Below are some interesting comments made on the IMDb site by tobisteiner72 about Walt Disney’s Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (1952). I intend to show a few more reviews from various sources in the future.
“A winner in every way. Lush Technicolor costumes and sets (featuring matte work by Peter Ellenshaw), crisp pacing, convincing--i.e., non-hammy--acting, all highlighted by vivid dialogue.
Now, as to specifics, here are some of my favorite aspects of this undeservedly overlooked classic. First (and most obvious, but hey, it's pretty important): Richard Todd's Robin. I fell in love with him when I saw the movie on Wonderful World of Disney (I was born the year it was released, 1952), and have followed his career with interest ever since. His archery and other swashbuckling actions are persuasive but not gimmicky, his romantic aura is compelling but not slick, and his leadership qualities are authoritative and incisive but not overbearing. And he has a sense of humor!
Some of the less obvious reasons I rate this film a "10": The framing device of Allan-a-Dale (and the lovely singing/playing of Elton Hayes); within that, I love the small, unassuming, sweet-natured dog who follows the minstrel wherever he goes. The dialogue and business shared by the Archbishop of Canterbury (Anthony Eustrel, I believe), Prince John (Hubert Gregg), and Queen Eleanor (Martita Hunt). The childhood friendship of Robin and Marian that gradually ripens into romance. Thus, when she disguises herself as a page in order to seek out Robin Fitzooth to prove his loyalty to king and country, her emotional stake lends sympathy and believability to her actions. The economical scene-shifting that takes Robin from his quarterstaff skirmish with Little John to his brook-side battle with Friar Tuck--which in turn leads, seamlessly, to an ambush by the Sheriff of Nottingham and his goons. Spoiler Alert (in case another is needed)! Check out the grisly but tastefully handled demise of the Sheriff--getting squashed and/or bisected between an inexorably closing drawbridge and the castle wall! No matter how many times I see this film (and it's been quite a few), this scene always makes me rub my hands and cackle gleefully.
I could cite many other reasons why I love this film, but if you ask for one quality that sets it apart from every other Robin Hood film I've seen--including one very famous (and in my opinion, vastly overrated) supposed classic--I would say: Heart. As in warm, true, and loyal. And it will warm the hearts of viewers not jaded by overblown yet hollow swashbucklers and pompous, pretentious epics.”
I hope tobisteiner72 does not mind me posting this review or for that matter IMDb, but it is a good example of the general agreement- felt I am sure amongst our loyal band, The Whistling Arrows- that Disney’s Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men deserves recognition as one of the best films to come out of England during the 1950’s.
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