Musical Monday: Robin and the 7 Hoods (1964)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
Robin and the 7 Hoods (1964) – Musical #329

Warner Bros.

Gordon Douglas

Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Bing Crosby, Edward G. Robinson (uncredited), Peter Falk, Allen Jenkins, Jack La Rue, Victor Buono, Phillip Crosby, Toni Basil (uncredited), Hans Conried (uncredited), Tony Randall (uncredited), Sig Ruman (uncredited)

Set in Chicago during the 1920s, two rival gangs compete for control of the city. Guy Gisborne (Falk) wants all the hoods in town to pay him for protection. His rival, Robbo (Sinatra) with his partners, Little John (Martin) and Will (Davis), get the reputation of robbing from the rich and giving to the poor when he donates money from Marian (Rush), the daughter of a deceased gang boss.

• The film was originally going to include a kidnapping scene, but during production, Sinatra’s 19-year-old son, Frank Jr., was kidnapped and held for $240,000 ransom. The ransom was paid, and Frank Jr. was released five days later. Because of this, Sinatra cut the scene from the film.
• Produced by Frank Sinatra
• Bing Crosby’s last feature film musical.
• While filming Big John’s funeral scene, Frank Sinatra learned that President John F. Kennedy was killed. He had director Gordon Douglas stop shooting for the day, according to the book Sinatra Treasures by Frank Sinatra, Jr.

• Cameos of Tony Randall, Edward G. Robinson
• Bing Crosby’s outfits in “Style”

Awards and Nominations:
• Jimmy Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn were nominated for an Academy Award for Best Music, Original Song for the song “My Kind of Town”
• Nelson Riddle was nominated for an Acadamy Award for Best Music, Scoring of Music, Adaptation or Treatment

Notable Songs:
• “Bang! Bang!” performed by Sammy Davis, Jr.
• “Style” performed by Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin
• “My Kind of Town” performed by Frank Sinatra
• “Mr. Booze” performed by Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and the chorus

My review:
Many of us know the story of Robin Hood – the outlaw who steals from the rich and gives to the poor, all while wooing Maid Marian.

In this 1960s musical, the story was updated to a 1920s gangster setting of Robin Hood.

Written by David R. Schwartz, this story creatively works with the Robin Hood names, characters and storyline for a twentieth-century tale. Truthfully, while the Robin Hood idea is used and names are weaved in, the story really isn’t much like the swashbuckling figure.

In Robin and the 7 Hoods,” two opposing Chicago gangs are fighting for control of the city after Big John (like Prince John) dies. One gang is lead by Robbo (like Robin Hood), played by Frank Sinatra. The other is lead by Guy Gisborne, played by Peter Falk (named for Sir Guy of Gisborne, who is a hired killer of Robin Hood in the story).

Robbo’s “merry men” include a midwestern drifter Little John, played by Dean Martin; quick draw Will (like Will Scarlett) played by Sammy Davis Jr., and scholarly crooner Alan A. Dale played by Bing Crosby (like roaming minstrel Alan-a-Dale).

While the character names are based on the ancient legend, the characters are all different. For example, the meek and mild Maid Marian is now the double-crossing Marian, played by Barbara Rush, who dates her way through the gangsters to earn part of the bankroll.

This film is part crime, part comedy and a little bit of music. The songs are all fun toe-tappers. In particular, I loved the trio of Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and Dean Martin singing “Style” as they try to update Crosby’s old-fashioned duds. As the song is performed, there is also some humor as Crosby comes out in goofy outfits.

Sammy Davis, Jr. sings the high energy “Bang! Bang!” and the revival-like song “Mr. Booze” sung by most of the cast kept me laughing.

“Robin and 7 Hoods” is colorful and hilarious, but I’ll admit – it’s hard to sum up the plot without giving away the plot. In fact, I got a little lost during parts of the film. There is so much double-crossing that it gets a bit confusing at times.

But really with this movie, the plot is the least of your concern.

You will be so sucked in by the color, humor and snappy songs that you don’t need to worry too much about what’s going on. It’s a hoot.

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