Thursday, April 13, 2006

Walt Disney's The Story of Robin Hood (1952).

Walt Disney The Story of Robin Hood (1952), was the first of two Disney Robin Hood films. It is in much the same style as other adventure films they produced in the 50's, such as Treasure Island, and Swiss Family Robinson. But since the release of their second Robin Hood film, the cartoon version of 1973, it has largely been neglected. This is a great shame, because The Story of Robin Hood is a worthy addition to the genre and has many good qualities.
Firstly, it brought a youthful quality to the legend, particularly in the casting of Joan Rice as the "tom boy" Maid Marian who gets to wear Lincoln green, (something Olivia de Havilland would never have done in the Errol Flynn version!) Secondly, the casting of British actors Richard Todd as Robin Hood, and Peter Finch as the Sheriff of Nottingham, with James Robertson Justice as Little John, helps infuse a more English quality. The same can be said of the scale of Sherwood Forest as depicted here, and which some Hollywood versions will insist on turning into Tarzan's jungle. In this respect the settings for Robin Hood's encounters with Little John and Friar Tuck are very pleasing.
Made with family entertainment in mind, all the essential ingredients of the legend are here. Of particular note is the excellent performance of James Hayter as Friar Tuck, easily the film's strongest role. The Story of Robin Hood is also responsible for making Alan A Dale such a well known outlaw. His ballads are used here to link many scenes in "ye olde English" style. But the film is not without its faults. Peter Finch, usually an accomplished actor, makes little impression in his role as the evil Sheriff, and James Robertson Justice makes no attempt to hide his educated Oxford accent, making his Little John faintly ridiculous.
The success of this film was no doubt an influence on the direction the Richard Greene television series which would follow. In fact Archie Duncan, later to play Little John in that series, appears here as the villain Red Gill who attempts to assassinate Robin! (See comments box for more cast details).

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Anonymous Allen W. Wright said...

James Hayter later reprised his role as Tuck in the 1967 film A Challenge for Robin Hood.

I like The Story of Robin Hood. It's not quite as good as some films, but still enjoyable. I wish Disney would release it on DVD. Well, maybe if the BBC series does well.

4:59 PM  
Blogger robin hood said...

Hi Allen,
Also, as you know, james Hayter crops up a couple of times in the Richard greene series.
Nice of you to drop by. Anyone interested in Robin is surely aware of your enthusiasm and your great site.

My very best wishes.

6:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The 'Story of Robin Hood' was the film that set me off on an historical quest to discover the 'real' Robin Hood. Thirty years later I am nowhere near finding him, but its been a wonderful journey. And Disney's 'Story of Robin Hood' is a wonderful film and in my oppinion very underated. Beautifuly made, colourful with a very well written storyline.

I am desperate to find out more information on the making of this film
so you can imagine how pleased I was to find your blog. Where did you get such clear images from the film?

Dare I say that the Richard Todd version, in my humble oppinion has the edge on Errol's.

Keep up the good work

7:31 PM  
Blogger robin hood said...

Thanks for the kind words "anon". I agree it is an underated film, and I also agree the Errol Flynn version gets too much attention.

I get all my images myself as "screen shots". I think the best sites are those which make an effort to be original and not just use other people's work.

Call back soon

11:37 PM  
Anonymous Blondel said...

My name is ‘Blondel’, sorry but ‘anon’ appeared due to my newness at blogging!

As I have said before my main interest is the historical research into the legend. But it soon becomes apparent that the legend splits into a diverse amount of fields. Movies just being one of the many avenues that Robin Hood has materialised. As Proffesor Holt once said, the fact that a medieval outlaw with a wooden bow can still remain popular is an historical phenomenon in itself. Your web site is a great example of this amazing fact, showing the medieval outlaws transformation to the silver screen and beyond.

Being surrounded by trees and watching the black and white series of Robin Hood with Richard Greene, I soon became fascinated by the stories from a very early age. I can remember climbing apple trees with my brother, pretending we were in Sherwood Forest and fighting with lumps of metal and dustbin lids, being knights in the film Ivanhoe!

But as I have said previously it was the Disney version ‘The Story of Robin Hood’ that blew me away. The colour and detail was breathtaking. I just hope a DVD version will come out soon.

Keep up the good work.

10:50 AM  
Blogger robin hood said...

Welcome blondel,

If you have a blog let us know so we can visit.

Yes I agree about a DVD being well overdue for this film. Disney seem content to market just the animated fox version, which I intend to avoid!

9:26 PM  
Blogger robin hood said...

Robin Hood

Walt Disney : The Story of Robin Hood

Richard Todd - Robin Hood
Joan Rice - Maid Marian
Peter Finch - Sheriff of Nottingham
James Hayter - Friar Tuck
James Robertson-Justice - Little John
Martita Hunt - Queen Eleanor
Bill Owen - Stutely
Hubert Gregg - Prince John
Michael Hordern - Scathelock
Patrick Barr - Richard the Lionheart
Reginald Tate - Hugh Fitzooth
Hal Osmond - Midge the Miller
Clement McCallin - Earl of Huntingdon
Louise Hampton - Tyb
Anthony Eustrel - Archbishop of Canterbury
Anthony Forwood - Will Scarlett
Archie Duncan - Red Gill

Director: Ken Annakin
Writer: Lawrence Edward Watkin

Details of film cast and crews can be found at

8:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for your input Robin. I have had a look at various Disney sites but there are scant references to the live-action film of Robin Hood.

I shall just have to do some research on my own.

For Fathers Day this year I was given the complete DVD collection of Richard Greene’s ‘Adventures of Robin Hood’ from the 50’s and early 60’s. I must say in my own humble opinion, it still has a certain quality and is very enjoyable.

I have tried to join Anna’s ‘Robin Hood Appreciation Society’ (a site dedicated to the Richard Greene series) but can’t seem to get registered. But there are a number of things I have noticed since watching the re-runs that I would like to mention.

Firstly, in Disney’s ‘Story of Robin Hood’ they use an extremely colourful and highly decorated chair in a scene in Nottingham Castle when Marian (Joan Rice) learns that Robin Fitzooth (Richard Todd) is outlawed. This same, very distinctive chair, with its ‘pineapple’ decorated top appears in various episodes of Greene’s ‘The Adventures of Robin Hood.’

In ‘Sword of Sherwood Forest’ with Richard Greene and Peter Cushing, the Sheriff’s men wear identical outfits (yellow with black stripes) to those worn by Peter Finch and his men in the earlier Disney’s live-action film version. As you have mentioned Archie Duncan is Red Gill in ‘The Story of Robin Hood’ and Little John in ‘The Adventures of Robin Hood.’

Patrick Barr appeared as Richard the Lionheart in both the Disney live-action version and later in an episode of Greene’s Robin Hood. He must have felt quite at home with the familiar furniture .I wonder if Saphire Films bought the props from Disney after the closure of Denham Studios when the film was completed?

7:01 PM  
Blogger robin hood said...

Hi Blondel,
I assume you've also checked out

a good site for details on cast, writers, directors, crew and locations of virtually any film. For example, they list this movie as being filmed at Burnham Beeches, Buckinghamshire, U.K.

With regard to the Richard Greene series, is the appreciation society you mention the same as this one:

Highly recommended website.

Also, yes there are ENDLESS amusing little details like the ones you point out where sets, props, and certainly actors, crop up time and again through the years in different versions of Robin Hood. I've mentioned quite a few, but will of course be returning to the subject. First priority is to address all the major Robin Hood films, television shows and legends, then expand on that framework.

best wishes for now

thanks for your interest and enthusiasm


1:06 AM  
Blogger Clement of The Glen said...

Fantastic sight Robin. All these wonderful images. Keep up the good work!

8:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Story of Robin Hood DVD is available, but only through the Disney DVD club. I have not been able to find it anywhere else other than at outrageous prices through resellers.

7:51 AM  
Blogger Jason Forthofer said...

Another good resource.

8:45 PM  
Blogger robin hood said...

Okay Jason,

One day I will give in and review the fox version!

12:11 PM  
Blogger fat tom of the opera said...

Hello! A little trivia for you. my father James Hayter who played Friar Tuck in the 1952 Disney version had (eventually) 8 children. when this film was made his youngest son was my brother Tim who aged 5 as a special treat was one day taken to watch location filming.
There is a scene in the film just after Robin and the Friar carry each other over the stream then begin to fight in earnest and are unaware that they are being surrounded by the Sheriff of Nottinghams men. during the ensuing battle where they fight back to back against the soldiers a man on horseback inflicts a mighty whack on Friar tucks head with the flat of his sword. at this point a small but piercing shout rang out across the set "dont hurt my daddy"! although this raise a smile amongst the cast and crew it caused the entire scene to be reshot with perhaps 20 horsemen having to gallop into the shot and do it all again. perhaps this is why I dont recall being invited onto any sets when my turn came!! lovely blog you have here keep it up.

4:26 PM  
Blogger robin hood said...

That is an excellent little story. Thank you very much for sharing.

This particular film seems to have become something of a forgotten classic in many ways, especially as Disney continue to promote the Fox cartoon instead.

I know many, many Robin Hood fans over here in England who would love to be able to buy a remastered DVD of it.

4:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Im only 14 and this was the first movie version of robin hood that i ever saw. it lead to my favorite characters from 5-8 becoming Robin Hood and Peter Pan (and that was very different for a girl!)
i was searching for information about it because there are so so many robin hood movies and i couldn't remember the particular title. I could only remember Maid Marian's yellow dress in the opening scene. I am so so happy that i found this page with all its beautiful information. It brings back so many memories and it is lovely to know that there are more people who love this forgotten version as much as i do. Thanks again.

9:59 PM  
Blogger robin hood said...

Thanks anonymous.

Now you really MUST visit the following blog:

It is dedicated totally to this Disney Robin Hood movie, and contains lots of real rarities. Not to be missed. (Tell them I sent you).

11:51 AM  
Blogger robin hood said...

Richard Todd, R.I.P.

December 4th., 2009.

7:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello again ! Id like to add myself to the R.I.P Richard Todd note and to let you know by a strange coincidence,my brother found a lady in Amrica who had the singing friar tuck clip and has now placed it on youtube under the heading friar tuck come sing low come sing high. enjoy!

8:30 PM  

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