My opinion right after watching movie
My opinion right after watching the movie is that it is somewhat entertaining. When I mean somewhat, I mean that I was never bored by the film. Yes, there are scenes that drag on for too long, some filler, a flat cast, and a weird choice of music. There is more creativity in this one compared to The Aristocats, but I personally do not know about it story wise (because not much happens). This is the 5th film out of 7 (starting with One Hundred and One Dalmatians) to be directed by Wolfgang Reitherman, and the final of 3 films to have Phil Harris voice a character.
This film was supposed to be about Reynard the Fox (when Disney was alive), but he felt that Reynard was too unlikable to be a hero, and ultimately shelved the project. It was picked up soon after Disney’s death, but was changed into Robin Hood, having many of the ideas and sketches for the shelved project in this film. Because the animation department did not have a lot of money, they had an extremely small budget, causing them to reuse a lot of animation from previous films.
So the film starts with the narration of a rooster named Alan-a-Dale (Roger Miller), explaining the situation about the entire England being overtaxed thanks to Prince John (Peter Ustinov). As Robin Hood (Brian Bedford) and Little John (Phil Harris) are coming up with another plan to steal money to give to the poor, Little John is confused about if they are good or bad guys, but Robin says they are good. Prince John’s carriage comes by and they decide to dress like female gypsies to get the bastard’s money, and go for John. They steal his jewelry and money, which Sir Hiss (Terry-Thomas) notices, but the annoying John tells him to shut up.
So we go to the village to see Sheriff of Nottingham (Pat Buttram) taking all the money he can from people, from tipping casts, and stealing birthday money from a boy and an old man (Robin in disguise). He gives the little boy who ends up being named Skippy (Billy Whittaker). This is used as a plot device to introduce us to Maid Marian (Monica Evans) and Lady Kluck (Carole Shelley). The only useful thing in this scene we find out is that her and Robin had a child relationship, but broke up because she needed to become royalty or something like that. She still misses him. We also get some filler with the children and Lady Kluck fooling around.
So now Robin Hood is so lovestruck that he burns up the food he is making. Alright; so yall have not seen one another in several years, don’t know how much the other changed in those several years, and they are acting like they went on a date and made love the previous night? Wouldn’t they be lusting or liking a child in that sense? We are supposed to feel bad for them, as Robin does not think it will work out, but we have not seen any reason as to why they like one another.
So Prince John hosts an archery competition to trap and arrest Robin Hood. So in the 15 minute scene, Robin Hood (who is disguised as a bird) dominates the archery competition, proposes to Marian and talk about having many children, is about to get his head cut off, and a huge ass unnecessary fight scene between the knights and villagers takes place. Prince John is extremely annoying and he needs to be amputated. I am sick of his mommy issues and his thumb sucking.
So they are singing the country song Phony King of England (they say this in the film. Why is there country music in older England? Who the hell knows), where they are dissing Prince John. This song is passed down through the entire village, which enrages John and causes him to triple the taxes.
Weeks later, most of the village is in jail because they cannot afford to pay their taxes, while Little John and Robin Hood are MIA. When Friar Tuck (Andy Devie) gets arrested, Robin and Little John know that they have to break him out, which is exactly what Prince John wants. So we get this long and suspenseful climax scene where the people are broken out of the jail, and Robin manages to steal back most of the money, but he is found out, and all of the guards, Prince John, and Sir Hiss are after him, with Robin faking sinking, so they can leave him alone.
So King Richard returns (How did he return? Apparently, he was under a hypnosis by Sir Hiss to go far away, but that is never explained or clarified), and his brother and sidekicks are prisoners working the mines. Robin Hood and Marian gets married, and Skippy and Little John are going with them; uhhhh, the point of a honeymoon is to spend time, you know JUST the couple. Also, Skippy says that they are going to have children and who is going to watch them? So his parents agreed to this? He is a kid himself. Anyways, the film ends with them riding off.
The characters are somewhat charming at best, or plain roll eye worthy. None of them are particularly deep or anything, but I have suffered worse.
The animation in this film is better than The Aristocats. It is less scratchy, and the coloring are nice. While the backgrounds are weird, there are a lot of cell-flipped scenes, and the infamous dance scene, I could tolerate it. Not the best or worst Xerography I have seen.
The music is…… confusing. Sometimes I hear folk, other times I hear jazz, and another moment there is country music playing. It is extremely confusing and an odd music choice, since country music and jazz did not exist then. When they do folk, it is decent. None of the songs are really memorable though.
Reception at Release
When the film was released on November 8th, 1973, it did decently, from what I found. It was clear at this point that the animated films were not the first thing on the company’s minds, as most of their money came from the theme parks and merchandise. The reviews were positive, people liking it for it’s fun. “Love” was nominated for Best Song in the Academy Awards in 1974.
Things have changed in the past 40 years when it comes to this film. It is one of the lesser known, weaker received films in the entire canon, as many consider it as weak.