If John Barry's score for Robin and Marian -- here given its first commercial recording as part of Silva Screen Records America's series of the composer's works as newly recorded by the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Nic Raine -- is a minor effort, it's the fault of the screenwriter and director. James Goldman and Richard Lester were both interested in debunking period pieces, but Goldman, author of The Lion in Winter, wanted to do it in a serious, realistic way, while Lester, director of The Three Musketeers, opted for romance and irreverence. Robin and Marian, originally called The Death of Robin Hood, was a botched compromise of these conflicting visions. Michel Legrand, who had scored The Three Musketeers, was hired to write the music, but his light touch did not suit Goldman, and he was replaced by Barry, who had scored The Lion in Winter. By then, the music had to be written in two weeks. Barry split the difference in the film's style, alternating portentous cues for the action sequences with no less than three lush love themes for the doomed affair of Robin Hood and Maid Marian. It didn't entirely work, and was in turn touched up by Richard Shores, who lightened it up a little. Still, if a score helps set a mood, it's hard to do so for a film with an uncertain viewpoint. (An original soundtrack album [Sherwood Records, PRO-4345] was pressed up for promotional purposes only; it has since been bootlegged.) Heard without the film, the music has charms, especially the love themes, and the alternating Barry and Shores arrangements of "The Ride to Sherwood/The Ride to Nottingham" starkly reveal Shores' trivializing intentions. But, inevitably, it still isn't one of Barry's better scores.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
|Robin and Marian, film score|