My colleague Binyamin Appelbaum noticed something interesting yesterday: Robin Hood movies are tied to recessions. We're talking here about the adult Robin Hood movies. So set aside "Men in Tights" and the Disney cartoon. Instead, look at first major Robin Hood film, "The Adventures of Robin Hood". Release date? 1938. Similarly, "Prince of Thieves" came out in 1991, another recessionary year. And I ran a quick Google search: Sure enough, there's another Robin Hood movie slated for May of 2010.
1938 marked the first major Robin Hood film? Please. I claim a point of personal privilege. My father's name was Dale Douglas Drum. His first name was based on the character Allan-a-Dale and his middle name was taken from the actor Douglas Fairbanks. Why? Because shortly before he was born my grandparents had seen the 1922 version of Robin Hood starring Fairbanks and the names were fresh in their heads. It was quite famous in its day. But was there a recession in 1922?
Decide for yourself. NBER says there was an 18-month recession from January 1920 to July 1921 and a 14-month recession from May 1923 to July 1924. So it was a generally contractionary period. But 1922 itself? Recession free! I claim a foul.
In related news, my father was born in 1926, which just goes to show how long it took movies to make their way into smaller cities back then. The good citizens of Portland get better treatment from Hollywood these days.