Thursday, October 04, 2012

Ollie Johnston's Favorite

But not Dr. Toon's.

... In the summer of 2003 I was asked by animation historian Jerry Beck to join his team of five contributors in writing The Animated Movie Guide. Jerry asked me to evaluate and critique the Disney films from Snow White through Home on the Range ... When asked to give readers and audiences my opinions about the Disney manifest, I put Robin Hood (1973) in the birdcage-lining category.

Robin Hood is simply an incompetent film by Disney standards, flawed in far too many places to work as an animated feature. I came to this conclusion after multiple viewings, comparison with other features both contemporary and past, and examination of the movie using critical skills I worked hard to develop over forty years of watching animation of all stripes.

One man's poison is another's scrumptious feast.

In 1978, I asked Mr. Johnston (fabled animator, and the last surviving member of Disney's "Nine Old Men") what his favorite Disney animated feature -- out of all the classics he worked on -- happened to be.

He looked at me and said: "Robin Hood."

"De gustibus non est disputandum"


Anonymous said...

jester: I'm 18 and I hate modern movies...... except animated films...... depends. I'm gonna stay away from these type of movies:
wimpy vampire
chick flicks
dance movies
action- some dude takes off his shirt every 5 minutes.
glee musicals
cg\live action

That new looney tunes movie will suck culo.

David said...

Proving again that great animator/actor doesn't necessarily equal great director or screenwriter.

Steve Hulett said...

I didn't get into Ollie's reasons in depth, but I gathered he was fondest of "Robin Hood" because he really, really liked the animation he had done.

Great animation, true. Story, not great.

Kenneth Elliott said...

Ollie should have mentioned Chicken Little. Talk about a feature film that has no business being called one!

As for tangerine8's post:

you seem pretty bent on rejecting anything to do with females in lead roles. Just to equalize things, here are movies I won't watch:

1) action movies where dashing young men kill and receive no consequences (or bruises).

2) epic movies where old, bearded men stair into the camera lens and tell audiences how bad the world is.

3)Stupid wisecracking animated CG movies with animals.

4) movies where men dress up in tight costumes/ capes, and save the world from some cliche problem, destroying the city in the process. (All of this is done while the woman is either rescued from death or stays at home washing the dishes.)

5) animated movies, where the rendering and background detail is awesome, but the story is the same old, recycled trash about respecting one's father.

Floyd Norman said...

I'm sure Ollie had a ball animating on the film. The old guys were simply having fun. The movie itself was pretty darn awful and I said so on occasion.

In time, my "bad attitude" and "poor footage" got me fired off the film and booted out of Disney. Best thing that ever happened to me.

Juan Carlos Valdez said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Juan Carlos Valdez said...

I like Robin Hood, I think it's not up to the high standards of the other classic Disney films, but it was good. It has some of my favorite animations and I love the designs. The story was decent, it wasn't the best, but it was entertaining. I don't think you should judge a film on the comparison to the other films to determine if it's good or not. Judge it on its own merits for the quality, then you can fairly judge it if the film was well made. After which, you can fairly judge it on where it belongs when comparing it to the other films. But to say it's a bad film is incorrect. And the last thing I would do is to line a bird cage with it... I would use Avatar, Home on the Range, Monsters vs Aliens, and Shrek 3 for that.

Tim said...

I have two letters from Mr. Johnston. In one he mentioned "Robin Hood" and how much he enjoyed working on it. But he admitted its shortcomings, saying that the audience never connected with the tongue in cheek humor.
The other letter was written while he and Frank were working on the Bambi book. In that letter, he stated that Bambi was "perhaps our favorite".
Maybe he had different favorites depending on what day it was, or what triggered a fond memory.

Steve Hulett said...

Think it depended on the year. When you have a lot of chldren, you're fondness for each can vary from day to day.

Christopher Sobieniak said...

This is why I don't take critics too seriously, though I had fond memories of Robin Hood right around the time I turned 7 like little "Skippy" in the film (as it came out on home video 28 years ago). Yes, it's a mess, but the animation/design was the only thing I cared about all these years.

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