Friday, April 29, 2011

Thirty Days of Disney Movies, Day Five - Favorite Action Film

Robin (Richard Todd) takes aim.
It would have been easy to choose a Pirates movie as best action film in my 30-day Disney movie project. For that matter, The Rocketeer wouldn't have been a bad choice either. But, I was feeling nostalgic, so I reached back a bit further to a time when "action film" still meant high adventure without any explosions or Bruce Willis.

I chose 1952's The Story of Robin Hood.

To help rebuild its economy after World War II, England froze the assets of foreign companies that did business there (Disney among them) to obligate them to spend their money within the nation. Unhindered by the inconvenience, Walt Disney seized the opportunity to produce a number of well-crafted, live-action films in England. The Story of Robin Hood, with its spirited action sequences and sumptuous outdoor locales, is among the best of that bunch. It's certainly miles ahead of the cartoon remake Disney churned out in 1973.

It's the familiar legend of the charming rogue Robin Hood (Richard Todd), who, with his band of merry men, steals from the rich, gives to the poor, and torments the corrupt Prince John (Hubert Gregg) and his henchman, the evil Sheriff of Nottingham (Peter Finch). Robin and his men are loyal to King Richard (Patrick Barr), who is off fighting the Crusades and is unaware of the excesses of his brother John, who is unfairly taxing his subjects to line his own pockets.

Robin Hood has the requisite amount of archery, swordplay and derring-do, and director Ken Annakin keeps the action lively and fun. Todd is less flamboyant as Robin than Errol Flynn was in the better known Hollywood classic The Adventures of Robin Hood, but he's also more rugged, presenting himself as a better suited outdoorsman. As Robin's love interest, Maid Marian (Joan Rice) is both sweet and feisty and there is great chemistry between the two.

For movie adventure, The Story of Robin Hood is an overlooked gem from the Disney Studios.

Coming up next, Walt Disney never did horror movies, or did he?

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