|Allan-a-Dale with Maid Marian and Midge the Miller in Sherwood Forest|
This very rare image of Allan-a-Dale (Elton Hayes) with Maid Marian (Joan Rice) and in the background Midge the Miller (Hal Osmond) has intrigued me for quite a while. It's provenance is unknown to me, but it is a scene that was never used in Disney's live-action movie the Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (1952).
The picture shows the characters cautiously walking through 'Sherwood Forest', where they eventually meet up with Robin Hood and the rest of the outlaws. This was clearly shot on location in Burnham Beeches by Walt Disney's second film unit, directed by Alex Bryce.
Burnham Beeches in Buckinghamshire is a forest of outstanding natural beauty and been used by many film and television production companies down the years. To read more about the ancient woodland and a list of the movies and TV shows filmed there please click here.
|Areas used for filming by Disney at Burnham Beeches|
Disney's second unit filmed many scenes in an area of Burnham Beeches known as Mendelssohn’s Slope which is filled with ancient pollarded trees. Also at Middle Pond, where Robin (Richard Todd) and Marian (Joan Rice) took their romantic evening stroll, accompanied by Friar Tuck (James Hayter) and Allan a Dale (Elton Hayes) singing ‘Whistle My Love.’
|Perce Pearce (producer) Carmen Dillon (art director) and Alex Bryce (2nd unit director)|
Burnham Beeches was the location chosen by Walt Disney to be his Sherwood Forest, not only because of its close proximity to Denham Studios (12 miles approx.), where two of the huge sound stages were used, but also because of its amazing ancient woodland that was ideal as a backdrop to this classic tale. I have noticed a number of film web sites state that Disney’s live-action movie was the only Robin Hood tale to be filmed in Sherwood Forest. This in incorrect, but shows what a good choice Burnham Beeches was.
Sadly Walt Disney's Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men is not available on DVD in Europe. We can only hope that one day the Disney Organisation will see the error of its ways and release it worldwide, complete with missing scenes (like the one featured above) and outtakes.