Join 3,561 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Katniss better watch her ass
October 28, 2013 5:39 PM   Subscribe

There's a number of things that make 1938's "The Adventures of Robin Hood" so awesome. There's the star power and charisma of Errol Flynn. There's Erich Wolfgang Korngold's great score. There's the glorious three-strip Technicolor process. And then, leaning in the corner there, is Howard Hill.

Howard Hill served as archery instructor on the film and performed the famous splitting of the arrow shot. More impressive than this was all the other arrow shots he made. Anytime you see a scene where someone is shot, that's Hill firing and hitting a three inch block of balsa wood (backed by 1/16 inch steel) hidden underneath the stuntman's costume. You can see the man in action (along with the requisite-for-the-period eye candy) in the short "Cavalcade of Archery". His excellence in the sport is gone into great length at his family company's website.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI (29 comments total) 48 users marked this as a favorite

 
That's insane, I always thought the arrows were on wires!

I remember TMC running a no-interruptions marathon of it back in the 80's or early 90's and just sitting slack jawed for hours watching the superb swordfights. That was what made cable TV at my cousin's house so extra special; the Robin Hood and Dune and Patton marathons.
posted by Brocktoon at 5:49 PM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


I shudder to think how many times I watched that movie as a kid. I naturally totally believed the shooting was real when I was little, but I started doubting it eventually and thinking the arrows had to be on wires--remember the archery competition where he shoots the arrow into the one already in the bullseye?
posted by hoyland at 6:05 PM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


YAY ARCHERY YAY
posted by The Whelk at 6:18 PM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


I loved that movie as a kid! So good.
posted by limeonaire at 6:20 PM on October 28, 2013


I found a copy of the arrow scene here -- that is BONKERS!
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 6:20 PM on October 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm confused, though; that guy didn't look like a fox at all. Was this some weird all-humans interpretation? Surely Friar Tuck is still a badger, at least?
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 6:21 PM on October 28, 2013 [25 favorites]


Maid Marian: "You speak treason!"
Robin Hood: "Yes... fluently."
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:22 PM on October 28, 2013 [14 favorites]


Well, if we're going to do this, then we can't neglect the insane climax to Throne of Blood, Kurosawa's take on Macbeth.
posted by nushustu at 6:23 PM on October 28, 2013 [5 favorites]


Loved this film -- took this waaaaaay to seriously as a kid...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 6:35 PM on October 28, 2013


Howard Hill-The making of TEMBO-part#1 as told by his nephew Jerry Hill. There doesn't seem to be a part 2.
posted by unliteral at 6:54 PM on October 28, 2013


Nobody was more surprised than I when I turned out to be pretty good at archery as a teen. But we only did it for a few weeks and then went back to yet more volleyball. Now I've got a bum shoulder and crappy eyesight, but at least we still have Howard Hill movies.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:54 PM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've always wondered how they did those archery special effects. I remember seeing somewhere that the arrows were already on the stuntperson, just folded over, so they could spring up when they "hit."

But actually shooting a real frigging arrow at someone? That's insane.

(Are they all CGI nowadays, in LOTR, etc?)
posted by gottabefunky at 6:57 PM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Fun fact - Eugene Pallette, the frog-voiced, frog-faced man guy played Friar Tuck, was one of the first doomsday preppers:
In 1946, convinced that there was going to be a "world blow-up" by atom bombs, Pallette received considerable publicity when he set up a "mountain fortress" on a 3,500-acre (14 km2) ranch near Imnaha, Oregon, as a hideaway from universal catastrophe. The "fortress" reportedly was stocked with a sizable herd of prize cattle, enormous supplies of food, and had its own canning plant and lumber mill.

When the "blow-up" he anticipated failed to materialize after two years, he began disposing of the Oregon ranch and returned to Los Angeles and his movie colony friends but, after working steadily from 1913 to 1946, never appeared in another movie.
posted by Iridic at 7:04 PM on October 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


So my dad is definitely a "Calvin's Dad" kinda guy, and he told me about Howard Hill once while we were watching Robin Hood about a decade ago. I listened quietly, as you do with older people, while he told me all about both the stunt men with balsa padding and the arrow splitting, all the while thinking "Cool story, bro".

That doesn't mean that I believe all the other crazy shit he told me now, but I might have to think about it next time...
posted by KGMoney at 7:17 PM on October 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


I know there's a science fiction novel where live bullets are fired at actors who have encased their brains in steel ...
posted by kyrademon at 7:18 PM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's not exactly a three-inch block of balsa wood; it's three inches thick. From the article:

These stuntmen were protected by a pad approximately 14" high and 12" wide. This pad was comprised of a felt backing, a 1/16 inch steel plate and three inches of balsa wood on the front to catch and hold the blunt arrows Howard used. Other than a few bruises from the impact of his hard hitting bows, no stuntmen were injured.

Still, impressive as hell.

And I sincerely believe that Saturday re-runs of this show, featuring Errol Flynn looking astonishingly sexy in those tights, were responsible for my love of archery. And probably a good portion of my sexuality, too.
posted by MrVisible at 7:54 PM on October 28, 2013


Great, great movie. One of the best, one of my Dad's favorites. It will forever remind me of him.

I read somewhere the stuntmen got like an extra $10 for taking an arrow.
posted by marxchivist at 8:07 PM on October 28, 2013


I know there's a science fiction novel where live bullets are fired at actors who have encased their brains in steel ...

John Varley. Steel Beach, I think.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:18 PM on October 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


They had a re-run at this in a local cinema a few years ago. The Technicolor is marvelous AND they ran it with the Daffy Duck cartoon that went with it.

One of my favorite movie-going experiences.

Somewhere on the DVD there is also a series of clips where Basil Rathbone keeps trying on various hats, and whoever cut it had impeccable timing because it just gets more and more funny as it goes on.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 9:15 PM on October 28, 2013


Oh, hey, it's Mr. Hill.

He was friends of friends of my parents.

Somewhere around here there is a picture of my cousin Patty, age eight or so, smiling while Howard Hill aims an arrow at a squash on her head. I guess they were out of apples.

It is a peculiar testimony to the power of college football in this state that I remember him being introduced to people as "he used to play for Auburn and he worked in the movies".

Fun fact: one of Hill's friends was Glenn Messer, a pioneer of early aviation who claimed to be the first man to fly a biplane through a barn. Upside down.

I'm too young to remember much about either fellow, unfortunately.

Manly men indeed.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:18 PM on October 28, 2013 [5 favorites]


Say what you want of Howard Hill, watching him kill that defenseless bull elephant, who had no bad blood with him, makes me lose all respect for anything else he did.
posted by lometogo at 1:24 AM on October 29, 2013


That's insane, I always thought the arrows were on wires!

That's nothing. Back in the early days of movie making, the effects of bullets hitting a wall (or anything else, actually) were done with live ammunition. For reference, watch The Public Enemy. The scene where Cagney and another actor are ambushed on the street by a crew with a tripod-mounted machine gun. A line of bullets rip into the wall behind Cagney as he runs for cover. Those are real bullets chasing him.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:01 AM on October 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


I love the look of Technicolor, maybe it's just because of the past decade of watching horribly desaturated movies but it's refreshing to see colors that vibrant.
posted by octothorpe at 5:07 AM on October 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm confused, though; that guy didn't look like a fox at all. Was this some weird all-humans interpretation? Surely Friar Tuck is still a badger, at least?

Not all-humans - looks like they kept the snake.
posted by ersatz at 5:45 AM on October 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


On the one hand, Mr. Hill was definately one heck of an archer (although ol' Errol in those tights? Hubba hubba!)

On the other hand, I have real problems with shooting game just for the thrill of it --- hunting for meat is one thing, but hunting as entertainment? If you look at his life-list of game bagged, it not only includes three (yeah, 3: not just 1) elephants, but there's things like sharks and eagles on there. Hunting to eat makes sense, even if the hunter also decides to mount the head to keep on a wall; but killing merely for excitement does not.
posted by easily confused at 5:45 AM on October 29, 2013


In case anyone is thinking, "Yeah, but they were blunt arrows, after all..."

Some neighbor kids - 7/8yo - were playing with a toy bow and arrows out back. Instead of calling their mom out to supervise (they were being stupid, natch), I asked if I could show them something. I took a box, layered it with carpet, and set it up on a stump, then took one of their blunt arrows and fired it into the box.... which shot off the stump and into the brick wall a few feet behind.

Their eyes went huge, and they quit playing with the bow.

Frankly, I was surprised that stunt worked on them so well.

Anyway, "blunt" arrows are about as blunt as bullets.
posted by IAmBroom at 6:02 AM on October 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


That Flynn/Rathbone swordfight in Robin Hood? Total ovary-clencher. I wonder how many fellas in 1938 got a little extra smoochin' after that scene.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:13 AM on October 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


John Varley. Steel Beach, I think.

I was going to say _The Golden Globe_, because acting, but it's definitely one of the Eight Worlds novels.

I hope I live long enough to see a kids' science show titled What The Fuck?.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:33 AM on October 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


You'll shoot yer eye out, kid.
posted by stenseng at 12:07 PM on October 29, 2013


« Older From albums to drummers to hats, a conclusive guid...  |  The Daily Life of a Grandma an... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments