Robin Hood (1973)

G | 83 mins | Adventure | December 1973

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HISTORY

After the studio logo, the film's title appears as the cover of an old book, which then opens, showing a page of text relating the story of Robin Hood. "The rooster" then appears and introduces himself, saying that the story will reveal the true story of what happened in Sherwood Forest. Later in the story, the rooster, who is voiced by singer-songwriter Roger Miller, provides intermittent narration throughout the film, both in words and song. Later in the film, the rooster announces to the audience that he is also known as the minstrel "Alan-a-Dale." The opening credits show many of the animated characters and suggest some scenes of the story to follow.
       All of the film's characters were drawn as animals and, as mentioned in reviews, this was the first Disney animated feature in which this was the case. During the melee in the escape sequence following the archery tournament, the characters begin to act as if they are playing a football game, while a few bars of "Fight On!," The University of Southern California fight song, is heard on the soundtrack, followed by portions of "On, Wisconsin!," the University of Wisconsin fight song. The sequence, as noted by some critics, was similar to the animated soccer game in the 1971 Disney production Bedknobs and Broomsticks (see above).
       In the rainy sequence after "Prince John" raises taxes and imprisons the peasants who cannot pay, the backgrounds and most of characters are shown in scales of black and white. As noted in the film's pressbook, producer-director Wolfgang Reitherman started at the Disney Studios in 1933 and animated, among other things, ... More Less

After the studio logo, the film's title appears as the cover of an old book, which then opens, showing a page of text relating the story of Robin Hood. "The rooster" then appears and introduces himself, saying that the story will reveal the true story of what happened in Sherwood Forest. Later in the story, the rooster, who is voiced by singer-songwriter Roger Miller, provides intermittent narration throughout the film, both in words and song. Later in the film, the rooster announces to the audience that he is also known as the minstrel "Alan-a-Dale." The opening credits show many of the animated characters and suggest some scenes of the story to follow.
       All of the film's characters were drawn as animals and, as mentioned in reviews, this was the first Disney animated feature in which this was the case. During the melee in the escape sequence following the archery tournament, the characters begin to act as if they are playing a football game, while a few bars of "Fight On!," The University of Southern California fight song, is heard on the soundtrack, followed by portions of "On, Wisconsin!," the University of Wisconsin fight song. The sequence, as noted by some critics, was similar to the animated soccer game in the 1971 Disney production Bedknobs and Broomsticks (see above).
       In the rainy sequence after "Prince John" raises taxes and imprisons the peasants who cannot pay, the backgrounds and most of characters are shown in scales of black and white. As noted in the film's pressbook, producer-director Wolfgang Reitherman started at the Disney Studios in 1933 and animated, among other things, the mirror sequence in Snow White and the Seven Drawfs (1938, see below). A running gag in Robin Hood revolves around Prince John’s frequent lapses into thumb-sucking and cries of “Mommy.” According to modern sources, the character of "Sir Hiss" was animated by Disney veterans Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston.
       According to a 25 Aug 1970 DV news item, Robin Hood was budgeted at "approximately $4,000,000." The same news item reported that English singer-actor Tommy Steele would provide the voice for "Robin Hood." The film's first HR production chart, on 15 Jan 1971, listed Steele. His name remained on the production charts until 20 Aug 1971, when it was replaced by Brian Bedford's. It is unclear how much, if any, of the voice recording for Robin Hood was made by Steele then re-recorded by Bedford. Modern sources add the voices of Billy Whitaker, Dana Laurita, Dora Whitaker and Richie Sanders to the cast.
       A DV news item in Aug 1970 reported that the feature was to be in production for approximately three-and-a-half years, while the Var review states that the picture was "four years in the making." HR charts reflect an inconsistency in terms of actual start date and days in production for the film. From 15 Jan 1971 through 7 Apr 1972, the number of days in production advances consistently from 1 to 321. However, the HR production chart on 28 Apr 1972 lists the number of days in production as 47. This numbering continues on for several weeks until the charts no longer state the number of days in production but simply read "Started 4 Jan 1972."
       The film's pressbook related that Robin Hood utilized 350,000 drawings, including early pencil sketches, and 100,000 animated cells, which required a total of fifteen animators and twenty-three assistant animators to produce. Press releases and news items reveal that several executives from Disney's releasing company, Buena Vista Distribution Co., took a rough cut of the film to six cities, Kansas City, Dallas, Atlanta, Chicago, New York and Los Angeles, in mid-May 1973, almost seven months before the picture's release. The film's New York opening was on 8 Nov 1973, when it became the Thanksgiving and Christmas attraction for the Radio City Music Hall.
       Peter Ustinov, who provided the voice to Prince John also provided the voice for his brother, "King Richard," who appeared briefly at the end of the story. As noted in the LAT and other reviews, Monica Evans, who voiced "Maid Marion," and Carole Shelley, who voiced "Lady Kluck," were best known for their respective portrayals of "Cecily" and "Gwendolyn," "The Pigeon Sisters," in the 1968 feature film The Odd Couple (see above), as well as its ABC television series adaptation of the same name. The pair also had appeared in Disney's previous animated feature, The Aristocats (1970, see above), as "The Gabble Sisters." Although Shelley has continued to appear in numerous film and television roles, Robin Hood marked Evans' last screen role. Singer/band leader Phil Harris had provided the voice for two previous animated features for Disney, "Baloo" in The Jungle Book (1967, see above) and "J. Thomas O'Malley" in The Aristocats .
       Although some reviewers expressed the opinion that Robin Hood , which was the first feature-length animated film from Disney since The Aristocats , did not live up to some of the great animated Disney films of the past, most critics were positive. Judith Crist of New York , whose sentiments were echoed by many, particularly liked the voice performances of Ustinov as Prince John and King Richard and Terry-Thomas as Sir Hiss: "It's a feast for the kiddies and Disney nostalgiacs, feisty enough for us big kids--and grand larceny on the parts of messrs. Ustinov and Terry-Thomas."
       "Love," composed by George Bruns and Floyd Huddleston, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song. According to the film's pressbook, "The Phony King of England," by Johnny Mercer, was based on an actual medieval tune. Robin Hood had its world television premiere in Jun 1985 on the premium cable channel, The Disney Channel. Its commercial television debut was not until 16 Mar 1986, when it was shown on the ABC Television network.
       Disney previously had produced a live-action version of the Robin Hood legend in 1952. That film was entitled The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men , and starred Richard Todd in the title role (see below). For additional titles and information on the many other films and television series based on the legend of Robin Hood, please consult the entry above for the 1938 Warner Bros. production The Adventures of Robin Hood , directed by Michael Curtiz and starring Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
10 Dec 1973
p. 4647.
Cue
12 Nov 1973.
---
Daily Variety
25 Aug 1970.
---
Daily Variety
23 Oct 1973.
---
Daily Variety
5 Nov 1973.
---
Films and Filming
Jan 1974.
---
Hollywood Reporter
15 Jan 1971
p. 16.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Aug 1971
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Apr 1972
p. 20.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Apr 1972
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Sep 1973
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Nov 1973
p. 3, 11.
Los Angeles Herald Examiner
21 Dec 1973
Section C, p. 10.
Los Angeles Times
21 Dec 1973.
---
New York
12 Nov 1973.
---
New York Times
9 Nov 1973
p. 29.
Time
3 Dec 1973.
---
Variety
7 Nov 1973
p. 16.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Based on character and story conceptions by
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
MUSIC
SOUND
Sd eff
VISUAL EFFECTS
Eff anim
Eff anim
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
ANIMATION
Directing anim
Directing anim
Directing anim
Directing anim
Story seq
Story seq
Story seq
Story seq
Story seq
Story seq
Character anim
Character anim
Character anim
Character anim
Character anim
Character anim
Character anim
Character anim
Key asst anim
Key asst anim
Key asst anim
Key asst anim
Col styling
Background painting
Background painting
Background painting
SOURCES
SONGS
"Doo-de-lally," "Not in Nottingham" and "Whistle-Stop," music and lyrics and sung by Roger Miller
"Love," music and lyrics by Floyd Huddleston and George Bruns, sung by Nancy Adams
"The Phony King of England," music and lyrics by Johnny Mercer, sung by Phil Harris.
PERFORMER
DETAILS
Release Date:
December 1973
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 8 November 1973
Los Angeles opening: 21 December 1973
Production Date:
mid January 1971--late April 1972
Copyright Claimant:
Walt Disney Productions
Copyright Date:
25 October 1973
Copyright Number:
LP42905
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Photophone Sound Recording
Color
Technicolor
Animation
Duration(in mins):
83
MPAA Rating:
G
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
23700
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In late twelfth century England, as Robin Hood and his best friend, Little John, stroll through Sherwood Forest, Little John worries that Robin is taking too many chances and wonders if their practice of robbing the rich to give to the poor makes them good or bad. While laughing over Little John's worries, Robin sees a large caravan of prosperous wagons in the distance and concocts a plan to rob them. Meanwhile, within the caravan, the crafty Sir Hiss tells his master, Prince John, that they are approaching Nottingham, the richest town in England. Prince John, who has taken the crown of England from his long-absent brother, King Richard, is giddy in anticipation of more riches, but then sucks his thumb and cries "Mommy," remembering that his mother always liked Richard best. Moments later, Robin and Little John, dressed as gypsy fortune tellers, approach the caravan and ask if they may read the prince’s fortune. He is delighted and invites them in, scoffing at Sir Hiss's warnings until Robin and Little John deftly steal his rings and gold before escaping into the forest. Even though the prince offers a one thousand pound reward for Robin, the impoverished peasants refuse to turn him in to the Sheriff of Nottingham. One day, when the local priest, Friar Tuck, gives a few coins to Otto, a crippled blacksmith, the bombastic sheriff cheerfully grabs the money and goes on his way. That same day, while the widow Mother Rabbit and her children are celebrating her son Skippy's birthday with the only money they have, a farthing, the sheriff quickly snatches it. Moments later, the ... +


In late twelfth century England, as Robin Hood and his best friend, Little John, stroll through Sherwood Forest, Little John worries that Robin is taking too many chances and wonders if their practice of robbing the rich to give to the poor makes them good or bad. While laughing over Little John's worries, Robin sees a large caravan of prosperous wagons in the distance and concocts a plan to rob them. Meanwhile, within the caravan, the crafty Sir Hiss tells his master, Prince John, that they are approaching Nottingham, the richest town in England. Prince John, who has taken the crown of England from his long-absent brother, King Richard, is giddy in anticipation of more riches, but then sucks his thumb and cries "Mommy," remembering that his mother always liked Richard best. Moments later, Robin and Little John, dressed as gypsy fortune tellers, approach the caravan and ask if they may read the prince’s fortune. He is delighted and invites them in, scoffing at Sir Hiss's warnings until Robin and Little John deftly steal his rings and gold before escaping into the forest. Even though the prince offers a one thousand pound reward for Robin, the impoverished peasants refuse to turn him in to the Sheriff of Nottingham. One day, when the local priest, Friar Tuck, gives a few coins to Otto, a crippled blacksmith, the bombastic sheriff cheerfully grabs the money and goes on his way. That same day, while the widow Mother Rabbit and her children are celebrating her son Skippy's birthday with the only money they have, a farthing, the sheriff quickly snatches it. Moments later, the sheriff takes coins from a blind beggar whom Mother Rabbit then invites into her home. The beggar reveals himself to be Robin and gives the delighted Skippy a bow and arrow and a feathered cap. Later, as Skippy and his friends play outside, Skippy accidentally shoots an arrow into the estate of King Richard’s niece, Maid Marian. Rather than being angry, Marian and her companion, Lady Kluck, are delighted to hear stories of Robin Hood, whom Marian knew and loved as a child. That evening, Marian wonders if Robin still thinks of her, not knowing that, at the same time, Robin is in the forest dreaming of her. Just then Tuck announces to Robin and Little John that the prince is sponsoring an archery tournament the next day in Nottingham, with a prize of a golden arrow and a kiss from Marian. Despite Little John's misgivings, Robin is determined to go, and the next day arrives in disguise at the tournament, not knowing that the prince has set a trap for him. Before the tournament begins, Little John approaches the prince's tent dressed as "Sir Reginald, Duke of Chutney," and ingratiates himself enough to be invited in to watch the tournament. When the contest begins, Robin easily bests his opponents, but is recognized by Sir Hiss, who is quickly grabbed and placed in a barrel of ale by Tuck. When Robin goes to receive the arrow and the kiss from Marian, he is unmasked by the prince, who sentences him to an immediate execution. Before the execution can take place, Little John surprises the prince from behind and holds a knife to his back, forcing him to tell his men to release Robin. As Robin and Marian embrace, the sheriff sneaks up behind Little John and disarms him, after which chaos breaks out as Robin’s men battle the sheriff’s. Robin, Marian, Little John and Tuck are able to escape, to the frustration of the prince. Later, in Sherwood Forest, Robin and his band celebrate, and Robin and Marian rekindle their childhood love. Little John delights everyone by making up a song entitled “The Phony King of England,” and it soon becomes popular throughout the county. When even Sir Hiss and the sheriff start to sing it, the prince is so angry that he orders the sheriff to triple the taxes. Soon most of the starving peasants, including Skippy and his family, have been imprisoned for being unable to pay their taxes. One cold and rainy afternoon, when the sheriff steals the last farthing in the church’s poor box, Tuck is so enraged that he chases the sheriff out into the rain and fights him. Tuck quickly is arrested by the sheriff’s men and imprisoned alongside the peasants. Later, when Sir Hiss reminds Prince John, who is despondent that Robin is still at large, that Tuck is in jail, the prince decides that the best way to capture Robin is to set a trap by sentencing Tuck to hang. Even Sir Hiss is shocked at the suggestion of hanging a man of the church, but Prince John assures him that it is a good plan. While the sheriff’s men, Nutsy and Trigger, are building Tuck’s gallows, they boast to Robin, who again is disguised as the blind beggar, that there might be two hangings in the morning. After relating his escape plan to the apprehensive Little John, Robin cunningly overcomes Nutsy, exchanges clothes with him and steals the keys to the jail from the sleeping sheriff. As Little John then enters the prison and subsequently unshackles Tuck, Skippy and the others, Robin scales the walls to the prince’s tower and enters his chamber. Using a pulley he has fashioned from a line attached to an arrow, Robin steals bags of gold while the prince and Sir Hiss are sleeping, lowering the bags into the courtyard, where the peasants grab them and carry them outside the town walls. When one of the bags Robin lowers begins to leak its content of gold coins, the noise awakens the sheriff, but Little John quickly overwhelms him. However, when Robin grabs the last bag of gold from the sleeping prince’s hands, Sir Hiss and the prince awaken. Chaos ensues as the guards start to shoot at Robin. He and Little John escape across the drawbridge, but when Robin realizes that one of Mother Rabbit's children is still inside the walls, he rushes back. Robin saves the child but is soon trapped inside the tower and seems to have no means of escape when the prince sets the tower ablaze. Robin then yells “A pox on the phony king of England” as he leaps into the moat. While Little John and Skippy, and the prince and Sir Hiss, watch from opposite shores, Robin does not resurface, but his cap floats by with an arrow through it. Skippy then sees a reed go across the surface of the water and is delighted when Robin emerges from the water unharmed. Some time later, Robin has been pardoned by the newly returned King Richard who, along with all of Nottingham, attends the marriage of Robin and Marian. As their honeymoon carriage travels from the church, it passes Prince John, the sheriff and Sir Hiss, who are toiling on The Royal Rock Pile. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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