This is the moment we’ve all been waiting for. Well, maybe not all of us… but all of us who had an inexplicable attraction to a cartoon fox at any point in our lives have definitely been looking forward to this part of the Disney Odyssey. We invited our friend Steve over to comment on the topic of foxuality and also British history and legend. As he is an avid nerd, lover of history and swordplay, and a RiffTrax enthusiast, I have to say – he did not disappoint.
The Film: Robin Hood (1973)
- This adaptation of the Robin Hood story went through a number of different treatments, including at one point an Old West setting. Originally, Disney had considered doing a film about the French folk tales of Reynard the Fox, but there wer some concerns that he wasn’t a suitable hero, so the story switched to Robin Hood – although the fox stayed.
- This is the first film in Disney history to have anthropomorphic animals – a huge milestone, since anthropomorphic animals are very prominent throughout later Disney films. It is also the first Disney film since Bambi to have no human characters whatsoever.
- In the “football” sequence, two actual football fight songs are used in the musical orchestrations: “Fight On” for the University of Southern California, and “On Wisconsin” for University of Wisconsin-Madison.
- A great deal of animation was reused for this film, in no small part due to the financial restraints on the company after the completion of Phase One of the Florida Project (aka BUILDIN’ THE DISNEY WORLD) This is perhaps the most notable film for recycled animation sequences, including:
- Maid Marian dancing in the forest reuses animation from Snow White as well as The Aristocats.
- Little John and Lady Cluck dancing in the forest reuses animation from The Jungle Book.
- Many moments featuring Sir Hiss are recycled from Kaa in The Jungle Book.
- The animals playing instruments in the forest is borrowed from The Aristocats.
- The elephant’s bugle being stifled is from The Jungle Book.
- In August 1998, the opening theme from Robin Hood (called “Whistle Stop” or “Oo-de-lally”) was used as the looping background music of early internet viral phenomenon The Hampster Dance.
- At least five of the voice actors are also featured in The Aristocats, including the voices of Maid Marian (Monica Evans) and Lady Cluck (Carole Shelley). Also the Sheriff, Nutsy, Trigger, and Friar Tuck are all voiced by actors known for doing Western films, a nod to the discarded version of the film set in the Old West. Sir Peter Ustinov provides the voice not only of the cowardly King John, but also his brother King Richard.
- Several of the songs were written by country singer Roger Miller – who also provided the voice of Alan-A-Dale (the rooster minstrel).
- The song “Love” received an Academy Award nomination for Best Song – but lost to “The Way We Were.” A TRAGEDY, I tell you.
- This fantastical re-imagining of medieval England with animals definitely doesn’t just stick to the animals of England – sure there are cats and dogs, rabbits, turtles, and birds, but there’s also elephants, rhinos, hippos, alligators, and lions. “England is basically Persia,” noted Steve.
- Robin, in a feat of core strength that would make a world record-holding yogi weep, swings Little John (a bear nearly three times his size) into a tree out of harm’s way. Minutes later, he casually scoffs that Little John is too heavy for the Sheriff of Nottingham and the posse to capture. Rob, we saw what you did. You can’t take that back now.
- Prince John is not only ridiculous, he’s full of symbolism about cowardice and incompetency. His crown and robes don’t fit, his stuff gets stolen all the time, his advisor is a snake, he sucks his thumb at the bare mention of his mother, and he’s drawn like a female lion instead of a male lion like his brother Richard is drawn. Welllllllp.
- (Otto the blacksmith dog is pinging a hammer on an anvil) Steve: “You know that’s supposed to be hot, right? ‘I’m so poor I can’t afford a fire.'” Aly: “I’m mostly just banging this hammer to get my emotions out since nobody comes to buy horseshoes anymore.”
- “Toby’ll tattle on us!” Steve: “Don’t be a nark, Toby.”
- The archery tournament is totally a Renaissance Faire. Balloons, pies for sale, a sporting event, pennants to wave…. and it ends with romance and a big fight!
- The anachronistic and hilarious presence of the UCLA and Wisconsin fight songs is apparently one of our collective favorite parts of the movie. Without knowing the words to the songs we sang along at top voice. HOWEVER – it’s a missed opportunity that there’s no bit with Friar Tuck during “On Wisconsin,” since Friar Tuck is a Badger.
- We know this is a secret hide out but SURPRISE let’s have a hoedown!
- Steve: “Ugh, great, the Lutherans are here.”
- The party scene goes ARISTOCATS, ARISTOCATS, JUNGLE BOOK, SNOW WHITE, ARISTOCATS, ARISTOCATS, ARISTOCATS, SNOW WHITE, SNOW WHITE, JUNGLE BOOK, UP, UP, DOWN, DOWN, LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT, RIGHT, B, A, START.
- Fun fact: When Drew was a kid, their pirated VHS copy of Robin Hood ended with the end of the hoedown in the woods. He didn’t even see the completed film until he was like twelve or thirteen – to this day, the latter half of the movie is disorienting and weird to him.
- I can’t believe “Love” lost the Best Song Oscar to “The Way We Were”…well, okay, fine, Barbara Streisand. But “Love” is actually a really lovely song and sequence.
- (as Robin Hood sneaks into the prison/treasury for the heist sequence) Drew: “I’ve played this level in Assassin’s Creed.”
- Prince John sleeps in the treasury???
- There’s apparently also an ongoing theme in Disney movies of an escape being made and something small falling off the back of the truck at the last second so someone needs to go rescue it. It happens here, in 101 Dalmatians, and in The Aristocats too.
- The crunchy bass riffs in the archery fight and the heist sequence are so so 70’s…and very Scooby Doo at the same time???
- Steve: “For a place made of stone, this building goes up [in flames] pretty damn quick.” Drew: “Was it just really dry, maybe?” Steve: “No, it was raining all day [for the last three scenes].”
- KING RICHARD! Voiced also by Sir Peter Ustinov. Which I didn’t know until just now.
- A HAPPY ENDING! Because of course. Robin Hood is too cool to not have a perfect wedding. Duh.
Up Next: The Many Adventures of Winnie-The-Pooh!
Want even more of the Disney Odyssey? Consider joining me over at the Patreon – as a patron, you’ll get the HILARIOUS audio discussion and commentary, fun behind the scenes updates about other projects I’m writing and creating, and best of all – you get to be a part of it!