The Riddle of Robin Hood # 4

Above is a still from Walt Disney’s short promotional film The Riddle of Robin Hood. It shows the screen writer and ballad lyricist Lawrence Watkin, researching medieval music for the movie The Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (1952).

The fourth part of the The Riddle of Robin Hood is shown below:

"In any case, wherever you have ladies, you are certain to have love songs. To ensure that his re-creation of Alan-a-Dale’s romantic ballads are historically correct; writer Lawrence Watkin consults the tune-smiths of the Twelfth Century.

“I’ll always find you,
No matter where you may be...”

Contemporary research brought other facts to light. On their shopping expeditions for venison dinners and wealthy tourists, Robin’s men used arrows not only as weapons but as a means of communication. Whistling arrows served to convey messages from one part of the forest to another.

Now the chase for Robin’s elusive spirit on celluloid was joined in earnest. Models of actual castles and villages that were the scene of his exploits were constructed. If Robin could be re-called, he would certainly find no lack of familiar atmosphere."

To read earlier parts of the Riddle of Robin Hood, please click on the Label.

Miss Robin Hood

I couldn't resist sharing with you this poster from the 1940's. It is Miss 'Robin Hood' Hunter, apparently advertising an archery competition.

Join The Whistling Arrows!

Are you a fan of Walt Disney’s Story of Robin Hood? Are you a regular visitor to this blog? Would you like to become a Whistling Arrow?

Mike had the idea of creating our own group of enthusiasts-so I came up with the Whistling Arrows-a loyal band, who love the underrated movie, collect the memorabilia, are keen to get the DVD released worldwide and are interested in the legend.

So to prove your worthiness and join the Whistling Arrows in Sherwood Forest you first have to answer the 10 questions below:

1. Give the name of the actress who played Tyb.
2. What is name of the street in which Wynken de Worde printed the Geste of Robyn Hode?
3. What was the FULL name of the author of the screenplay of Disney’s Story of Robin Hood?
4. When was filming due to begin on The Story of Robin Hood?
5. Name the cruise liner that showed The Story of Robin Hood on July 1st 1952.
6. What was Joan Rice’s FULL name?
7. Who was the expert sword-master and fight arranger on the Story of Robin Hood?
8. Name the author of Piers Plowman who first mentioned Robin Hood in English literature.
9. “Prince John has given a barrel of English ale, from the ripe ------- brewing, for all you brave rogues who drew bows before the Queen.” What was the month?
10. How many marks was King Richard the Lionheart ransomed for?

All the answers can be found on the blog. Please post them to and the successful candidate will not only become a member of The Whistling Arrows but also be sent a unique picture of Joan Rice at the London premier of Walt Disney’s Story of Robin Hood in 1952! Good Luck!

The Monovian at Denham Studios in 1948

The Sir George Monoux College of Walthamstow, London was founded in 1527. The school was a selective boy’s grammar school until 1968 and included among its notable students - or Old Monovians- are Fred Pontin, Johhny Dankworth and Teddy Sheringham.

The extract below is taken from the school magazine, known as The Monovian, which describes a visit to Denham Studios in 1948; three years before filming began on Walt Disney’s Story of Robin Hood, the last major film production to be made there.

“Entering the studios, we were assailed by an indescribable din of hammering, rehearsing, and raucous shouts of “Quiet everybody!" Walking down the corridor, we were overtaken by a big fat man, probably a producer, with a lighted cigar behind his ear and with scripts dropping out of his trouser's pocket. He was furiously yelling, "Where ze hell's ze continuity girl?" Half a minute later we bumped into a small bespectacled girl with a worried look in her eyes. When she saw us stopped and asked if we'd seen the producer.

On Stage One, a celebrated film star was bashing his leading lady with a length of lead pipe. On Stage Two we met the producer again. He had found the continuity girl and now was looking for the script.

Something rather in this vein we expected; but Denham Studios aren't at all like that. We walked down a long, cream corridor with little noise and few people. All the way down one side were the offices and dressing-rooms; on the other, the entrances to the stages. For a film studio Denham seemed remarkably sane.

There are six stages, three large and three smaller. We walked on to one of the large stages, where Laurence Huntingdon was directing Hugh Walpole's school story, Mr. Perrin and Mr. Traill, from the script by L.A.G. Strong. Our first impression was of huge lamps glaring at us from all directions and consuming vast amounts of electricity. When we cast our glance above and around us, however, we saw that we were in a vast, empty, wooden, hangar-like structure, the roof of which, sixty feet above was obscured by the beam and platforms slung in mid-air and used for the construction of sets. On our left, a large taut canvas of roughly daubed grey scenery, the Cornish coast, came to an abrupt end. In the middle of the stage were three sets: one in process of construction, one of the master's dining-room, and one, brightly illuminated so that it seemed like an island of light amidst the half-dusk of the rest of the stage, of the masters' common room.

In this last was concentrated all activity. A gentleman sitting on the camera-trolley was moving his chariot backwards and forwards trying to have the lighting entirely satisfactory. A young man at roughly two minute intervals said quietly into the microphone the single word "Cecil." Six or seven bored gentlemen in masters' gowns sitting on the set were the stand-ins. Twenty yards or so back behind the window of the masters' common room was a huge arc-lamp, the sun. Within the set, against one of the plaster painted walls, five lamps shone down on the stand-ins, while nine lamps on platforms above the walls illuminated the whole scene. Everyone was very bored except the man on the chariot, the man who was saying "Cecil," and us.

We talked with Edward Chapman, one of the supporting players of Mr. Perrin and Mr. Traill whom you will remember as George Sandigate in It Always Rains On Sunday. He said, “I'm playing with David Farrar, Marius Goring and Greta Gynt. I'm the only sane man on the staff; I make rude remarks about all the others."

Hardly had we finished with Mr. Chapman when we were whisked away to meet David Farrar, and an utterly bored David Farrar. A big, beefy man with a still camera took three publicity photographs of David Farrar showing two young enthusiasts around the studios. As soon as the photographs were taken, our guide disappeared into his dressing-room and was never seen again.

After lunch we visited the offices of some of the Two Cities publicity men. Each film has attached to it one or two people who do nothing but send publicity to the central Rank Publicity Office. In the offices, for Mr. Perrin and Mr. Traill were piles of typewritten duplicated sheets headed in glaring red "Two Cities Films Ltd,” full of information about the film for the daily and weekly press. But the offices for the publicizing of Hamlet were even more interesting. Photographs of the stars and scenes from the film were scattered about on chairs, on tables and on cupboards. We asked the publicity man how many and he said excitedly, "nearly a thousand! It's a record for the British film industry.”

We also saw the props department, where they stock everything from stage-coaches (of which they had two) to telephones (of which they had. thirteen). What props haven't got, however, is supplied by the department next door which, out of plaster and Perspex, makes everything from a clockwork spider to the castle in Hamlet.

Then we visited another stage. On this, John Paddy Carstairs was directing a comedy-thriller, Sleeping-car To Venice, with Jean Kent and Derrick de Marney. Scattered about on the floor of the stage was half a restaurant car, with the director rehearsing his player on, the platform of a French station, on canvas, with Saille d'Attente and Billets, and the door of a ship-building firm's factory. Behind the restaurant car was a revolving vertical drum on which was painted the scenery which you see through the train windows; fuming and dripping away on the floor was a steam-pipe, for locomotive effects. The whole restaurant car was built on "swingers" to simulate the movement of a train.

Denham Studios, we learnt, were built a year or so before the war by Sir Alexander Korda. During the 1939 slump they were sold to Mr. J. Arthur Rank, who uses them chiefly for his Two Cities productions; they have the reputation of being more business-like than Pinewood, the sister studios, where Cineguild and The Archers do their work. But to us the most surprising thing about Denham was the absence of bustle. Nothing could be more untrue than that "description" at the beginning of this article; film-making evidently, is a. comparatively leisurely business and tends become extremely boring. Some other future presentations from Denham will include Hamlet, Vice Versa (from the Victorian comedy by F. Anstey) and a comedy, One Night with You. Now when you see those films, we guarantee you'll be fully convinced by the effects which Denham's technicians have produced. But we've been behind the scenes, and will films ever be the same to us again?”

R. E. Durgnat (Vm)

I am sure many of my readers would have loved to have walked around those studios in the spring of 1951!

The fascinating website is at

Young Robin Hood

This childrens book is titled, Young Robin Hood written by G. Manville Fenn and published by Henry Altemus Co. It contains twenty three illustrations and is dated from about 1906.

To see the full text click on:

Richard Todd in 1950

We have recently seen a picture of Joan Rice in 1950, so here is Richard Todd in that same year reading a script; could it be The Story of Robin Hood?
Sitting alongside him is his first wife Kitty (Catherine Bogle).

To read more about Richard Todd please click on the Label below.

Joan Rice in 1950

This is a very rare image I have discovered of Joan Rice apparently modeling hats at a Milliners Show in 1950!

This was possibly before she signed a contract with Rank, but if anybody has any more details, can they contact me at

For more information on her life, please click on the Joan Rice Label below.

Robin & Marian found in a Broom Cupboard!

Yet another Robin Hood discovery has recently been reported in the local papers. This time it is an extremely valuable Victorian painting depicting Robin and Maid Marian which was found by a cleaner in the broom cupboard of a Sussex workings men’s club.

The oil-on-canvas painting was discovered during a spring-clean of the 'unnamed' Sussex club and has been estimated by Bonhams auction house to be worth between £5,000 -£7,000. It measures 114.5 x 86.5cm (45 1/16 x 34 1/16in).

In the right hand corner of the painting is the monograph of Thomas Heaphy and the date 1866. Thomas Frank Heaphy was born on 2nd April 1813, son of the first president of the Society of British Artists, also called Thomas (1775-1835). Thomas visited Italy with his father in 1831 and developed an interest in Italian religious paintings and portraiture. He also published eight articles in the ‘Art Journal’ on the ‘origin of the likeness of Christ.’ Between the years 1859-1862 he exhibited a series of portraits of peasant women at the Royal Academy. He died in London on the 7th of August 1873.

This is one of the best 'Robin Hood' paintings I have ever seen. The more you look at it-the more you see. Notice the May blossom, Marian's bare feet and rosy cheeks, Robin's 'cross-bow', the attentive hound, Marian's set of keys and the opened chest filled with treasure. Wonderful!

British 'Story of Robin Hood' Poster (1972)

This poster advertising the 1972 release of Walt Disney’s Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men is the dynamic art-work of Arnaldo Putzu whose mainstay of work was found on British Cinema posters of the 60’s and 70’s.

Arnaldo worked in the chief film agency in Britain, run by one of the un-sung heroes of British cinema-the commercial artist Eric Pulford (1915-2005). In 1943 Rank invited Pulford to set up a design studio which later became known as Pulford Publicity. By 1963 it had evolved into the large London agency Downtown Advertising, which in addition to Rank and its Gaumont and Odeon Cinema chains, later held accounts for Universal, RKO, United Artists, British Lion, Columbia and Disney.

From the mid 1950’s Pulford employed a series of Italian artists and his studio eventually included 44 artists and photographers.

In about 1967 Arnaldo Putzu was brought over by Pulford as an in-house artist at Downtown Advertising and later for Feref Associates. Like the other Italians employed by Pulford, Arnaldo was very quick, normally taking about two days to paint a poster. Critics would probably vote his art work for Michael Caine’s gangster film Get Carter (1971) as one of his best.

During the 1970’s Arnaldo went on to become the regular cover-artist for the teen-age magazine Look-In; these days he is still happily painting in Rome.

Arnaldo’s 1972 poster for the re-release of Walt Disney’s Story of Robin Hood is typical of his flamboyant style. But it borrowed heavily from the original British poster of 1952, which in my opinion was far better. In his version the style is more graphic and the colours are darker; particularly the green. The image of Robin with his bow is far more menacing than the original twenty years earlier and Arnaldo has switched the positions of Robin and Marian which in the 1952 version was a straight copy from the publicity still.

I would be interested to know which you prefer.