Picture Strip 14 : Walt Disney's Story of Robin Hood

Part 14 of Laurence's fabulous picture strip of Walt Disney's original movie the Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (1952). To see previous pages of the picture strip, please click on the label below.

If you want to learn more about the making of this wonderful film or the legend that inspired it, please click on the relevant subjects in the sidebar.

Hacked Hotmail

I had my Hotmail account hacked into last night and many of my friends were sent spam using my name.So please delete any emails you have received from me recently. I would like to apologise for any inconvenience this might have caused. I have contacted Hotmail and scanned my computer for Malware and other nastiness! I have changed my security codes so hopefully this will be the end of it.

Robin Hood and Edward II

I have recently posted about the ground breaking discoveries of Joseph Hunter which were first published in his book ‘The Great Hero of the Ancient Minstrelsy of England, Robin Hood his Period etc. Investigated and Perhaps Ascertained’ in 1852. This generated a lot of interest, so below is a complete list of the entries to Robin Hood, the Valet of the King’s Chamber during the reign of Edward II (1307-1327).

Included is an account discovered by Sir James Holt in the 1980’s, which was in a fragment of a day-book of the chamber, for the period 14th April to 7th July 1323. Under ultra-violet light it reveals that this Robin Hood was already in Edward’s service before he visited Nottingham in November 1323. This discovery by Holt partly dismantles the coincidence of detail between the ballad and historical fact that Joseph Hunter based his book on, but interest still remains amongst modern day historians. After Edward II's execution of Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, in 1322, the earl's supporters committed wide-spread acts of vengeance, including the pillaging of the king's deer in the royal forests, as in the ballad ‘ A Gest of Robyn Hode’ (C.1500) Edward II himself travelled to the area to investigate these disturbances.

In the Geste, ‘comly’ King Edward hearing of the death of the Sheriff and that his deer in his forest have been killed, visits Sherwood disguised as an abbot. Eventually Robin recognises the king and asks for mercy for himself and his followers. But the king will only grant them a pardon on condition that they leave the forest and come to court:

"Yes, for God," than sayd our kynge,
"And therto sent I me,
With that thou leve the grene wode,
And all thy company,

"And come home, syr, to my courte,
And there dwell with me."
"I make myn avowe to God," sayd Robyn,
"And ryght so shall it be.

"I wyll come to your courte,
Your servyse for to se,
And brynge with me of my men
Seven score and thre."

Edward II's Chamber Accounts

A day book surviving from the Royal Chamber between 14th April to 7th July 1323 mentions on 27th June a Robyn Hode received wages as porter of the king’s chamber from 5th till 18th June. In the fragment of the Account book, £6 is paid out to thirty four, including Robyn Hod, Simon Hod, Wat Cowherd and Robin Dyer.

In P.R.O. E101/380/4 there are payments of 3d a day starting on the 25th April 1324 to ‘Henri Lawe, Colle de Ashruge, Will de Shene, Joh. Petimari, Grete Hobbe, Litell Colle, Joh. Edrich, Robyn Hod, Simon Hod, Robert Trasshe.......... (And nineteen others).’

On May 17th 1324: ‘ To Robert Hod and thirty one other porters for wages from the 22nd April to May 12th , less five days for Robert Hod when he was absent.’

On June 10th 1324: ‘To Robyn Hod twenty seven days wage less one day absence deducted for absence.’

On June 30th 1324: 'Twenty Six porters received their wages but Robyn Hod received nothing.'

On July 22nd 1324: ‘To Robert Hood and six other valets being with the king at Fulham by his command from the 9th day of June arrears of wages at 3d a day for twenty one day’s pay.'

August 21st 1324: ‘Robin Hod had eight days pay deducted for non-attendance.'

October 6th 1324: ‘Robyn Hod received full pay.'

October 21st 1324: No pay to Robyn Hod, absent altogether.

From October 21st to November 24th 1324 the Clerk of the Chamber paid Robyn Hod for 35 days, but deducted seven days because of absence.

November 22nd 1324: ‘To Robyn Hod formerly one of the porters, because he can no longer work, five shillings as a gift by commandment.'

In the ‘Geste’ Robin has spent all his money on entertaining and on gifts to knights and squires. Only two of his men, Little John and Scathelock, are left with him. Robin longs to go back to the greenwood, and begs leave of the king to go on a pilgrimage to a little chapel in Barnsdale that he had built:

Robyn sawe yonge men shote
Full ferre upon a day;
"Alas!" than sayd good Robyn,
"My welthe is went away."

"Somtyme I was an archere good,
A styffe and eke a stronge;
I was comted the best archere
That was in mery Englonde."

"Alas!" then sayd good Robyn,
"Alas and well a woo!
Yf I dwele lenger with the kynge,
Sorowe wyll me sloo."

"I made a chapell in Bernysdale,
That semely is to se,
It is of Mary Magdaleyne,
And thereto wolde I be".

We know now that this Robert Hood/Robin Hood was already in the King’s service before his visit to Nottingham; perhaps he was given the five shillings because he was too old and sick to work. But whatever way you look at it, this is indeed a remarkable coincidence between ballad and historical fact. What do you think?

I would like to thank Kathryn Warner for the use of her picture of Edward II’s Chamber Journal of 1322. She has a fantastic blog dedicated to this much maligned king at http://edwardthesecond.blogspot.com/ 

Edward II may have met the Robin Hood!

Albie On Tour

Regular visitors to this blog will be familiar with Albie. In the past he has sent in some fantastic video clips, pictures and information on Nottinghamshire’s traditions and famous landmarks. Well now Albie has set up an account with You Tube and has uploaded 16 video documentaries of his visits around the world. They are extremely interesting. Albie says:

“I have put 2 clips of Newark Castle at the 'albieinthewoods' channel too - with some commentary from me to describe the place.”

I thoroughly recommend both Albie's sites on YouTube:



There is now a growing section in the right hand panel of this blog, showing links to the sites of our multi talented band of Whistling Arrows!

Picture Strip 13 : Walt Disney's Story of Robin Hood

Part 13 of Laurence's fabulous picture strip of Walt Disney's original movie the Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (1952). To see previous pages of the picture strip, please click on the label below.

If you want to learn more about the making of this wonderful film, its production crew and the lives of the legendary actors that appeared in it, please click on the relevant subjects in the sidebar.

A Rare Treat Tomorrow!

One of the most underrated films of all time will be shown on British television tomorrow, Monday 18th October on Channel 4 at 1.15 pm. It was Walt Disney’s second live-action movie in this country, using RKO’s frozen profits after the War and has been described at the best British Technicolor film ever made. Disney’s ‘Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men’ (1952) uses a whole multitude of emerging talent behind, and in front of the camera, including stars like Richard Todd, Joan Rice, Peter Finch, James Robertson Justice, Hubert Gregg, James Hayter, Patrick Barr, Elton Hayes and Martitia Hunt. Please let me know what you think of it!

Richard Todd as Robin Hood by Laurence

I am sure you will agree that this is yet another stunning piece of artwork by Laurence.  The light and the colour are beautiful and the tension, as Robin (Richard Todd) draws his bow, is captured superbly. I do hope he can share some more paintings with us in the future.

Joan Rice's Obituary

This was Joan’s obituary in The Daily Telegraph, which was very kindly sent to me by her nephew, Richard Keeble:

“Joan Rice who has died aged 66 [1997], was a Rank starlet of the 1950’s; her best remembered role was Maid Marian in Disney’s Robin Hood (1952) opposite Richard Todd.

Hers was a Cinderella story without the glass slipper. She was discovered as a waitress at the former Lyons Corner House in Piccadilly and signed to a film contract after winning the Lyons ‘Miss Nippy’ contest of 1949.

With no formal acting training, she was sent to the Rank charm school and rushed into a stream of mostly minor roles in British films of the day. One ‘His Majesty O’Keefe,’ (1953) was a Hollywood production set in the South Seas, with Burt Lancaster, but it made little impact at the box office.

Joan Rice never found the big role that might have established her on the international scene. She dropped out of the cinema in the 1960’s to build a less glamorous life in provincial repertory.

She claimed never to miss her movie career, and later in life, at the instigation of her father-in-law, she took up live acting to repair the omissions of youth. She toured in ‘Rebecca’ and ‘A View from the Bridge,’ her favourite play. She never attracted bad notices, but none of these productions reached the West End and she became a forgotten figure to many of the cinemagoers of the 1950’s who fondly recalled her English rose complexion and shapely contours.

After seven years she abandoned acting completely because she disliked being away from home for such long periods. She was tempted into television only once – as a contributor to a ‘This Is Your Life’ show for Richard Todd, but dried up before the cameras and had to be steered through the programme by Michael Aspel.

Joan Rice was born in Derby on February 3rd 1930, one of four sisters from a broken home. Her father was imprisoned for child abuse and she was brought up for eight years in a convent orphanage in Nottingham. After early experience as a lady’s maid and a housemaid, she left for London with half a crown in her purse and took a job as a waitress with Lyons at £3 a week.

Balancing tea trays and negotiating obstacles gave a natural poise that stood her in good stead in the company’s in-house beauty contest. The prize was a week’s promotional tour in Torquay ( a town to which she returned 20 years later in a revival of ‘The Reluctant Debutante’ at the Princess Theatre).

As winner of the ‘Miss Nippy’ contest, she was introduced to the theatrical agent Joan Reese, who went to work on her behalf and secured a screen test and a two-line bit part in the comedy, ‘One Wild Oat.’ Her first substantial role, however, was in ‘Blackmailed’ (1950), a hospital melodrama, starring Mai Zetterling and Dirk Bogarde, in which Joan Rice played a good time girl.

It caught the eye of Disney and led to the role of Maid Marian, in which she was hailed as the “new Jean Simmons.” Rank however, seemed unable to capitalise on this. In the 11 years that she was active in British films, Rank offered her only supporting roles in films dependant on a large cast of character actors.

‘Curtain Up’ (1952), for example was about a seaside repertory company, ‘A Day to Remember’ (1953), about a darts team on a one day excursion to France, ‘The Crowded Day,’ (1954) about the staff of a department store coping with the Christmas rush and ‘Women without Men,’ (1956) about a breakout from a women’s prison.

Only ‘Gift Horse’ (1952), a traditional wartime naval picture, had quality, yet her role as a Wren was subsidiary to Trevor Howard, Richard Attenborough and Sonny Tufts. In ‘One Good Turn’ (1954), she was wasted as a stooge to Norman Wisdom. After ‘Payroll’ in 1961, she effectively called it quits, returning for only one last picture, ‘The Horror of Frankenstein’ in 1970.

After leaving show business, she lived quietly with her beloved Labradors, Jessie and Sheba, took work as an insurance clerk and later set up an estate agent, letting accommodation in Maidenhead through the Joan Rice Bureau, though she had only one member of staff.

She smoked heavily and suffered from asthma and emphysema, which kept her largely housebound for the last six years.

She married first, in 1953 (dissolved in 1964), David Green, son of the American comedian, Harry Green; they had one son. She married secondly, in 1984, the former Daily Sketch journalist Ken McKenzie, who survives her [1997].”

This blog is dedicated to the memory of Joan Rice, so if you met her, or have any information about her you would like to share,
please get in touch at disneysrobin@gmail.com.

Picture Strip 12 : Walt Disney's Story of Robin Hood

Part 12 of Laurence's fabulous picture strip of Walt Disney's original movie the Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (1952). In this we see Peter Ellenshaw’s very atmospheric interpretation of Sherwood Forest, which both Laurence and I admire very much.

To see previous pages of the Picture Strip, please click on the label below.

Mickey Wood's Tough Guys Agency

This was a small article I found in the Super Cinema Annual 1954. It featured a piece on Mickey Wood (1897-1963), the self-defence and physical training expert who was manager of the agency Tough Guys Limited which provided stunt people for films, including Disney’s Story of Robin Hood (1952).

"Through the leafy green thicket of Sherwood Forest came a wiry little man on a shaggy forest pony. Without pausing, the rider galloped the pony straight into a wide and deep stream which cut its meandering way through the trees. The spray shot up around them, hiding them from view for an instant. Then came the deep twang of a bow string. A long slender arrow sped through the air. With a sickening thud, it caught the rider full in the chest, even as he reached mid-stream.

He threw up his arms and fell from the pony, to land with a splash in the water. The frightened animal was left alone to struggle to the other side. The body of the man floated downstream, face upwards, arms outstretched, with the deadly arrow sticking up from his chest for all the world like a sail-less mast of some stricken ship-

Recognise this scene?

Well it was taken from ‘Robin Hood,’ that wonderful R.K.O. film which so faithfully portrayed the adventures of England’s ever-green hero of Sherwood Forest.We went to interview Mickey Wood and found him in his office in Wardour Street, the centre of all the world’s film companies in England. He is a quiet, unassuming man in his early fifties and his office walls are filled with pictures of the many hair-raising stunts which his own tough experts have performed, or have taught well known film stars to do.

Yes we can hear you saying, “I suppose that was a dummy which a good marksman shot off the pony. It was jolly well done though.”

It certainly was well done! But that dramatic scene was no fake-the man on the pony was alive and surprisingly enough, has lived to perform many other daring stunts. For the rider was none other than Mickey Wood, principal of the ‘Tough Guys Stage and Screen Agency.’

Rupert Evans with James Hayter

And yet Mickey had an operation when he was a boy which would have been enough to kill many people, if not make them permanently disabled. He was trepanned and to this day [1954] he carries in his head a silver plate as a grim relic of this operation.

But Mickey Wood refused to let this put him off. At school he became the schoolboy boxing champion, took up wrestling and self defence and later on became the light-weight champion of Great Britain. Besides self-defence, he became an expert in swimming, diving, swordsmanship and riding.

During the last War, Mickey taught the Commando troops all he knew about self-defence and many of them must have found that knowledge invaluable when they came to grips with the enemy.

Peter Finch with Rupert Evans

Today, his ‘Tough Guys Agency’ has about three hundred and fifty people on its books, all of them experts in their various ways-ranging through boxers, wrestlers, high-divers, fencers, archers, car-crashers, circus acrobats and many other “tough guys.” But not only men-for Mickey has a number of extremely able young ladies who are willing to risk life and limb in the cause of stunting.

Micky’s first film-fight came in a film of George Formbey’s called ‘George in Civvy Street,’ when he worked with Kid Lewis, the famous boxer. Recent films in which Mickey has taken part are ‘Robin Hood,' already mentioned, ‘High Treason,’ ‘The Wooden Horse,’ and ‘Ivanhoe.’ The latter being the most spectacular and the one in which a big team of Mick’s people were engaged.

They had to leap from the castle battlements. Take part in fierce fights with swords, maces and all amidst clouds of arrows. But don’t run away with the idea that the fights such as you see here are haphazard affairs-not a bit of it!

These stunt men and women are tough, but they have no wish to throw their lives away just for the sake of a good picture. Every fight is carefully rehearsed and, very often, when two men are engaged in combat, practically every blow is planned beforehand. This is absolutely necessary; otherwise it could easily lead to serious injury or perhaps the death of one of the combatants.

Ivanhoe (1952)

A good example of this spectacular combat was the fierce fight between Ivanhoe and the Norman knight before Prince John. The heavy battle axe and the ball-and-chain mace were no toys as you will probably realise if you saw the film and the dents the two men put in each other’s shields!"

Super Cinema Annual 1954

Picture Strip 11 : Walt Disney's Story of Robin Hood

Part 11 of Laurence's fabulous picture strip of Walt Disney's Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (1952). To see previous pages, please click on the label below.