Seven versions of 'Robin Hood'

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The Independent Culture

As Russell Crowe takes on the legendary character Robin Hood this week, he follows a legacy of actors who wore the same costume of tights in film and television productions - from Douglas Fairbanks to Kevin Costner to Cary Elwes' send-up and Disney's animated fox.

Dozens of versions precede Ridley Scott's historical depiction of the tale, as far back as 1912 and also a 2003 videogame, Robin Hood: Defender of the Crown. Some are comedies and others are campy, but most reflect an era's view of 13th century England, including the current film which created a strong, spirited Maid Marian.

As a hero, Robin Hood's appeal is timeless. He is fearless, skilled, and his code of honor fights the corrupt to assist the poor. Here is a sampling of the epic tales of Robin Hood's adventures, wars and romance:

1. Robin Hood (1922)
Among medieval pageantry, this Robin Hood is the dashing Earl of Huntingdon, portrayed by the acrobatic Douglas Fairbanks, who defends King Richard against his tyrant brother Prince John. Outlaw champion of the oppressed, he set things straight with swashbuckling derring-do. Directed by Allan Dwan ( The Three Musketeers).

2. The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
Starring Errol Flynn as Sir Robin of Locksley who defends the downtrodden Saxons against the oppressive Normans, "The Best Loved Bandit of All Time!" and his band of "Merry Men" rob the rich and help the poor. Also stars Olivia DeHavilland as Marian, Claude Rains, and Basil Rathbone. Directed by Michael Curtiz ( Casablanca).

3. The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men (1952)
When Robin Hood's father is murdered by the Prince's henchmen, Robin gathers a band of men to avenge his death. Stars Peter Finch as the Sheriff of Nottingham and Richard Todd as Robin ( Dorian Gray, Dr. Who).

4. Robin Hood (1973)
Meet Robin Hood and his Merry Menagerie! Disney's kid-friendly animated story about an outlaw with a heart, portrays the characters as talking animals, and Robin played by a fox. Peter Ustinov is the voice of King Richard and Terry-Thomas is Sir Hiss.

5. Robin and Marian (1976)
With Sean Connery as Robin and Audrey Hepburn as Marian, this romantic adventure about the famous couple of Sherwood Forest shows an older Hood returning from the Crusades to woo the Maid. Also stars Richard Harris as Richard the Lionhearted. Directed by Richard Lester ( A Hard Day's Night, Help, The Four Musketeers).

6. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)
When Robin (Kevin Costner) witnesses the Sheriff's tyranny, he breaks the law to uphold justice - for the good of all men and the love of a woman. Also features Morgan Freeman, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Christian Slater, and Alan Rickman. Directed by Kevin Reynolds ( Waterworld, The Count of Monte Cristo, Tristan and Isolde).

7. Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993)
Mel Brooks' spoof features Cary Elwes as Robin and a comic cast: Dom DeLuise, Patrick Stewart, singer Isaac Hayes, and comedian Tracey Ullman. "Find out where Robin Hood put his Little John, what made Will Scarlet, and what did Friar Tuck into his tights that Maid Marion quiver?"