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  Robin Hood The Libertarian Version
Year: 1973
Director: Wolfgang Reitherman
Stars: Brian Bedford, Phil Harris, Andy Devine, Monica Evans, Carole Shelley, Peter Ustinov, Terry-Thomas, Pat Buttram, Roger Miller, George Lindsey, Ken Curtis, John Fiedler, J. Pat O'Malley
Genre: Comedy, Animated, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Here's the minstrel Alan-a-Dale (voiced by Roger Miller) to tell us the story of Robin Hood (Brian Bedford), the famed medieval outlaw, in the way that he says it really happened. Robin was walking through the forest with his best friend Little John (Phil Harris) when they encountered a group of soldiers, and had to escape pretty quickly, with Robin acknowledging that their aim was definitely improving. His main target, however, was the dastardly Prince John (Peter Ustinov), who he delighted in foiling and stealing from his vast amount of tax money - but the Prince wasn't going to let Robin have it all his own way...

Robin Hood was probably the worst production to come out of the tricky period of Disney moviemaking that was the seventies. The animation was sketchy and as a cost-cutting measure often recycled from previous films, the songs were poor, and for those who enjoyed the legend of this character as a typically English item of folklore would balk at the Americanisation of him and his cohorts here. Not that there was much to do with Merrie Men, as it seems Robin had no followers but Little John, the other good guys preferring to live their own lives away from the hero and not in Sherwood Forest dressed in Lincoln green.

In fact, this Robin and Little John would make quite a nice homosexual couple, with John even an actual bear, doing the cooking and washing for his companion; they certainly enjoy being around each other, and it's only Robin's supposed pining (believe it if you like) over Maid Marian (Monica Evans) that make you think wedding bells could soon be splitting the gentlemen up. But enough revisonism, there's too much to be getting on with here as it is, with the denizens of Nottingham played by such unmistakably English wildlife as foxes, rabbits, er, lions, rhinos, elephants and alligators. There's a badger Friar Tuck (Andy Devine) as well, apparently designed by someone who doesn't know what a badger looks like.

You could argue that this is an American film from an American entertainment behemoth, so they could chop and change elements of the traditional story as they saw fit: put a Scottish chicken playing American football in it, why don't you? But this could also be judged as a betrayal of the famed legend's roots, and by separating it from its original culture you have a bastardisation of what in the United Kingdom is a much beloved tale. Therefore here Robin is "Rawbin", Alan-a-Dale sings country and western songs (which you may recognise as The Hamster Dance played at the correct speed), and events here have as much relation to England's heritage as The Jungle Book had to India.

We do get variations on the myths, with Robin competing in the archery tournament to win a golden arrow and a kiss from Marian, all the while dressed as a stork (quite the master of disguise, this one). But where the story should take on the corrupt authority figures in a proto-socialist kind of manner, here all the concentration is on those taxes enforced by the villainous monarchy, as if to teach the tykes watching that capitalism should be left unbounded by the state and any contribution to society is better off left in your own pockets. Elsewhere, the humour is broad enough to leave the film resembling a big screen Hanna-Barbera cartoon, the attempts at tearjerking fall flat, and overall this Robin Hood is far too tacky to have much resonance with its derivation. But The Rescuers was next, and that was a lot better. Music by George Bruns.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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