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

Synopsis: After his father is slain in an ambush in retaliation for standing up to the new Sheriff of Nottingham, a young man takes refuge in Sherwood Forest and becomes the outlaw Robin Hood. Recruiting other persecuted men, he forms a small army and uses it to stand up to the sheriff and Prince John while waiting for the return of King Richard.

Who's in it? The movie stars Richard Todd, Joan Rice, Peter Finch, Hurbert Gregg and Martita Hunt.

Review: My wife is self quarantining after being exposed to COVID at work and, as a result of that, I wound up keeping myself occupied by watching this movie on Disney Plus. I've seen multiple movie versions of the Robin Hood legend and, unfortunately, this wasn't one of my favorites.

There were a couple things about this movie I found I wasn't a huge fan of, especially when compared to other similar films, like the Adventures of Robin Hood. One of the main ones is I feel like the movie spent way too much time focusing on the origin story. It seemed like most of the film was dedicated to introducing us to Robin (Todd) followed by other main characters like Little John (James Robertson Justice) and Friar Tuck (James Hayter). This, in itself wouldn't have been a big deal but the movie never gives the secondary characters enough to do to justify the lengthy intros.

I also feel like this movie wasted what I thought was a halfway decent Sheriff of Nottingham (Finch). He was a character that was supposed to be cunning and ruthless but the movie never let him get to that point. When he wasn't being easily embarrassed by Robin Hood, he was playing second fiddle to Prince John (Gregg). Also, unlike other movies, this Sheriff of Nottingham didn't even get a final fight scene with Robin Hood. Instead, he dies (at least I think he died) in a somewhat undignified manner.

The more I think about it, I think the film missed a big opportunity with this version of the sheriff. There were times when I felt like his character was supposed to be more of  a reluctant accomplice (though it was hard to tell if that was really supposed to be the case). It would have been nice to see the movie take a different path and have him eventually stand up to Prince John rather than just follow orders blindly.

One thing I did like about this movie was Richard/John's mother, Queen Eleanor (Hunt). This is the only movie I've seen with that particular character and I have to admit she was a nice addition. She had a good mix of being strong and intimidating when needed but also clearly had a kind heart and cared about her subjects. In fact, I think the movie might have been better had she been the main character rather than Robin Hood.

Final Opinion: It's not a terrible movie and there were things about it, including Queen Eleanor, I did like. However, when compared to other Robin Hood films, this movie does lack something and it definitely wasn't one of my favorites.

My Grade: C


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