Posters and Lobby Cards


Below is a small sample of the fine artwork used to promote Walt Disney's live-action movie The Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men in 1952.

The first image is described by an online auction site, as an Australian Daybill (13'' x 30").


Australian Daybill

Also are two posters (below) that appeared in the media and cinemas. It is interesting to see the differences in design.




The 'Three Sheet' (41'' x 80.5")

I have also included a set of eight very colourful lobby cards, used during the release of the movie at various times. 


Lobby card set of eight (11'' x 14')

There were a vast array of posters used to advertise this film. Down the years I have managed to gain quite a collection on this blog, from all around the world. Including 24 pages of posters and 7 pages of lobby cards. To view them, just click on the links.

Joan Rice : One in Five Thousand



Joan Rice 

This web site is dedicated to the memory of Joan Rice (1930-1997). Down the years I have researched her life and film career. She was personally chosen by Walt Disney to play the part of Maid Marian in his live-action film The Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men, which was filmed in England between April and July 1951. 

This interesting Daily Mirror article dated January 13th 1951 - right at the start of Joan Rice's career - reveals the confidence and expectation that Joan Rice would become the next 'Jean Simmons.' It was written by the renown British journalist Donald Zec:


Juggling with tea-trays gave Joan screen poise
'I say that Joan Rice, 20 ex waitress, will one day become the new Jean Simmons. We can't afford to lose her to Hollywood. 
And my judgement is based on the two performances I saw yesterday. The first was a film test made a year ago after she was "spotted" in a tea shop.
The second was an excerpt from Blackmailed a film she has completed with Dirk Bogarde.

Joan Rice in the Daily Mirror article

She has changed from a raw beginner to a near flawless, sensitive and intensely movie actress. There is a touch of Bergman in her brown eyes and gleaming smile.
Carrying heavily packed trays between cafe tables has giver her the poise and movement of a third-year drama school student.
But how did she become an actress?
Howard Huth the producer who gave her the part (he discovered Greer Garson) told me: "half of it was that she has the touch of magic possessed by perhaps one in five thousand-a vivid imagination, which projects her right into the part.
"For the rest, we bought her nice clothes and took her to smart restaurants. It was delightful to watch her pleasure as she was waited on-instead of being the waitress."'
 Daily Mirror January 13th 1951 
After this article was printed in the Daily Mirror, Joan's career did take-off and there are now 86 pages about her life and career on this blog. Just click here to read more.

If you have any memories of Joan Rice, or knew her personally, please get in touch.

The Sheriff of Nottingham pelted with vegetables!

Peter Finch as the Sheriff of Nottingham

After all these years, I still occasionally discover fabulous unseen stills from Walt Disney's Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (1952). Above is a fine example. It shows Peter Finch as the Sheriff of Nottingham being pelted with vegetables by the townsfolk in the market square. This was after Scathelock is rescued by Robin Hood and his men.





Above and below are some enlarged sections from the same image, showing the detail of art director Carmen Dillon's fabulous set at Denham Studios in Buckinghamshire, England.



To see a lot more images and stills from this wonderful movie please click here.

Merrie Christmas and Happy New Year


I first started this blog over a decade ago. At that time I never dreamt that it was possible to learn so much about the making of my favourite movie and the stars that appeared in it. But together with my readers we have achieved that - and much more. In the new year I am sure our success will continue. This site has now evolved into a fitting tribute to a classic film.


I would like to wish all my readers a very Merrie Christmas and a Happy and Peaceful New Year.



Diana Dors and Joan Rice: His Majesty O'Keefe




Down the years Neil has sent me some fantastic information regarding the making of Disney's live-action Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (1952). He has also shared some fascinating details about the lives of the stars and crew that created the masterpiece we all love so much.

Recently Neil contacted me again, this time regarding the making of His Majesty O'Keefe (1954). He gave me an intriguing nugget of information regarding the casting of Dalabo aki Dali, played by Joan Rice (1930-1999).

In May 1952, shortly after her success as Maid Marian in Disney's Robin Hood, Warner Brothers whisked Joan Rice off to Hollywood. After a series of interviews and publicity shots she was then flown to Fiji to begin filming His Majesty O'Keefe alongside the legendary actor Burt Lancaster. But Joan was not the first choice to play the part of Dalabo!

Neil says:

"I had not realised this - that Diana Dors had met Burt Lancaster in London - in his suite at Claridges - in the early  50s and he had offered her the part of Dalabo in his forthcoming film His Majesty O Keefe which was turned down by her then husband Dennis Hamilton - who was her business manager  - in favour of a Summer Season at Blackpool as it turned out.
I am a great  fan of Joan Rice who took the part - and she was very good in it, but I also am an admirer of Diana Dors who was a very good actress.


his-majesty-o-keefe


It appears that Burt Lancster asked to see Diana at his suite at Claridges in London and indeed she did have this meeting alone with Burt but with her husband lurking somewhere below. She later tested for the part by darkening her skin a little, donning  a sarong, and wearing a black wig but Dennis would not let her take this part. It wouldn't be much of a guess as to why!


diana-dors
Diana Dors (1931-1984)


I am pleased however that Joan Rice got the part - but can't help but wonder what the film would have been like with Diana in that role - but more than that the effect it would have had on her future because she may well have seized the opportunity of such a big film as this. Her husband thought better of her spending months in Fiji on a South Sea Island with Burt Lancaster." (Neil)




I wonder what Joan would have done had she not got the part of Dalabo?

Joan Rice as Dalabo

Would a different film have catapulted her career further?

It can be fascinating to imagine what if? Regular readers of this blog will know that James Cagney was first offered the part of the noble outlaw in Warner Brothers classic The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938). But after a row with Jack Warner, Cagney stormed out of the studio and the role was given to the rising star, Errol Flynn. But 'what if ' Cagney had completed the movie? Would the movie still evolved into one of the greatest ever made?

Six actresses were auditioned for the role of Maid Marian in The Story of Robin Hood by Walt Disney's production crew. (It would be fascinating to learn their names). Joan Rice, of course was hand-picked by Disney himself to star alongside Richard Todd. But 'what if' Joan didn't get the part? Who else could have played Marian so well? I would be interested to know your thoughts.

A big thank you to Neil for sending in the story about Diana Dors. Don't forget to visit his website Films of the Fifties.

Also many thanks to Christian for the His Majesty O'Keefe lobby cards.

Clement McCallin and Joan Rice

Clement McCallin

Above is a rare publicity shot from Walt Disney's live-action film The Story of Robin Hood and his Men Men (1952). It was recently available on-line and shows Clement McCallin (1913-1977) as the Earl of Huntingdon and Joan Rice (1930-1997) as his daughter Maid Marian. 

The press information attached to the still says:
Clement McCallin as the Earl of Huntingdon, life long friend of King Richard the Lionheart, and Joan Rice as his daughter Maid Marian, in Walt Disney's all-live-action Technicolor production "Robin Hood". The film which stars Richard Todd in the title role, is produced by Perce Pearce at Denham Studios for world distribution by RKO Radio.
There is hundreds of images from the movie on this site and many can be seen in the Picture Gallery here .

84 pages on the life and career of Joan Rice can be accessed by clicking on her name above and in the task bar.


Bill Walsh's 'The Riddle of Robin Hood'



I last posted about The Riddle of Robin Hood over eight years ago.  Since then, I have discovered more fascinating information about the making of this little film.

Bill Crozier Walsh's (1913-1975) career with Walt Disney began in June 1943. Initially he started as a joke writer and publicist, which led to work on the syndicated Micky Mouse cartoon strip. But this portly, cigar chomping New Yorker would later become one of the most successful producers in entertainment history.

Disney soon noticed Walsh's talents in publicity and put him in charge of the studios first television production, One Hour in Wonderland which aired on Christmas Day in 1950. Walsh recalled Disney inviting him into his office and being told that he had decided to "go with television and that he was the guy that was going to do it."

Walsh was stunned and said, "I don't know anything about television." But Disney just grinned and said, "that's o.k. nobody does!" Walsh remained convinced this new venture was doomed to failure. So he wrote an urgent memorandum to Disney warning that the studio should avoid small screen productions at all costs.  

The note didn't work and ironically Disney's television debut was such a success that Walsh was then hired as head of all the studios television productions. These included the hugely popular series Davy Crockett, The Adventures of Spin and Marty, The Mickey Mouse Club and The Hardy Boys.
Bill Walsh with Walt Disney

When the studio began planning their second live-action movie The Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men in 1951, Disney invited Walsh over to England. When he inquired as to what his role would be, Walt replied:
"There's a funny little magic word called 'initiative', and that will tell you what to do." 
Once in England, Walsh put his instinct as a publicist to good use and conceived the idea of 12 minute promotional film about the making of this new Disney's live action movie. He called it The Riddle of Robin Hood and it included details about the research that the studio had made into the ancient legend and backstage production scenes. 


The Riddle of Robin Hood was shown in schools, cinemas and TV stations all over the country. Walsh described Disney as being delighted because:
"We were getting a lot of mileage out of this goofy little film and Walt was sort of enchanted by all that free space promoting the film."
Whilst browsing the Chronology of the Walt Disney Company many years ago I discovered, under the year 1952, a mention of The Riddle of Robin Hood. It simply said-under, month unknown, “Disney releases the film The Riddle of Robin Hood for promotional use [501.470].” I immediately emailed the owner of the web site, but he later confessed that he knew very little else. So I put an appeal on this blog in September 2007 for anyone that might have seen this mysterious film.

Perce Pearce with Walt Disney in 'The Riddle of Robin Hood.'

Eventually Neil contacted me and revealed that he had acquired a copy of this very rare film. This was fantastic news! It was produced by the Disney organisation to promote their second live-action production The Story of Robin Hood (1952). It is not only an amazing piece of cinematic history - but also of Disney history.

Today, Walsh's 'goofy little film' gives a fascinating insight into the Disney studios live-action production of Robin Hood.  It takes you behind the scenes, right from the early research, the planning stages, set construction and on to the filming at Denham Film Studios in 1951. So you can imagine my surprise when I received this message from Disney expert Bill Cotter a few years ago:
“I just saw your post on this film and wanted to share what I wrote about it for my book The Wonderful World of Disney Television:
'Another project during this time also helped to confirm Walt's feelings about using television to promote his theatrical releases. After World War II, the Studio made several films in England to use funds being held there. Walt took Bill Walsh with him to England during the filming of The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men, a 1952 release starring Richard Todd. Walsh's assignment was to produce a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film, and he took the unusual approach of questioning Robin Hood's actual existence. The resultant 12-minute film, The Riddle of Robin Hood, was Walsh's first live action film. The Studio wasn't quite sure what to do with it, and as Walsh later retold it, they decided to give it away for free to anyone who was interested in it:
"In those days, naive was the word for the TV people. They didn't know what to do - they had to fill up a lot of time all day long, but they didn't have the stuff. We planted this film with a lot of TV stations all over the country, planted it with schools, because it had kind of a documentary feel about it. So pretty soon we were getting a lot of mileage out of this goofy little film. Walt was sort of enchanted by that, all that free space promoting the film, so the next year the networks came in and wanted Walt to do a TV show, and he was sort of spooky about it. I think he had had a bad experience on radio using the voices like the Duck and the Mouse. Nobody could understand it and the show wasn't successful, so he was a little leery about doing a TV show."
While it wasn't originally planned as a television program, The Riddle of Robin Hood certainly served the purpose of proving once again that television and films could happily co-exist.'
(Bill Cotter) 
Below are two more screenshots from The Riddle of Robin Hood.

Richard Todd up in The Major Oak in Sherwood Forest


Carman Dillon designing Nottingham town square

After several years in television Walsh switched to live-action films. He was either a writer, co-producer and producer on such memorable Disney productions like Mary Poppins, The Absent Minded Professor, That Darn Cat, Black Beard's Ghost, One Of Our Dinosaur's Is Missing, Bedknobs And Broomsticks, The Love Bug and Herbie Rides Again.

On Mary Poppins, Walsh shared an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture with Walt Disney.  He also shared an Academy Award nomination for Best Writing Adapted Screenplay with Don Da Gradi.


Bill Walsh

Marsh's remarkable creative talent led him to become Disney's right-hand man and close friend until Disney's death in 1966. 

Songwriters Richard and Robert Sherman described Bill Marsh as:
"one of the most gifted men ever to have worked for Disney-deft with language and humour."
Bill Marsh died of a heart attack on January 27th 1975.


Richard the Lionheart departs on Crusade

Hubert Gregg as Prince John watches his brother leave on Crusade

A month ago I posted about Peter Ellenshaw (1913-2007) and his amazing matte work for Walt Disney (it can be read here). The image above is a perfect example - and captures one of my favourite scenes from the movie.

As the sun sets, Hubert Gregg (1914-2004) as Prince John, watches from the turrets of Nottingham Castle as his brother King Richard I departs with his knights for the Holy Land. The background music accompanying the scene contained a Gregorian chant that I have been unable to trace.

The day I saw this, in all its Technicolor splendour on the silver screen at my local cinema, I was enthralled. And I have loved this movie ever since.

Before computer-generated-imagery, or CGI as it is called, 'matte' paintings were used. These were created by artists using paints or pastels on large sheets of glass or integrating with the live-action footage via a double exposure. Peter Ellenshaw used this technique flawlessly on more than 30 films for Walt Disney Studios. He began working as a freelancer for Walt Disney in 1947 and became involved in the making of Treasure Island, the studios first live-action movie. It was the art director Carmen Dillon (1908-2000) that recommended Peter’s work to Walt Disney, for his next project in England, ‘The Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men’ in 1952.

Thanks to Laurence we now know that on Robin Hood, Peter Ellenshaw actually painted 52 matte shots. A technique that impressed the film’s producer Ken Annakin so much, that in his next picture for Disney, The Sword and The Rose, he used 64 of Ellenshaw’s fine matte work.

So began Peter’s long career with the Disney Studios and a 30 year friendship with Walt Disney himself, of whom he regarded as a 'wonderful inspiration'. Ellenshaw was officially designated a 'Disney Legend' in 1993.

The Daily Mirror's report on Joan Rice's Wedding

The page from The Daily Mirror

This report is taken from The Daily Mirror dated 17th February 1953. We have seen various pictures taken on the day of Joan Rice's wedding, but this article gives us a fascinating glimpse of  Joan's 'big day.'

It reads:

A girl cried at Joan's wedding

"The wedding was over and police had to hold back the crowds that pressed around film star Joan Rice, 23, and film salesman David Green, 19, as they left Maidenhead (Berks), register office. 

Cars took the guests to the reception at the home of Joan's new father-in-law, American comedian Harry Green at Maidenhead (Berks). Joan's twenty-one-year-old sister Roma was there - so were her aunt and a niece from Birmingham.

Head Bowed

The crowds left and the road was empty. Empty except for a schoolgirl who leaned on the railings opposite the register office. Her head was bowed. She was sobbing. 

Big tears came from the eyes as the girl, Gillian Rice, 14, told me; 'I'm Joan's sister. I couldn't get through the crowd."

I took Gillian to the reception; "a nice lady in the house" lent her a frock, and she joined the rest of the guests.

In her Arms

Joan put her arms around Gillian and Gillian's eyes filled with happy tears.

She said; "The last time I saw Joan was just before she went to the Fiji Islands last year to make a film."



A Daily Mirror reporter."
***

This site is dedicated to the memory of Joan Rice (1930-1997) and has over 82 pages filled with information about her life and career. Just click here to read more.

If you have any memories about Joan Rice that you would like to share please get in touch at disneysrobin@googlemail.com.