Behind the Scenes at Denham Studios

Filming the final scene at Denham Studios of Robin Hood

Many of us have often wished to be at Denham Studios during the filming of The Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men in 1951. Well - at least this incredibly detailed photograph (above), goes somewhere to fulfilling our wishes. It has been sent in by our regular contributor -Neil.

We can see Joan Rice (Maid Marian) hugging Robin Hood (Richard Todd) shortly after he has been made the Earl of Locksley by the returning King Richard the Lionheart. To see our picture strip of this scene, please click here.

Detail - showing Joan Rice, Richard Todd, James Hayter and Ken Annakin

Many of the production crew are visible in this remarkable image, including director Ken Annakin, standing alongside James Hayter (Friar Tuck). Also several of the 'outlaws', including Ewen Solon. Notice also, the huge Technicolor camera, which is possibly being operated by the director of photography, Guy Green.

Neil says:
"That is the Studio scene at Denham showing the filming towards the end  in Robin Hood’s Camp – but this is the original photograph and absolutely crystal clear  whereas we will both have seen this one in a smaller less clear version – I think from the Old Monrovians visit there at the time.

I think this scene would be filmed at the end of July 1951  - and I have a feeling that we would be on our holidays in St.Albans at  that time - so as a small boy with my parents and brothers, would have been passing the Denham Studios at that very moment

The other picture with Walt Disney, Richard Todd and Elton Hayes, we have seen before – but again this is a bigger clearer one.

I am so happy with these. Please use them on your site if you wish."

In the second picture that Neil has kindly sent, we can see Walt Disney on the Nottingham Castle set, during his visit to Denham Studios in June 1951. Alongside him is Elton Hayes (as the minstrel Allan-a-Dale) and Richard Todd (Robin Hood ‘disguised as a soldier of the Sheriff’). 

In his autobiography (Caught in the Act, Hutchinson 1986), Richard Todd describes the ‘solid’ dungeon walls as being constructed of pure wood and plaster.

Elton Hayes (Allan-a-Dale), Walt Disney and Richard Todd (Robin Hood)

Filming of Walt Disney’s Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men began on 30th April 1951. Ken Annakin, the director of the movie, in his autobiography (So You Wanna Be a Director, Tomahawk 2001) says that 10 weeks into shooting, Disney made a surprise visit to the set. Annakin describes how the great man had photos taken with the stars of the film in the Nottingham Square set on the lot. This also included ‘numerous’ pictures with Joan Rice (Maid Marian) on the archery field.

This fits with Richard Todd's (Robin Hood) memoirs where he describes Disney coming over from London to Denham near the end of June 1951 and how he was thoroughly pleased with the way things were going.

Coinciding with Walt’s stopover, the then Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth II) paid a visit to the Denham Studios, accompanied only by her lady-in-waiting and equerry. The future queen was shown by Walt Disney and the art director Carmen Dillon around the outside sets and the costume department. Perce Pearce, the producer of Walt Disney’s Robin Hood, insisted that filming should continue as normal as that is what the young princess wanted to see. So for about twenty minutes she stood quietly in a dark corner, while production carried on, then gave a friendly wave and slipped out of the stage. I wonder what scene it was she saw being filmed?

To read more about the production of the film, Walt Disney, or see the picture gallery please click on the labels in the side bar.

A huge thank you to Neil for sending these images.


Clement Glen said...

Special thanks to Neil for providing these two fantastic photos.

Neil said...

These pictures really impressed me with first their clarity and then their detail and as most of us that read Clement's excellent Blog here are so familiar with the film, we can immediately see the scene that they are filming. Also we get a glimpse of the set -beven more thrilling to see