An Interview with Ken Annakin

"I was interviewed by Perce Pearce, who was the producer and we got on very well. I hadn’t met Walt till he came over and visited the set while we were shooting.

In the planning of our picture, they were very determined that ours should be very, very true. We went up to Sherwood Forest, to Nottingham and the script was written as actually as it could be from the records. I thought we were probably making a truer picture than had been made before.
Now we didn’t have Errol Flynn, but all the things we had in the picture, were very British and very true. I mean, he [Walt] was making his picture, his version and I think we came up –with Walt’s help and insistence on truth and realism-as near as makes any matter.

He [Walt] didn’t stay very long on Robin Hood. He had a great trust in Carmen Dillon, who was responsible for the historical correctness. Everything, from costumes to sets to props and he- I’m not so sure why he was so certain- but he was dead right at having chosen her. And she did that picture and Sword and The Rose too. And his reliance was 100%. A director can’t go into every historical detail and so I would check with her also, pretty well on most things. And she would quietly be on the set and if we used a prop wrongly, she would have her say. Mine was the final say, as director, but one couldn’t have done without her.

Now Walt really-I remember him on that picture- having set the overall key of what he wanted- and seeing it was going the way he wanted- he trusted Perce Pearce as the producer, he came to trust me as the director. And I must say, I have never had Walt looking over my shoulder at anything.

I had never experienced the sketch artists and sketching a whole picture out. Now, that picture was sketched out by and approved by him. My memories of Robin Hood are basically that he visited the sets, maybe half a dozen times. He stayed probably 2 or 3 hours, maybe, while we were shooting. Not often 2 or 3 hours (laughs). And I remember that he used to go off to a place very near Denham where we were shooting. He used to go off to Beaconsfield and spend hours with the guy that had the best model railway, I think, in the world. And this was the beginning of his thoughts on Disneyland. Beaconsfield was just a place where, this guy had built up his model railway. Beaconsfield also has a studio, but the studio hasn’t any connection with that.

Then the film went back to here [America] and the whole of the post-sync work and the post production work was done. And the director was never called in to have anything you do with that. It wasn’t until I had made my fourth picture with Walt, which was Swiss Family that I was ever really allowed to do anything with the editing (laughs) or to say about the music or anything. But once you had, shot it, that was your job as the director."


Clement of the Glen said...

AnInterview with Ken Annakin

Walt Disney
Carmen Dillon
Film Production

Neil said...

Fascinating story about James Hayters son on the set at Denham. Would have loved to have been there and some insight into Behind-the-Scenes happenings are featured on the Riddle of Robin Hood promotional film which is a gem. As regards this scene where Robin meets Friar Tuck much of the scene is played out on a studio set - which is a breathtakingly good set designed by the now legendary Carmen Dillon. Then as they start their sword fight back past the tree, we switch to an outdoor shoot and this is where ,no doubt, the young boy shouted out to save his father, James Hayter. The location would have been at the back of Denham Studios - still part of the land - and on the River Colne at this point. For those who remember the earlier film Treasure Island, the lake at Denham was used for the scene where the rowing boats landed on the island and it looked great - never bettered. So sad that the old Denham Studios have gone. To film fans the world over this was indeed a magic, if short lived, world where for a few years we had a studio to rank in size and capability along with anything in Hollywood. The Riddle of Robin Hood shows a glimpse of the sheer size of some of the interior sound stages - mostly of the castle set which looked huge.