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Older, Wiser Robin and Marian

July 29, 1993|ROBERT MARSH

It is rare indeed when a film can achieve high levels of artistic merit yet manage to remain an unknown. "Robin and Marian" is one such jewel that has sustained a status of a perennial sleeper since 1976.

It stars Sean Connery as a middle-aged Robin Hood who returns to Sherwood Forest after fighting in the Crusades. Tired of fighting and disgusted with the senseless killing, he wishes nothing more than to settle down in his beloved forest and live a quiet life with Maid Marian. But that will take some doing.

For starters, Marian (played expertly by the late Audrey Hepburn) has become a nun in the intervening years. Nunhood, however, doesn't really suit her; she's just a bit too feisty and prone to cussing.

Marian's wistful beauty and Connery's ruggedness complement each other, and the two have an easy familiarity about them. One gets the feeling these two have loved each other all their lives. For the romantics, their scenes together will produce a lump in the throat. For the non-romantics . . . a lump in the throat.

But "Robin and Marian" is also a great action piece. Robin arrives back in Sherwood just in time to prevent the Sheriff of Nottingham (Robert Shaw) from arresting Marian, setting in motion an escalating conflict. And when the peasants hear Robin is back, they go to him for help against the king.

The acting in "Robin and Marian" is stunning: Richard Harris makes the most of his few minutes of screen time as Richard the Lionheart, a king capable of monstrous deeds and fickle mood swings. And Nicol Williamson breathes a sympathetic dimension into the character of Little John.

James Goldman's script is razor-sharp, treating all characters, major and minor, with intelligence and compassion.

The movie is shot in subdued hues, making the film more of a motion painting than picture. It is quite simply a film that must be seen--and once seen, treasured.

"Robin and Marian" (1976), directed by Richard Lester. 112 minutes. Rated PG.

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