Joan Rice as Maid Marian

This is an excerpt from ‘And The “Reel” Maid Marian’, a paper by Sherron Lux on the character and role of the various Maid Marion’s on the silver screen over the years. Sherron reaches the conclusion, of course, that Joan Rice’s portrayal of Maid Marian, is one of the best of all time.............

"......Joan Rice’s Marian is vital to Ken Annakin’s 1952 film for Walt Disney, misleadingly called ‘The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men’; it is Marian’s story, as well, because without her, only about half the story would be left. Joan Rice gives us a bright, spunky young Lady Marian, faithful daughter of the Earl of Huntingdon, and loyal friend to her childhood companion Robin Fitzooth (Richard Todd); though he is the son of her fathers head forester, she eventually falls in love with him despite the social barriers. However, Rice’s Marian has a distinctly independent turn of mind. She defies the Queen Mother’s orders and slips out of the castle disguised in a page-boy’s livery, seeking out her friend Robin, who has become an outlaw in Sherwood Forest. Her actions ultimately help prove that Robin and his outlaws are King Richard’s real friends and that Prince John is a traitor. This independent turn of mind in Joan Rice’s Marian stands in sharp contrast to her later and better-known Disney counterpart, the vixen in the popular 1973 animated feature 'Robin Hood' directed by Wolfgang Reitherman. Although beautiful and charming, the vixen Marian is actually a rather passive little lady (again, King Richard’s ward); almost obsessed with marriage and children, she never makes a decision on her own, and the story would work just as well without her. Unlike Rice’s Marian, then, the vixen Marian never claims agency for herself. Perhaps this second Disney Marian is a subtle slap in the face of the women’s movement, which was gaining momentum in the early 1970’s, while Joan Rice’s 1952 Britain-filmed Marian could be depicted as somewhat independent.
Recently, Disney released the 1952 live-action film in its limited-edition, budget-priced classics series of videotapes, so perhaps more people will get to know Joan Rice’s lively, independent-minded Lady Marian; or perhaps not, as Disney does not spend major advertising dollars on budget-priced limited edition releases."

Sherron Lux

(To see all posts about Joan Rice please click on the label marked 'Joan Rice' in the right-hand panel or below).


Clement of the Glen said...

Joan Rice
Maid Marian
Walt Disney's Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men

Dan said...

While it is nice to see an appreciation of Joan Rice from any source Miss Lux's article is, alas, filled with childish fixations about the independence of women which detracts from the analysis itself.

A pity that writers seem unable to refrain from injecting their prejudices into what should be a simple appreciation of the subject.