The Riddle Of Robin Hood
About a year ago I discovered Ken Polsson’s highly informative website ‘Chronology of the Walt Disney Company.’ It was whilst browsing through his comprehensive lists of Disney’s historical landmarks and films that I first 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 Ken, but he later confessed that he knew very little else. So I put an appeal on this website in September 2007 for anyone that might have seen this mysterious film.
In January an anonymous message appeared under my posting of Hubert Gregg, informing me that they had a copy of the film in their possession and left an email address. It was Neil Vessey, who went on to kindly describe in great detail, scenes from this very rare black and white 13 minute film. I could hardly contain my excitement and when he later went on to post eight images taken from the film, I was ‘over the Moon!’ (A picture from the Riddle of Robin Hood taken by Neil, of Walt Disney and Perce Pearce can be seen above). This is seeing cinematic history at its very best and makes working on this blog so worthwhile.
Neil described to me, how this unique footage, firstly shows Walt Disney in his studio office at Denham, talking to Perce Pearce the producer of the film and Lawrence Edward Watkin the writer of the screenplay. It also shows some ‘still shots' of their ‘fact finding’ visit to Nottingham with Richard Todd (described on this web site under ‘Film Production’) in 1951. There are clips of Richard Todd (Robin Hood) and one of the ‘merrie men,' being driven, by open car to the set. Later two more of the ‘outlaws’ arrive on bikes and possibly Martitia Hunt (Queen Eleanor) on a motorbike! They all make their way over a bridge, close to where Friar Tuck’s dog is later filmed attacking the sheriff.
Friar Tuck’s dog is also shown with its trainer, while the camera crew film Peter Finch, as the Sheriff of Nottingham, running through the river. Richard Todd in his full costume, can be seen practising the quarter staff fight with former Champion at Arms, Rupert Evans and their is even a clip of the lovely Joan Rice (Maid Marian) leaving her house in Denham and cycling to the studios. Carmen Dillon, the set designer, is also shown at Denham Studios, with models of the castle and drawbridge explaining to Walt Disney how those particular scenes would later be filmed.
In one clip, Ken Annakin, the director of the movie, is arranging the dramatic shot of King Richard’s departure for the Crusades, also Guy Green is shown being pushed along on one of the massive Technicolor cameras, filming the climatic scene in which Robin Hood (Richard Todd) leads the Sheriff (Peter Finch) at knife point towards the castle’s drawbridge. Fascinating stuff!
If only Disney could release ‘The Riddle of Robin Hood’ and The Story of Robin Hood’ together!
A very special thank you goes out to Neil Vessey.
And if any one else has information, or memories of this production or Walt Disney’s Story of Robin Hood, and its cast members, please get in touch at :