Over the last few years, interest in my Disney's Story of Robin Hood Facebook page has been growing and there are now 41 members. One new member, Brian Varaday, has very kindly sent me another example of what has become known on this blog as Robin Hood's Chair.
|The chair used in The Dark Avenger (1955)|
Brian sent me a still from the movie The Dark Avenger (1955) which not only starred Errol Flynn, but also had many people involved in its production who would have been familiar with the chair when it was first used on the set of Walt Disney's Story of Robin Hood at Denham Studios in 1951. Actors such as Peter Finch, Michael Hordern, Ewen Solon, crew members Guy Green, Alex Bryce and technical adviser Charles R. Beard had all previously worked on Robin Hood.
|The original chair used in Walt Disney's Story of Robin Hood (1952)|
It was while watching the classic television series the Adventures of Robin Hood (1955-1960) starring Richard Greene, that I noticed a familiar piece of furniture in the Sheriff of Nottingham's chamber. I was sure I had seen the highly decorated chair with its circular headrest and carved pineapples before.
|That chair in the Adventures of Robin Hood (1955-1960)|
I immediately paused the DVD and quickly grabbed my illustrated copy of Walt Disney's Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men. I was correct! It was the same chair that had been designed by Carmen Dillon and her art department for Disney's live-action movie in 1951. Somehow it had found its way to Nettlefold Studios and the ground-breaking set of the black and white television series.
As a young lad, these two versions of the Robin Hood legend had a huge influence on me. So you can imagine my surprise when I recently found, what I believe to be that very same chair (over thirty years later) in another all-time favourite of mine Robin of Sherwood (1984-1986).
|The chair used over 30 years later in Robin of Sherwood (1984-1986)|
I made a few enquires about this remarkable coincidence and received this message from a member of the Britmovie forum:
“I think it’s quite normal for props and costumes and even whole sets to be used in other films over the years. Studios normally had their own prop stores and there are also several large independent prop hire companies around London that have been on the go for years. I remember visiting one in Acton many years ago while helping a friend find some props for a theatre production; it was like an Aladdin’s cave with the proprietor cheerfully pointing out what other famous plays some of the props had been used for in the past.”
"I guess most of the props these days are located in private rental firms. In the old days before studios went four walls they contained huge prop departments on site. I know Pinewood had a massive prop dept so it’s not unusual for the same prop to pop up in many films and are now privately owned. I know when MGM Borehamwood closed they flogged a lot off in a huge auction and many went down the road to Elstree."
|The Robin Hood Chair in The Men of Sherwood (1954)|
A while ago another regular blog visitor kindly sent me stills of those chairs being used in another movie, The Men of Sherwood Forest (1954). This was the first of a trilogy of Robin Hood features made by Hammer Film productions and also their first colour movie. Recently some critics have described it as the possibly the worst sound film about the outlaw ever made! Although in my opinion, American actor Don Taylor gives a good performance as Robin Hood and Reginald Beckwith is an excellent Friar Tuck in this low budget romp.
|The Men of Sherwood (with chairs designed by Carmen Dillon for Disney in 1951)|
To read more about the work of art director Carmen Dillon, please click here.
If anybody reading this blog, knows of any other movies in which the props (particularly those chairs) from the Story of Robin Hood can be clearly seen (and if they still exist) please get in touch!