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March 19, 2018 2:31 pm

Rewind Review: Unappreciated Disney Classics – Robin Hood (1973)


By Joe Brandeis, G+ profile.


For the next few Rewind Review posts, we wanted to touch about some great animation work. We couldn’t narrow it down to one — and we thought, there are a bunch of classic Disney movies that are just forgotten, unappreciated, or pushed aside by the bigger hits like The Lion King, Cinderella, Aladdin, and so on. Sure, those hits are awesome (That is why they are hits, right?) but you might not know what you’re missing..


First off –

Robin Hood!


Ooo de lally! This is usually seen as a weaker adaptation of the Robin Hood tale, and had a low production budget, so it is not renowned as a Disney classic in leagues with Beauty & The Beast or The Little Mermaid. Nonetheless, Robin Hood is a great piece of animation – colorful, exciting, and entertaining.

Robin Hood is an 1973 American animated film produced by the Walt Disney Productions, first released in the United States on November 8, 1973. The 21st animated feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series, the film is based on the legend of Robin Hood, but uses anthropomorphic animals instead of people. Foxes, rabbits, turtles, bears, chickens, mice, and so on. The range of characters is large, with all shapes, sizes, and stereotypes. It’s fun and upbeat throughout the movie, even when Disney pulls at those heartstrings that they so often do.

According to TV Tropes: This movie was the first in the Disney Animated Canon that was made completely independent of Walt Disney, who had died in 1966 – The Aristocats was personally greenlit by Walt. Therefore, it is one of the most visibly – how can we best put this kindly? – economical Disney animated films. The studio was suffering financially during its production, resulting in plenty of recycled animation from a multitude of films. Luckily for the company, the movie made enough money in the box office to pull through. That didn’t prevent Disney from viewing it as one of their worst entries – during production, and even after the box office success. Additionally, the movie was poorly received critically and has ended up branded “Rotten” on Rotten Tomatoes. But in contrast, fan reaction has always been almost unanimously positive, to the point where the movie has been Vindicated by History through 80s and 90s kids who know it from VHS.



Initially, the studio considered a movie about Reynard the Fox. However, due to Walt Disney’s concern that Reynard was an unsuitable choice for a hero, Ken Anderson used many elements from it in Robin Hood.

Robin Allan writes in his book Walt Disney and Europe that “Ken Anderson wept when he saw how his character concepts had been processed into stereotypes for the animation on Robin Hood.” According to Ward Kimball and Ollie Johnston, one such casualty was the concept of making the Sheriff of Nottingham a goat as an artistic experiment to try different animals for villains, only to be overruled by the director who wanted to keep to the villainous stereotype of a wolf instead.


Reuse of footage, sound, and voice actors

As the film was allotted a small budget, the artists referenced footage from previous animated features. A dance sequence in the film was traced from sequences originally produced for Snow White and the Seven DwarfsThe Jungle Book, and The Aristocats.


Alternate ending (spoilers!)

The alternate ending (included in the “Most Wanted Edition” DVD) is a short retelling of the story’s conclusion, primarily utilizing still images from Ken Anderson’s original storyboard drawings of the sequence. As Robin Hood leaps off of the castle and into the moat, he is wounded (presumably from one of the arrows shot into the water after him) and carried away to the church for safety. Prince John, enraged that he has once again been outwitted by Robin Hood, finds Little John leaving the church, and suspects the outlaw to be there as well. He finds Maid Marian tending to an unconscious Robin Hood, and draws a sword to kill them both. Before Prince John can strike, however, he is stopped by his brother, King Richard, having returned from the Crusades, is appalled to find that Prince John has left his kingdom bleak and oppressed. Abiding his mother’s wishes, King Richard decides he cannot banish Prince John from the kingdom, but does grant him severe punishment. King Richard returns Nottingham to its former glory (before leaving for the Third Crusade), and orders Friar Tuck to marry Robin Hood and Maid Marian.

A short finished scene from the planned original ending, featuring King Richard and revealing himself to vulture henchmen Nutsy and Trigger, appeared in the Ken Anderson episode of the 1980s Disney Channel documentary series “Disney Family Album.” This scene, at least in animated form, does not appear on the “Most Wanted Edition” DVD.


We aren’t getting sentimental – check out Robin Hood and give it a chance!

Check out the trailer:

Joe Brandeis

Blogger for Film Forecaster. Sharing, writing, and reading about all the big move buzz! Writing reviews and giving props to independent films.