Stream It!: Robin Hood (1973)

[Showcasing the best and highlighting the newest additions to the various streaming services, including but not limited to Netflix Instant, HuluPlus, and Amazon Prime.]

New on Netflix: Robin Hood

Growing up, I saw many of the classic Disney films – Pinocchio, Bambi, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Lady and the Tramp, etc. – but as a child my favorite one was without a doubt the 1973 version of Robin Hood, with a foxy Robin Hood and Maid Marian, a petulant shorn lion as Prince John, and various other characters given appropriate animal form. I didn’t know it at the time, but Disney was in recycle mode here, not even bothering to disguise the re-use of Baloo the Bear from The Jungle Book as Little John, or the King of the Animals from Bedknobs and Broomsticks as the ineffective Prince John. Sometimes there’s something to be said for ignorance, and my childhood glee at watching and rewatching this film is something that will never escape me. I’ve heard others who saw this film first as adults say that they didn’t like it much at all, but I’ll never be able to watch it without nostalgia glasses, I guess. Thankfully, Jonathan feels the same way about it, so at least I have one very important person on my side. If you do have kids who are into adventure but may not quite be ready for the 1938 Errol Flynn The Adventures of Robin Hood quite yet, give the Disney version a try. It’s a good stepping stone, and they won’t know that it falls into Disney’s “lazy” period.

Double Feature: The Sword in the Stone

If Robin Hood was my most-watched Disney film as a kid, 1963’s The Sword in the Stone was probably a close second. Do you see a trend of liking medieval English legends? Yeah, me too – my love of Arthurian lore probably started here, and hasn’t ended yet, though it’s taken a back seat to other concerns for the past several years. Taking its story more from T.H. White’s The Once and Future King than from Le Morte D’Arthur or other, older sources, The Sword in the Stone follows a young boy nicknamed Wart who’s in training to be a squire who just might have a grand future – if Merlin the Magician can teach him a thing or two first. There’s a LOT of silliness in this one, which is probably why I gravitated towards it as a child. I actually haven’t rewatched it for years; I’m a little afraid to. While Robin Hood has a lot of heart that helps carry it through, I remember the The Sword in the Stone being just silly fun, which may not bode well for it lasting over the years, especially as it’s also considered rather a lesser work. It’s actually the last animated feature Disney released before Walt Disney’s death, and it does kind of usher in what’s considered the low period of Disney animation (the ’60s-80s). Still, I’ll have to take the plunge before long, because I will want to show it to my daughter when she’s a little older. It’s great to see Disney putting so many of their animated classics (albeit mostly “lesser” ones so far) on Netflix; I definitely hope this trend continues.


The Story of Film on TCM: Chapter 12


Blind Spots Listmaking 2014


  1. I love me some Robin Hood. Roger Miller was the perfect choice to narrate it. What a clever, brilliant mind he had! Willie Nelson said that Miller would just randomly start making up songs but forget to write down any of the lyrics. Only a fraction of the witticisms he coined were ever recorded in any fashion, and of course, the ones that were were pretty much all in a class all their own.

    My only problem with Robin Hood isn’t the obvious recycling; it’s the finale. It feels entirely tacked-on and incongruous with the rest of the story. That shot of the hippos all stacked atop one another, stumbling and falling down, makes me believe that whoever was assigned that section of the film either had no idea what they were supposed to be doing, or dropped the ball and this was swiped from something else as a fill-in because they ran out of time/money to do something that actually made sense.

    Other than that, though, I adore the movie and I’m thrilled to see you sing its praises.

    • I’d have to rewatch it, but I feel like that shot of the hippos might be swiped, in concept at least, from Bedknobs and Broomsticks. Whatever, I still have such love for Robin Hood. I agree with you about the narration and music. It’s perfect. It’s the one Disney Blu-ray that Jon and I instantly agreed we had to buy on release day. :)

      • I still haven’t seen (or at least, don’t remember seeing) Bedknobs and Broomsticks. That bit comes right in the final few minutes, though, so the effect doesn’t taint my overall enjoyment of it too much.

        Personally, I never minded that Baloo is Little John, but then, I also grew up with the Muppets. One fictitious character playing another didn’t occur to me as some kind of storytelling faux pas. I love the character designs, and I think it’s actually a testament to old school Disney that some of what the earlier animators designed could be so easily “re-purposed” for Robin Hood. It looks like a cohesive animated universe, and that’s really all that matters.

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