The Cloaking Device

I must have seen Errol Flynn’s The Adventures of Robin Hood 35 or 40 times in my life, including, I think, nine times on the big screen in all its 35mm Technicolor glory. Despite those many viewings, I never realized something that Mary, my practical better half, pointed out when she walked into the room at a particular moment.

The whole point of the plot of the picture is that King Richard is off fighting the crusades and then is taken hostage and held for ransom in the Holy Land, leaving his brother Prince John free to pillage his way through the Saxon England countryside on behalf of the Normans, but mostly for himself.

John’s actions force the Saxon Sir Robin of Locksley to take violent retribution on behalf of his people. But unbeknownst to Prince John, King Richard somehow gets himself freed and sneaks back into England in disguise with, I guess—although it’s never explained—his personal staff or key knights or whatever they are by his side.

What Mary opined when seeing incognito King Richard and his knights sitting around a table at an inn trying to be unobtrusive was, “You’d think they could come up with better disguises than Snuggies in primary colors.” Son of a gun, I realized, she’s right. These aren’t just garden-variety Snuggies; they’re jewel-tone Snuggies that any 21st century couch potato would be proud to sport.

OK fellas, look, do NOT attract attention to yourselves.

I always had a whole other problem that Richard and his boys wore their chain-mail unis under the Snuggies than to stop and think about the colors of the Snuggies themselves. It had to be mighty uncomfortable living in that chain mail (including full head-pieces) and you’d also think the metal made a fair amount of racket for people trying not to attract attention to themselves. With their ears covered in metal, weren’t they going around shouting, “What? WHAT??” But then, every time I watch Robin Hood I’m annoyed that when Richard and his knights whip off their Snuggies to reveal white tunics emblazoned with red crosses, they preen and pose hands on hips to make sure the Saxon rabble are suitably impressed. As in, “Behold! Are we not awesome?!”

In case you need any last-minute gift ideas this holiday season, why not dress your significant other like Ian Hunter’s King Richard the Lion-Heart in a jewel-tone Snuggie? Better yet, save the idea for next Halloween when your entire family can trick-or-treat as Richard and his entourage. On November 1, your Halloween costume automatically converts back into fashionable loungewear, if not a subtle disguise.

6 comments

  1. A significant part of the Robin Hood narrative is Richard’s ransom. As for entering the country unannounced, reminds me to something going on in the United States since the Truman administration. Should have been even easier then than it is now.

    1. I just can’t remember, Barry, if it’s ever explained how Richard got sprung. I guess the “how” isn’t important; the important thing is he’s here at plot point 2 and pushes the story toward its conclusion.

  2. Hi, Robert! Your comments about the royal snuggies made me laugh, and I sorely needed that today. Thank you for that. I really hadn’t noticed the snuggies either until you just wrote about it, so your wife is very observant.

    As many times as I’ve seen this movie, you’d think I’d have noticed, but no…

    Merry Christmas and happy holidays to you and your family!

  3. Well, Robert, how about the way Robin treats the poor folk in the film? You know, as his men are feasting on wine and deer legs at their banquet in Sherwood Forest he takes Maid Marian on a quick tour to show her how well he treats the common poor people. They smile sheepishly at him. “Bless you, Robin Hood,” one of them says with an appreciative look. “You’re welcome, mother,” he replies or words to that effect.

    But I always thought if this Robin Hood is such a good guy why doesn’t he invite the poor he “cares” so much about to the feast with Friar Tuck, Little John and the all the others who are having a great, boisterous time? Instead they’re tucked away in a dark, quiet part of the forest apparently so grateful that he gives them a quick visit and doesn’t beat them, unlike the Normans.

    I know that Marian is duly impressed by the Sherwood Forest bandit in this sequence (it’s the turning point in her relationship with him) but I always thought, “Ah, come on, Robin, can’t you do better than that?”

    Well, something to think about, Robert, as I wish you Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

    1. You’re right, Tom! It’s so funny how we consume these old pictures, like a train ride over familiar tracks, and it takes someone with a different perspective to point out what you’re missing. I always thought that sequence in the “dark forest” was odd but that’s the reason: He’s got these people sequestered like the dorky kids that are all herded into a group by the frat brothers in Animal House. I guess even the Saxons had a class system. Thanks for the seasons greetings, Tom. I’ve missed hearing from you. Merry Christmas and a very happy 2019!

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