A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 261 – Robin Hood (Disney – 1973)

Robin Hood (Disney – 1973) – November 16th, 2010

I love this movie. I will freely admit that I have “issues” with many other Disney movies. I’ve been overexposed to things like The Little Mermaid and Pocahontas, and I never saw Mulan but got inundated with merchandising for it and I flat out refuse to ever watch Disney’s Hercules. If I wanted to see The Lion King I’d get myself a copy of Kimba the White Lion. Sleeping Beauty never quite did it for me and while Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast are lovely to look at I’ve looked at them all I need to for the rest of my life. Pinocchio and Aladdin too, though we’ll be watching the latter eventually. They just never struck the chord with me that they struck with so many others and in many cases the insistence that they should and that something was horribly wrong with me for not being swept up by Disney-mania just turned me further against them.

But I love this movie. I love it passionately. Yes, it is a kid-friendly retelling of a classic story, adding in slapstick humor and Pat Buttram’s voice for laughs. It’s silly and goofy and Robin Hood and Maid Marian are foxes and Little John is a bear and there’s a rooster who sings and plays the lute and Prince John has a snake for an adviser and said snake wears a little cape and hat. It’s all so very Disney. It’s a musical, and it’s a romance, and it’s got cute little bunnies. And I love every bit of it. I’m not sure what separates it from the rest of the Disney oeuvre. But in my mind it is unique. It is the one that spoke to me somehow.

Maybe it’s just that it’s Robin Hood. I’m a bit of a sucker for scoundrels and thieves and all. Look at how much I enjoy the Ocean’s movies. And then there’s Han Solo, and I could name a dozen other thief/rogue type characters in books and television that are always far more interesting to me than the big burly hero types. So having the rogue be the hero? Fantastic! So there’s that. And yes, the fantastic portrayal of Robin Hood as a dashing fox with his charming accent and demeanor, who is so clearly the good guy and would only ever hurt the bad guys? That’s a big part of it. Not just any portrayal of Robin Hood will do. He’s got to be just the right sort of thief for me and this movie nails it. Possibly it’s the source of my love of the character type.

But it’s not just Robin, much as I love him. This movie is a wonderful little piece of animation as only the old school Disney stuff can be. I may not be a huge fan, but I won’t ever deny that the classic Disney films are beautiful. And while this isn’t a huge sweeping fairy tale, and there aren’t any ballgowns or whatever, it does have some great moments. I particularly enjoy the fight scenes just after the archery competition and when the little rabbits and turtle meet Maid Marian in the garden. There’s just something so sweetly perfect about those rabbits. And I think it probably works in this movie’s favor that there’s nary a ballgown to be seen. Maid Marian wears a simple dress, as does her nurse and all the other female characters are similarly low-key. I mean, I never wanted to be the fancy princess. I wanted to be the hero. Preferably with a bow and arrow. And Maid Marian jumps at the chance to dash off with Robin, and I don’t blame her one bit.

I think one thing this project is showing me is that I’m not as dead set against musicals as I’d always assumed I was. I’m just very particular about them. Incredibly particular. So much so that I think it’s probably best I just go on assuming I am dead set against them because then I’m not irritated when I don’t like a show tune, but I am pleasantly surprised when I enjoy a song mid-movie. And I do like the songs here. I hummed along with them from the very start. I just can’t help it, I guess. There’s something about this movie, music, foxes and all, and it makes me ever so happy.

November 16, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , | Leave a comment

Robin Hood (1973 Disney)

November 16, 2010

Robin Hood (1973 Disney)

I distinctly remember seeing this movie in the theaters. I was only one year old when it came out though, so it must have been a re-release. It seems odd, though, that they would have re-released this to the theaters. It’s not really a movie that needs a theatrical release. It’s a low quality, short, simple movie that feels almost as though it was made for the video market, although no such market existed in 1973. Heck, it’s even at the 4:3 aspect ratio of a standard television.

On a hunch I did a little IMDB research this evening as we watched this and found that it was part of a decade-long string of Disney animated films under the direction of a single man: Wolfgang Reitherman. There’s a distictive look to a Reitherman movie. They all have the same pencil drawn animation feel, the same look to the static painted backdrops. The animation is a notch above Saturday morning fare, but is still full of recycled loops, occasional dirty animation cells and has an overall very rough feel to it. From at least 1963 to 1977 every major Disney animated theatrical release seems to have been under the command of Ritherman. From the Sword in the Stone to The Jungle Book to The Aristocats to this adaptation of Robin Hood and on to The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and The Rescuers. Through the years the quality of Disney’s productions continued to stagnate until in the eighties such flops as Oliver & Company and The Black Cauldron nearly killed the Disney animation studios, and this movie was part of that decline.

Still, this is one of my wife’s favorite movies. The only Disney animated film she really likes (not counting Pixar films.) And I can’t deny that it has a simple charm to it. It’s like movie comfort food. It’s pleasant and inoffensive and goes down easy.

Part of the fun is in all the familiar voices in the cast. Roger Miller narrates and sings the kind of nonsense songs that were his thing (reminding me very much of his Muppet Show appearance where he sings about hats and rollerskating in a buffalo herd.) There’s the inimitable Peter Ustinov as the petty whining Prince John (and his brother King Richard the Lion Hearted.) (Oh, and of course Peter also made an appearance on the Muppet Show to my great delight.) Phil Harris reprises his role as Baloo the Bear from The Jungle Book, only here although he is still a bear he is Little John. And who could forget Pat Buttram’s warbling turn as the Sheriff of Nottingham? (I love movies that use Pat Buttram and so too did Robert Zemeckis, who used him in both Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Back to the Future III.)

Besides all that this is just a fun movie. It has goofy and ineffectual bad guys who never do much more than chase the always triumphant good guys and take prat falls. It has Robin Hood’s many fun disguises which are a delight to a young child since we can clearly see that it’s still him although his foes are completely taken in. It has romance and adventure and even a modicum of swashbuckling (though not much because the animation really isn’t up to it.)

This may not be my favorite Disney animated movie, but I completely understand why Amanda enjoys it so. It’s carefree and charming and silly. It’s got Roger Miller and Peter Ustinov. It has catchy songs (even when sung off-key) and it’s just a simple and relaxing thing to pop in the DVD player after a stressful day. I needed something tonight that required little thought or attention, and this movie was absolutely perfect.

November 16, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , | 2 Comments