand, Mr. Arlene Dahl, Mangas Coloradas, and Natty Bumpo. Sounds like quite a life.