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Film Review: Robin Hood (1973)
In 1973, Wolfgang Reitherman released Robin Hood, based on the English folk legend of the same name. Starring Brian Bedford, Monica Evans, Phil Harris, Roger Miller, Andy Devine, Peter Ustinov, Terry-Thomas, Carole Shelley, Pat Buttram, George Lindsey, Ken Curtis, John Fielder, Barbara Luddy, Billy Whitaker, Dana Laurita, Dori Whitaker, Richie Sanders, Barbara Luddy, Candy Candido, and J. Pat O’Malley, the film grossed $32 million at the box office.
Robin Hood and Little John are outlaws, stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. Wanted by Prince John, reigning in the absence of his brother King Richard, Robin works to find a way for him and Maid Marian to be together.
Turning the characters of the popular English folktale into anthropomorphic animals, Robin Hood is an average film at best. It takes the titular hero through all sorts of situations to deal with, from robbing Prince John’s carriage and showing up at a birthday party to the archery tournament and freeing everyone from jail. There aren’t a lot of opportunities for character development, yet this actually works in favor of the film as it deals with a folk hero and a popular villain, subjects usually given not much more than the basic static characterizations. Robin Hood is the noble, faithful and unwavering hero to the greedy, cowardly and feckless Prince John. The film is enjoyable with most of the entertainment coming in seeing Robin get himself into and out of his predicaments along with watching the prince break down into further madness, culminating in the plan to draw out Robin via hanging Friar Tuck.
The film does provide many moments for Robin to show off his heroism and cunning. The beginning of the film is a good example, where he and Little John rob Prince John’s coach by posing as female fortune tellers. Robin distracts the prince through appealing to his ego while Little John goes about taking everything, including the solid gold hubcaps. This may seem more like a villain’s plan, but he’s then seen giving the money from said encounter to an impoverished family, showing everything he does is meant for the betterment of society. The archery tournament is a notable part of the film as well. Robin enters for a chance to kiss Maid Marian disguised as a stork and his true identity is discovered. The ensuing chaos between all the common people and Prince John’s forces is fun to watch, especially in the casual discussion about marriage Robin and Marian are having while fighting the guards.
In addition to the plot, the film presents good secondary characters, one of which is Sir Hiss. He’s incredibly competent as a sidekick and is able to see through every disguise Robin Hood and Little John come up with, though his concerns go unheard with Prince John claiming he just wants attention. Hiss complements the prince too, always sucking up to him and stroking his ego. Still, he does have his moments of self-awareness, seen in the rant he gives in the beginning, centering on him previously warning that the two gypsies were Robin Hood and Little John. Hiss also has a moment near the end of the film. Throughout the story, he’s had no problem with Prince John’s acts and continues to do so until he plans to hang Friar Tuck which genuinely shocks him.
The Sheriff of Nottingham as Prince John’s primary enforcer is another good secondary character. Initially, it seems he’s just doing his job as a tax collector, as noted in the song he’s first seen singing in which he says he’s just doing his job. However, the film continues to linger on him and exhibits the sadistic side he has. Not only does he express glee in collecting the last coin from someone who is poor and disabled, the sheriff shows he’s not above looking for hiding places, such as a cast, and taking coins from what he perceives to be a blind beggar by loudly clinking a coin and collecting whatever rises from the cup. Moreover, he’s the primary physical threat Robin faces and actually does display a considerable amount of force.
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Golden Screen Awards
- Golden Screen
- Best Music, Original Song (For the song "Love")
- Best Recording for Children (For the original motion picture soundtrack)