Toon Talk: Robin Hood DVD
Page 1 of 3
by Kirby C. Holt
MPAA Rating: G
16th Century Fox
Robin Hood, the legendary English folk hero, has evolved through a myriad of cultural permutations over the centuries, most notably in the movies. Like such other immortal characters as Tarzan, Sherlock Holmes and Dracula, Sir Robin has been the subject of multiple motion pictures since the dawn of cinema, from the silent era (1922's Robin Hood starring Douglas Fairbanks) to the blockbuster years (1991's Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves starring Kevin Costner), ranging from the serious (1976's Robin and Marian starring Sean Connery) to the spoofed (1993's Robin Hood: Men in Tights starring Cary Elwes). (For the movie's best Robin Hood, see "Out of the Boxâ€? below.)
Certainly the most kid-friendly of all Robin Hoods was Disney's 1973 animated animal take on his medieval misadventures, but even that wasn't Disney's first pass at the archetypal archer: 1952's The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie (sic) Men (starring Richard Todd) was one of the studio's first live action productions. Unfortunately, that film has not yet made its way to DVD, so it's a missed opportunity that Disney home video didn't think to pair it with their toon version for a special "Most Wantedâ€? "double featureâ€?.
Nevertheless, although the new "Most Wantedâ€? edition DVD (available today) offers what may be only a slight improvement over the previous "Gold Collectionâ€? (read: bare bones) edition, it will likely be the best version we're ever going to get of what is generally regarded as a fun yet minor entry in the Disney canon.
This Robin Hood is definitely representative of its time, the "after Waltâ€? period typified by an episodic storyline, uninspired music, villains more slapstick then threatening, and the ubiquitous penultimate death (but, you know, not really dead) scene. While not as accomplished as the moody The Rescuers, Robin at least surpasses the rambling The Aristocats and the dreary The Fox and the Hound with some fine character animation and Roger Miller's folksy contributions to the song score (including a pre-"Hamster Danceâ€? "Whistle Stopâ€? and the bleak "Not in Nottinghamâ€?), not to mention an impressive roster of voice talent ...