Robin Hood (1973)

RobinHoodPosterCountry music legend Roger Miller provides the voice (or “pipes” as we say in the Nashville music biz) for the narrator, Alan-A-Dale, the wandering minstrel who torments everyone with really obnoxious hit songs like “Oo-de-lally” when he isn’t giving us the “on the other side of Hazzard County” interludes that explain absolutely nothing.

Alan-A-Dale is depicted here as a rooster which causes the viewer to make an unfortunate comparison to Rock-A-Doodle which is also about singing rooster. Don Bluth, who worked on Robin Hood, directed that one and it makes you wonder what’s up with a guy that would use Alan-A-Dale from this movie as an inspiration for another film. It’s not healthy to be that obsessed with singing roosters.

The action begins long after Robin has formed his band of Merry Men since the first bit of business involves Robin and Little John dressing up as women fortune tellers to rob Prince John as he and his coach travel through Sherwood Forest. How come when a guy has to go into disguise, it always involves granny panties, lipstick, and falsies? Whatever happened to a pair of glasses and a fake beard?

This particular operation (like all of Robin Hood’s schemes in this film) is pretty forgettable and run of the mill and leads to the people of Nottingham getting taxed even more heavily than before. (Thanks Robin. Hope you at least had fun wearing heels.)

Following that debacle is perhaps the worst sequence where these little animals are playing and lose their ball or shuttlecock or whatever it is that 13th century talking British animals played with and they have to go on the grounds of Prince John’s castle to retrieve it.

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The animals run into Marion and her attendant Klucky (a fat chicken or “fat chick” in today’s parlance) and the talk soon turns to love and Robin Hood. Marion and one of the little rabbits that idolizes Robin play act like they’re a couple and – I can’t continue or I’ll dry heave all over the keyboard. Let’s just skip to the big archery tournament.

I didn’t really hate the tournament as much as I did most of the rest of the movie, but that only lasted until the tournament degenerated into one of those deals where all the characters are running after and into one another while background music that sounded like surf music played. I thought it was Alan-A-Dale, not Dick Dale!

And even when I despise a movie like I did this one, I’m a big enough fellow to give it credit for what it got right so I can honestly say that it was quite refreshing that when Robin went undercover this time, he kept the leather bustier in the closet and showed up disguised as a stork!

All of this left Prince John a bit peeved and it wasn’t long before Friar Tuck got himself imprisoned for high treason by the Sheriff and is scheduled to be executed at dawn. Of course all this happened only after we had to gag on a particularly noxious scene involving some little bitty mice giving their last farthing to Friar Tuck’s church.

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Robin hits the streets as a blind beggar to get the lowdown on this and eventually re-hits the streets as a vulture guard, while Little John disguises himself as the Sheriff (now, those disguises actually make some sense) and proceed to bust not only Friar Tuck out of prison, but the entire population of Nottingham!

Seems that they had all been locked up after they couldn’t meet their ever increasing tax burden. I think that was the least Robin could do, since it was always his smart-aleck doings that embarrassed the Prince and the Sheriff into raising taxes.

Perhaps realizing the reekiness of this movie, Disney then wrapped things up really fast and the next thing you know Robin and Marion are married and all the bad guys are breaking rocks in their prison stripes, King Richard having returned to reclaim his throne.

This was a very trying time for the people of England, but more so for the people of home video who paid more than a farthing to sit through this.

A rotten script that never developed Robin beyond a fox in a green hat and that relegated Marion to about two scenes, while spending entirely too much time with the big lummox Baloo the Bear, I mean Little John, completely scuttled this version of Robin Hood.

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The script also presented us with a story that felt like episodes of a continuing series (can you imagine the horror?) with Robin Hood constantly outsmarting the bad guys followed by the bad guys taking it out on the townspeople.

Almost completely absent was Robin and his Merry Men kicking it in the forest. Where were the scenes showing us why Robin inspired loyalty? Why he was a great leader and a lovable rogue? Why Marion loved him? And where was Will Scarlet? I love that guy!

You know, it’s been about a billion years since Errol Flynn owned the role of Robin Hood back in the Triassic Era, but no one has ever come close to capturing the essence of what the story demands of the character: he needs to be dangerous and tough enough to live on the run and tempt the wrath of the British military, but likeable enough to be a folk hero that regular folks don’t fear.

I think Disney should just give up on trying to make a kid-friendly Robin Hood movie, mainly because Flynn’s version still fills the bill. There’s plenty of action, color and funny moments and it never gets too heavy or slow so that kids will get bored.

In contrast, this DVD probably isn’t even safe to have in your home because one of the “bonus features” involves a sing-along with that “Oo-de-lally” and there’s always a chance that your kid will accidentally activate it.

© 2014 MonsterHunter

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