A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

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 | , , ,


  1. As someone with experience in the matter, I can say that this film, more than any other, is pointed to as the seed, the “Inception” of the affinity for anthropomorphic characters that characterizes the “furry” idiom.

    Comment by Josh | November 17, 2010 | Reply

    • Which would be another reason to enjoy the movie. Amanda and I also love that it is referenced in the Wes Anderson Fantastic Mr. Fox movie.

      Comment by tanatoes | November 17, 2010 | Reply

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