Matt’s Walt Disney Pictures Live-Action Reviews: The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men

The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men (1952)

Released on: June 26, 1952

Budget: N/A

Box Office: $2.1 Million

Starring: Richard Todd, Joan Rice, Peter Finch, & James Hayter

Director: Ken Annakin

Plot: When King Richard is sent to fight in the Crusades, Prince John is left in charge of Nottingham.  Prince John along with his ally the Sheriff of Nottingham take advantage of this opportunity to make themselves richer.  When the father of Robin Hood is assassinated, Robin Hood makes a vow to avenge his father, by stealing from the rich and giving to the poor.  Along with his Merrie Men, Robin Hood makes the lives of Prince John & the Sherriff of Nottingham’s miserable, while capturing the heart of Maid Marian.  

Final Thoughts: In Walt Disney’s second live action movie we take a look at another classic tale, this time of the legendary Robin Hood.  This movie similar to my last review of Treasure Island does not take a lot of creative liberties.  They stick to the original story and go from there.   Also like Treasure Island this movie is shot entirely in England with the same money that they couldn’t transfer out of England after the war.  

To me Errol Flynn is the bar that every Robin Hood will be measured on and Richard Todd did an ok job, but still comes in well below the bar that Flynn set years earlier.  Todd whose acting career peaked in the 1950’s in England and after that his star fell dramatically, didn’t act like he was the main star of the film.  There were a couple times, where even though the camera was directly on him I forgot he was Robin Hood.  Which to me is a big problem, because the star of the film should always stand out from the others.  Peter Finch, who would later on in his career win an Academy Award for his role in the movie Network (which on a complete side note, if you haven’t seen it track it down because it is an excellent movie), plays the evil Sherriff of Nottingham and does a far better job than the hero of the movie.  

One of the fun aspects of this movie that does set it apart from many other Robin Hood movies is that parts of it were actually filmed in the real Sherwood Forest.    

Overall this was a fun movie to watch, but not one I am going to remember.  Walt Disney would go on to make a more memorable Robin Hood movie a few years later which you can read Steve Riddle’s great review of right here on Place to be Nation.  This Robin Hood just seems to fall flat to me. The two advantages that this movie had over Errol Flynn’s was that it was shot in Technicolor, making the scenery just that much better.  As stated before Richard Todd does an ok job, but it’s nothing write home about, and in my opinion is out shined by Peter Finch.  

Final Grade: 2 out of 5

Next Review: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954)

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