Welcome to this blog of my film reviews. Some have been drafted carefully on paper, others I have sat and typed. I'm going to make it clear right now that I don't expect you to agree with my (re)views, or to like my style of writing. However, I want my views to be just out there and open, as a person who wishes to express himself from deep within. Feel free to comment and debate with me, but I do ask that you are civil and not harsh, as any comments which are basically swear words and insults will automatically be deleted. Also any text that is in orange (and often bold) is a Hyperlink to either a source, or a previous post for background reference.
Sunday, 19 September 2010
The legend of Robin Hood is one of the most beloved of all time and there is still vast amounts of debate over whether it is actually true. Although the legend has been brought to life on screen many times this is the most unique and, arguably, the most memorable one. All of the characters are anthropomorphic animals, and each one is an accurate animal match-up to their character. Robin Hood (Brian Bedford) is a fox, sly, cunning and swift, just like the heroic outlaw is described in the legend. Little John (Phil Harris) is a bear, which is the perfect choice as there is much emphasis on the irony of Little John's name in the legend as John is said to have been by far the largest of the Merry Men, and, on hind legs, a bear is at least seven-feet-tall. The main antagonist Prince John (Peter Ustinov) is a lion, as the lion is considered the King of all animals, as well as the fiercest and most cunning of them all as well.
The plot goes like this...
Prince John is ruler of England after getting his hypnotic right-hand snake Sir Hiss (Terry-Thomas) to get John's brother King Richard (also Ustinov), also a lion, to go into battle in The Crusades. He is rising taxes with the help of local law enforcer the Sheriff of Nottingham (Pat Buttram), a.k.a. 'Old Bushel-Britches', a wolf, and keeping the money for himself. After being robbed blind and humiliated by Robin and Little John he puts out a reward for Robin's capture, but nobody is willing to turn in Robin as he is giving them back the money that was taken from them, with a little extra. Furious at the townsfolk Prince John trebles the taxes and anyone unable to pay them is jailed. Robin later hears that Friar Tuck (Andy Devine), a badger, is being sentenced to death as he stood up to the Sheriff and even hit him with a wooden pole, and so he and Little John stage a huge breakout, which, if successful, will get everyone out of jail, or, if a failure, will get them all killed.
WOW! What a film! The characters are absolutely fantastic. Little John disguising himself as Sir Reginald, Duke of Chutney, to get in there with Prince John, and becoming the poshest cartoon character ever in doing so, is comic gold. Equally as funny is Prince John's tantrums and cries for his late, beloved mother whenever things don't go his way, which is a massively entertaining contrast to the majestic, cunning side seen when he is on his throne giving orders to Sir Hiss, among others, as is his constant abuse of Hiss, who has a bad habit of irritating him. Arguably the most comical character is Scottish hen Lady Cluck (Carole Shelley) who gives off the impression of being lady-like, only to then take down so many of the royal soldiers and guards (hippos, elephants and rhinos) in a fight at the archery tournament when she, Robin, Little John and Robin's love interest Maid Marian (Monica Evans) take on Prince John, the Sheriff and all of the royal guards. That fight is one of the highlights of the film, being turned into a proper farce by its quick pace and over-the-top action, and is also very detailedly animated. Among the highlights of that fight are a load of hippos and rhinos ending up in a large tent and running around the field in it - a runaway tent trampling and bowling over anything in its path is so fun to watch; Lady Cluck taking down rhinos and hippos with ease; and Prince John hiding behind a barrel of ale when Robin knocks his sword out of his hand.
The subplot of Robin and Marian's love is a very heart-warming one as they both stayed in love with each other despite not seeing each other for several years, and the way they declare their true feelings for each other when it looks like Robin is about to be executed will bring a tear to your eye. Couple that with the lovely characters and animation and you have a truly excellent Disney animation on your hands that will entertain both old and young without fail.
Stars: Brian Bedford, Phil Harris, Peter Ustinov, Monica Evans, Terry-Thomas, Pat Buttram, Andy Devine, Carole Shelley, Ken Curtis, George Lindsey, Billy Whittaker, Roger Miller, Dana Laurita, Dori Whittaker, Richie Saunders, John Fiedler, Barbara Luddy, J. Pat O'Malley, Candy Candido.
Oscar nomination: Best Original Song (Love - George Bruns, Floyd Huddleston).