Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Robin Hood on DVD

Cartoon Brew points out that Disney's animated Robin Hood will be released on a special edition DVD on November 28.

This was the last animated feature that my background-artist father worked on from start to finish. The first time I saw it was in a third-floor sweat box in the old animation building, watching it back-to-back with "The Rescuers" (on assignment from Woolie Reitherman.)

What struck me back in 1977 was how involving and funny The Rescuers was, and how...well, lacklustre Robin Hood seemed to be. So I was stunned when, sometime later, I asked Ollie Johnston what his favorite animated feature was and he answered "Robin Hood." He explained it was his favorite because, he liked the characters he animated and particularly liked what he accomplished with the animation.

Which just shows to go you that, as story artists are mostly focused on sequences, acts and story arcs, animators are often paying more attention to scenes and moments through which their character is going than anything else. Oh yeah. And does the acting work?

I was working with Ken Anderson when I viewed RH, and remember seeing some of Ken's drawings for Robin and Little John that he still had up in his office. I was particularly intrigued with a long drawing of the leads surrounded by Robin's band of "Merry Men," which in this case was rabbits, squirrels, turtles, and a raccoon or two. Little of this group had found its way into the finished film, and I wondered why. Vance Gerry clued me in:

"Oh yeah, Ken did a lot of development on the outlaw band, drew lots of different animals in different kinds of costumes, nice stuff. But 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid' came out while we were developing 'Robin Hood', and Woolie decided to push it in the direction of a 'buddy picture' like 'Butch Cassidy.' Which he did."

So there it is, for better or worse. I know some people who like Robin Hood quite a lot. I'm just not one of them. I recommend the '38 version. Or even the picture that Douglas Fairbanks made. Either will give you Mr. Hood straight up. (Of course, you won't get Andy Devine, but you can't have everything.)


Anonymous said...

I love the animated Robin Hood (I'm 48; so does my daughter who is 15). The music by Roger Miller is wonderful and, you're right, the relationships between the characters are great. My husband writes the blog for Wild West Magazine and I fill in sometimes. May I quote you on the connection to Butch and Sundance?
Look at and click on wild west blog.

Anonymous said...

I have a fond place in my memories for "Robin Hood," but that doesn't make it a good film; it isn't. It is, along with dreck like "Aristocats" and "Sword and the Stone," a mess of a film, and a testement to what happens when animators have taken over the asylum. Brilliant animators, yes. But not directors. They didn't want to be challanged with original or interesting material, but wanted to get the "best scenes" or characters for themselves. Thank goodness folks like John Musker and Ron Clements, Ed Gombert, Brad Bird, and Joe Ranft,among others, pushed back for great STORIES and strong direction.

That said, my copy of "Robin Hood" should arrive early next week!

Anonymous said...

Would that be the same John Musker and Ron Clements that created Treasure Planet? :) Sadly, that extraterrestrial turkey featured neither good story nor strong direction.

Likewise, I'd have to agree that Robin Hood is a lackluster animated feature, but it's still a favorite of mine. And I can see why Ollie Johnston liked it so much: Despite its many flaws, Robin Hood features some of the best character animation ever produced at the Disney studios.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the blundering way I'm commenting here... But I am just discovering your blog. Wollie Reitherman was almost a mentor of sorts... I Was in the Navy at the time and wishing I were working for Disny instead. I don't know how to tell this but I've been wanting to share it with someone for 23 years. I told him on the phone...( I plundered the telephone book looking for his number he was listed) I told him I wanted to be an Animator more than anything....he invited me to his ranch...But in May or around May of 1985 he died in that sad accident. I was devistated and withdrawn from my said goal. I became a Television News Photojournalist instead. I've regreted not persuing my dream. And rememberd Woolie's kindness to me even though we never actually met.

Thanks for this outlet.
Dan Thompson
Phoenix, Arizona USA

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