Robin Hood (1973 movie)

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Robin Hood
Directed byWolfgang Reitherman
Produced byWolfgang Reitherman
Story byLarry Clemmons
Ken Anderson
Vance Gerry
Frank Thomas
Eric Cleworth
Julius Svendsen
David Michener
Based onthe legend of Robin Hood
Narrated byRoger Miller
Music byScore:
George Bruns
Roger Miller
Johnny Mercer
Floyd Huddleston
Distributed byBuena Vista Distribution
Release date
  • November 8, 1973 (1973-11-08)
Running time
83 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$5 million[1]
Box office$32 million[2]

Robin Hood is a 1973 American animated buddy musical adventure-comedy movie. It was produced by Walt Disney Productions. It was first released in the United States on November 8, 1973.

It is the 21st Disney animated movie. It is based on the legend of Robin Hood, but uses anthropomorphic animals instead of people. The story follows the adventures of Robin Hood, Little John and the inhabitants of Nottingham as they fight against the excessive taxation of Prince John, and Robin Hood wins the hand of Maid Marian.

Plot[change | change source]

Alan-a-Dale introduces the story of Robin Hood and Little John, two outlaws living in Sherwood Forest. They steal from the rich and give to the poor townsfolk of Nottingham, despite the efforts of the Sheriff of Nottingham to stop them. Meanwhile, Prince John and his assistant Sir Hiss arrive in Nottingham on a tour of the kingdom. Knowing the prince is very rich, Robin and Little John steal from Prince John by disguising themselves as fortune tellers. The embarrassed Prince John then puts a bounty on their heads and makes the Sheriff his personal tax collector. He takes pleasure in taking money from the townsfolk including hidden money from the crippled blacksmith Otto and a single farthing from a young rabbit, Skippy, who had just received it as a birthday present. However, Robin Hood, disguised as a beggar, sneaks in and gives back some money to the family, as well as his hat and a bow to Skippy in honor of his birthday.

Skippy and his friends test out the bow, but Skippy fires an arrow into the grounds of Maid Marian's castle. The children sneak inside, meeting Maid Marian and her attendant Lady Kluck. Skippy "rescues" Marian from Lady Kluck, who pretends to be Prince John. Later, when she is alone with Kluck, Maid Marian reveals she and Robin were childhood sweethearts but they have not seen one another for years, and Kluck tells her not to give up on her love for Robin. Meanwhile, Friar Tuck visits Robin and Little John. He explains that Prince John is hosting an archery tournament, and the winner will get a kiss from Maid Marian. Robin decides to participate in the tournament disguised as a stork whilst Little John disguises himself as the Duke of Chutney to get near Prince John. Sir Hiss discovers Robin's identity but is trapped in a barrel of ale by Friar Tuck and Alan-a-Dale. Robin wins the tournament, but Prince John exposes him and has him arrested for execution despite Maid Marian's pleas. Little John threatens Prince John in order to release Robin. This leads to a fight between Prince John's soldiers and the townsfolk. They all escape to Sherwood Forest.

As Robin and Maid Marian fall in love again, the townsfolk have a troubadour festival making fun of Prince John. They call him the "Phony King of England", and the song soon becomes popular with John's soldiers. Angered by the insult, Prince John triples the taxes, imprisoning most of the townsfolk who cannot pay. A paltry coin gets deposited into the poor box at Friar Tuck's church, but it gets taken by the Sheriff. Angered that government has meddled in his church, Friar Tuck lashes out at the Sheriff, to which he is quickly arrested for "attacking a lawman, interfering with the Sheriff's legal duties and high treason to the Crown". Prince John orders Friar Tuck hung, knowing Robin Hood will come out of hiding to rescue his friend and give the potential for Robin to be caught and a "double hanging".

Robin and Little John, having learned of the plot, chose to sneak in during the night. Little John manages to free all of the prisoners while Robin steals Prince John's taxes, but Sir Hiss awakens to find Robin escaping. Chaos follows as Robin and the others try to escape to Sherwood Forest. The Sheriff corners Robin after he is forced to return to rescue Tagalong, Skippy's little sister. During the chase, Prince John's castle catches fire and the Sheriff figures he has Robin where he wants, either to be captured, burned, or make a risky jump into the moat. Robin Hood decides to jump. Little John and Skippy fear Robin is lost, but he surfaces safely after using a reed as a breathing tube. Sir Hiss says he tried to warn Prince John, and now look what he did to his mother's castle. This causes the Prince to exclaim "Mummy!" and suck his thumb and chase the scared snake into the burning castle.

Later, King Richard returns to England, placing his brother, Sir Hiss and the Sheriff under arrest. He allows his niece Maid Marian to marry Robin Hood, turning the former outlaw into an in-law.

Alternate ending[change | change source]

The alternate ending (included in the "Most Wanted Edition" DVD) is a deleted version of the story's ending. It is mostly made of still images from Ken Anderson's original storyboard drawings of the scene. As Robin Hood leaps off of the castle and into the moat, he is wounded (presumably by one of the arrows shot into the water after him) and carried away to the church for safety. Prince John, angry that he has once again been outsmarted by Robin Hood, finds Little John leaving the church, and suspects the outlaw to be there as well. Sure enough, he finds Maid Marian tending to an unconscious Robin Hood, and draws a dagger to kill them both. Before Prince John can strike, however, he is stopped by his brother, King Richard, having returned from the Crusades. King Richard is horrified to find that Prince John has left his kingdom bleak and oppressed. Obeying his mother's wishes, King Richard decides he cannot banish Prince John from the kingdom, but does grant him major punishment (which explained how Prince John, Sir Hiss, and the Sheriff ended up in the Royal Rock Pile). King Richard returns Nottingham to its former glory (before leaving for the Third Crusade), knights Robin Hood as Sir Robin of Locksley, and orders Friar Tuck to marry Robin Hood and Maid Marian.

A short finished scene from the planned original ending, featuring King Richard and revealing himself to vulture henchmen Trigger and Nutsy, appeared in the Ken Anderson episode of the 1980s Disney Channel documentary series Disney Family Album. This scene, at least in animated form, does not appear on the Most Wanted Edition DVD.[source?]

Cast[change | change source]

Although at least five of the voice-actors used were British, the choice was made to cast quite a number of American character actors in the traditional medieval roles. Many of these people were veteran performers from Western-themed movies and television programs. This meant that characters like Little John, Friar Tuck, and the Sheriff of Nottingham have distinctly American accents and mannerisms. This effect was further reinforced by the choice of country singer Roger Miller as the movie's songwriter and narrator.

Production[change | change source]

At first, the studio considered a movie about Reynard the Fox. However, due to Walt Disney's concern that Reynard was an unsuitable choice for a hero, Ken Anderson used many elements from it in Robin Hood.

Robin Allan wrote in his book Walt Disney and Europe, that "Ken Anderson wept when he saw how his character concepts had been processed into stereotypes for the animation on Robin Hood."[3] According to Ward Kimball and Ollie Johnston, one such disaster was the concept of making the Sheriff of Nottingham a goat as an artistic experiment to try different animals for a villain, only to be overruled by the director who wanted to keep to the villainous stereotype of a wolf instead.[4] Additionally, Anderson wanted to include the Merry Men into the movie, which was again overridden by Reitherman because he wanted a "buddy picture" reminiscent of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, so Little John was the only Merry Man who remained in the film, while Friar Tuck was put as a friend of Robin's who lived in Nottingham, and Alan-a-Dale was turned into the narrator.[5] Because of the time spent on developing several settings and auditioning actors to voice Robin Hood, production fell behind schedule.[6] In order to meet its deadline, the animators decided to recycle dance sequences from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, The Jungle Book, and The Aristocats.[7]

Release[change | change source]

The movie premiered at the Radio City Music Hall on November 9, 1973.[8] The movie was re-released on March 26, 1982. It was released to videocassette on December 4, 1984. It thus became the first installment of the Walt Disney Classics home video label.[9] Disney thought the idea of releasing any of its animated classics (known as the "untouchables") might threaten future theatrical release money. However, Robin Hood was viewed as the first choice because it was not held in such high regard as some of the other titles, and was less likely to get another theatrical release as its 1982 reissue proved to be disappointing.[10] It was later re-released in 1991 (as part of Walt Disney Classics Collection), 1994, and 1998 (as part of the Walt Disney Masterpiece Collection).

In January 2000, Walt Disney Home Video launched the Gold Classic Collection, with Robin Hood re-released on VHS and DVD on July 4, 2000.[11] The DVD had the movie in its 1.33:1 aspect ratio, and was accompanied with special features including a trivia game and the cartoon short "Ye Olden Days".[12] The remastered "Most Wanted Edition" DVD ("Special Edition" in the UK) was released in 2006. It featured a deleted scene/alternate ending, as well as a 16:9 matted transfer to represent its original theatrical screen ratio. On August 6, 2013, the movie was released as the 40th Anniversary Edition on a Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy combo pack.

Reception[change | change source]

Critical reaction[change | change source]

When the movie was originally released, Judith Crist said it was "nicely tongue-in-cheek without insult to the intelligence of either child or adult." She also said that it "has class – in the fine cast that gives both voice and personality to the characters, in the bright and brisk dialogue, in its overall concept."[13] Vincent Canby said that it "should ... be a good deal of fun for toddlers whose minds have not yet shriveled into orthodoxy" and he called the visual style "charmingly conventional".[14] The Montreal Gazette said that when "Disney cartoon films ... are good, they are very good" and that "there are not many films around these days which an entire family can attend and enjoy. Robin Hood is one of them."[15] New York magazine called it "a sweet, funny, slam-bang, good-hearted Walt Disney feature cartoon with a fine cast" and said it was "a feast for the eyes for kiddies and Disney nostalgics."[16] Reviews written decades after the original release of the movie have been more mixed. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes said that the movie received a 52% approval rating with an average rating of 5.4/10 based on 25 reviews. The website's consensus states that "One of the weaker Disney adaptations, Robin Hood is cute and colorful but lacks the majesty and excitement of the studio's earlier efforts."[17]

Box office[change | change source]

In its original release, Robin Hood made $9.5 million in the United States.[18]

Awards and honors[change | change source]

The song "Love" was nominated for Best Original Song at the 46th Academy Awards but lost to "The Way We Were" from the movie of the same name.

The movie is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:

Soundtrack[change | change source]

Robin Hood
Studio album by Various artists
GenreChildren's, Classical
LabelDisneyland Records
  1. "Whistle-Stop" written and sung by Roger Miller
  2. "Oo De Lally" written and sung by Roger Miller
  3. "Love" written by Floyd Huddleston and George Bruns and sung by Nancy Adams
  4. "The Phony King of England" written by Johnny Mercer and sung by Phil Harris
  5. "The Phony King of England Reprise" sung by Terry-Thomas and Pat Buttram
  6. "Not In Nottingham" written and sung by Roger Miller
  7. ""Love"/Oo-De-Lally Reprise" sung by Chorus

The music played in the background while Lady Kluck fights off Prince John's soldiers in an American football manner, following the archery tournament, is an arrangement of "Fight On" and "On, Wisconsin", the respective fight songs of the University of Southern California and the University of Wisconsin.

A full soundtrack to Robin Hood has never been released on compact disc in the US. However, a record of the movie was made at the time of its release in 1973. It included its songs, score, narration, and dialogue. Both "Oo De Lally" and "Love" appear on the CD collection, Classic Disney: 60 Years of Musical Magic.

The song "Love" is featured in the 2009 animated movie Fantastic Mr. Fox.[19] The song "Whistle-Stop" was sped up and used in the Hampster Dance, one of the earliest internet memes,[20] and later used at normal speed in the Super Bowl XLVIII commercial for T-Mobile.[21] The song "Oo De Lally" is featured in a 2015 commercial for Android. It shows animals of different species playing together.[22]

Live-action remake[change | change source]

In December 2014, it was announced that Disney had bought a spec script for a live-action movie titled Nottingham & Hood with hopes that it would start a new movie franchise. The tone is said to be similar to the Pirates of the Caribbean movie series.[23]

References[change | change source]

  1. Uddy, John (November 7, 1973). "Disney Coming Out with "Robin Hood"". Toledo Blade. Retrieved August 11, 2016.
  2. "Robin Hood, Box Office Information". The Numbers. Retrieved January 17, 2012.
  3. Robin, Allan (1999). Walt Disney and Europe. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press. p. 253. ISBN 978-0-253-21353-2.
  4. Thomas, Frank; Johnston, Ollie (1981). Disney Animation: The Illusion of Life. Abbeville Press. p. 344. ISBN 978-0-7868-6070-8.
  5. Koenig 2001, p. 149–50.
  6. Hill, Jim (March 17, 2005). "Why For?". Jim Hill Media. Retrieved August 11, 2016.
  7. Maltin, Leonard (1987). Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons. New American Library. p. 76. ISBN 978-0-452-25993-5.
  8. "Bear Facts". The Village Voice. November 1, 1973. Retrieved August 11, 2016.
  9. Collins, Glenn (February 17, 1985). "New Cassettes: From Disney To Mussorgsky's 'Boris'". The New York Times. Retrieved August 11, 2016.
  10. Ryan, Desmond (December 4, 1984). "Disney classic on video?". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved August 11, 2016.
  11. "Walt Disney Home Video Debuts the "Gold Classic Collection"". The Laughing Place. Retrieved August 11, 2016.
  12. "Robin Hood  — Disney Gold Collection". Archived from the original on August 15, 2000. Retrieved August 11, 2016.
  13. Crist, Judith (Nov 12, 1973). New York Magazine. p.91
  14. Canby, Vincent (December 20, 1973). "Screen: 'Robin Hood':Animals and Birds Star in Disney Version The Program". The New York Times. Retrieved August 11, 2016.
  15. Billington, Dave (Dec 22, 1973). The Montreal Gazette. p.23
  16. Gilbert, Ruth (November 26, 1973). "Movies Around Town". New York. Vol. 6 no. 8. p. 13. Retrieved May 31, 2017.
  17. "Robin Hood on Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved August 11, 2016.
  18. Simpson, Wade (May 27, 2009). "Taking Another Look at Robin Hood". Mouse Planet. Retrieved August 11, 2016.
  19. "Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)". IMDb.
  20. Whitburn, Joel (2008). Hot Country Songs 1944 to 2008. Record Research, Inc. p. 180. ISBN 978-0-89820-177-2.
  21. We Killed the Long-Term Contract – T-Mobile at YouTube
  22. Android: Friends Furever at YouTube
  23. Fleming, Jr., Mike (December 4, 2014). "Robin Hood Now A Race As Disney Acquires Spec 'Nottingham & Hood'".

Bibliography[change | change source]

  • Grant, John (April 30, 1998). The Encyclopedia of Walt Disney's Animated Characters: From Mickey Mouse to Hercules. Disney Editions. ISBN 978-0-7868-6336-5.
  • Koenig, David (January 28, 2001). Mouse Under Glass: Secrets of Disney Animation & Theme Parks. Irvine, California: Bonaventure Press. ISBN 978-0-9640605-1-7.

Other websites[change | change source]