(Welcome to The Movies That Made Star Wars, a series where we explore the films and television properties that inspired George Lucas’s iconic universe. In this edition: The classic adventure film The Adventures of Robin Hood.)

In The Making of Star Wars, Martin Scorsese talked about George Lucas and his work on Star Wars. “I remember George was writing Star Wars at the time. He had all these books with him, like Isaac Asimov’s Guide to the Bible, and he was envisioning this fantasy epic. He did explain that he wanted to tap into the collective unconscious of fairy tales. And he screened certain movies, like…Michael Curtiz’s Robin Hood [1938].”

Revisiting the classic film and thinking about it in the context of Star Wars, it’s no wonder George Lucas would have been screening it during the lead-up to the making of his original groundbreaking film. The film is, perhaps, the first, best distillation of the Robin Hood myths and the set the tone for all future iterations of the character. This codified the myth into the popular culture and was one of the highest grossing films of 1938. Interestingly enough, James Cagney was originally cast to play the titular character before walking off the set. He was replaced by relative newcomer Errol Flynn. It was Flynn’s casting that really defined the movie for generations and it’s difficult to imagine anyone else in the role, let alone Cagney.

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