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  • Writer's pictureCollin Souter

Week # 28: "Robin Hood"

(Originally published on 7/15/22)


Robin Hood

Run time: 83 min.

Release Date: November 8, 1973.

Where/when I first saw it: On video in 2007, I think

How I watched it today: Blu-ray, Tuesday evening

After two movies without Walt’s direct input that stuck with a tried and true Disney formula (“The Aristocats” and “Bedknobs and Broomsticks”), the studio eventually had to cross that bridge into the unknown without any of the Disney mainstays. While a few of the artists from the golden era managed to hang on for a while, “Robin Hood” finds the studio trying their best to create memorable characters out of old legends and without the Sherman Brothers to contribute any memorable songs. The result is a mixed bag of all-too-familiar characterizations and uninspired bits as well as a couple memorable songs and the welcome presence of Peter Ustinov as the King.

Picturing Ustinov in the recording studio doing this role is where most of the fun lies for me. Most of the rest of “Robin Hood” feels like ideas carried over from the animated sequences of “Bedknobs,” complete with another sporting tournament (in this case, archery) that drags down the momentum. Phil Harris is on hand once again to voice a bear character (Little John) that is way too similar in appearance, spirit and tone to Baloo in “The Jungle Book.” It all feels like everyone involved in the production is playing everything too safe and, as a result, it never really gets under the skin and the animation is simply adequate.

All that being said, it does go down easy enough and there are moments of good cheer that make it a fan favorite for some. I do enjoy the opening credits with the parade of characters strolling across the screen to the catchy tune being played. Brian Bedford’s vocal performance as the titular character also works well. It’s all just very slight in the end, so going in with low expectations probably helps. Again, this has many fans who appreciate it more than I do and their devotion can’t be begrudged really. I’d sooner watch it over most of the live-action versions.


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