I was thrilled to discover this press picture (above) for sale on Ebay recently. It is a very rare image of Walt Disney’s legendary producer Perce Pearce (1899-1955) and Richard Todd (1919-2009) practising a quarter-staff fight during their fact-finding trip to Nottinghamshire before the filming of the Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men.
Below is an extract from the magazine Photoplay dated June 1951 about the trip:
“When Walt Disney first announced that he was to make ‘Robin Hood’ he received a letter from the Sheriff of Nottingham inviting him to visit the City Library and inspect the collection of over a thousand books of ‘Robin Hood’ lore. Walt Disney replied that he himself would be unable to go to England until the film actually went before the cameras, but that he would extend the kind invitation to Richard Todd and his production unit under the supervision of producer Perce Pearce.
When Richard Todd and the production unit visited Nottingham this spring , they were received by the Lord Mayor, the Sheriff and other civic dignitaries and were afforded every possible local facility to retrace the footsteps of the famous outlaw.
Richard Todd absorbed a mine of information which gave him a penetrating insight into the character of Robin Hood when he came to portray his historic counterpart. The production unit, too, covered many miles of Robin Hood country, to ensure that local settings reproduced at Denham Studios under the supervision of Art Director Carmen Dillon, should maintain the highest degree of authenticity.”
Some of the places that the production crew visited included Nottingham City Library, Nottingham Castle, Newstead Abbey, Edwinstowe, Sherwood Forest including Robin Hood’s Larder (now gone) and the Major Oak, Ollerton, Creswell Crags, Nottingham’s Caves, the Salutation Inn and the Trip to Jerusalem Inn.
Walt Disney’s production crew included producer Perce Pearce, script writer Lawrence Watkin, historical advisor Dr. Charles Beard and art director Carmen Dillon.