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Robin Hood (1973) Blu-ray Review

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#1 of 16 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted July 29 2013 - 02:04 PM

Robin Hood (1973) Blu-ray Review

The nadir of the studio’s animation output after the death of Walt Disney was 1973’s Robin Hood. While okay entertainment for small children, the film lacks the inspiration found in the best of the studio’s features, offers a forgettable song score, mixes British and American voice cast members incongruously, takes short cuts and makes silly mistakes with the animation, and in general is an utterly forgettable viewing experience. It did acceptably at the box-office as Disney's 1973 Christmas release (among the top twenty highest grossing movies of the year), but like some of the studio’s other uninspired efforts, it hasn’t left much of lasting cinematically historical value.


Cover Art


Studio: Disney

Distributed By: N/A

Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC

Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1

Audio: English 2.0 DD, English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DTS, Other

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French, Portuguese

Rating: G

Run Time: 1 Hr. 23 Min.

Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy

Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)

Region: ABC

Release Date: 08/06/2013

MSRP: $36.99




The Production Rating: 2.5/5

With his brother away fighting in the Crusades, Prince John (Peter Ustinov) takes over ruling England with a iron fist imposing crippling taxes on the people and tossing them into jail with they don’t or can’t pay. To their rescue comes Robin Hood (Brian Bedford) who with his companion Little John (Phil Harris) steals back money from the acting king and returns it to the people. When John holds an archery tournament which offers a golden arrow as the top prize, Robin disguises himself so he can enter for two reasons: to get the golden arrow and to receive a kiss from his childhood sweetheart Maid Marian (Monica Evans). The crafty Sheriff of Nottingham (Pat Buttram) is almost successful in capturing the bandit of Sherwood Forest, but Robin escapes his clutches. In order to lure Robin back to the castle, the Sheriff arrests Friar Tuck (Andy Devine) knowing that Robin will attempt to save his friend.

The film’s innovations begin and end with the tale being told through animals assuming the roles of the famous participants in the Robin Hood legend. But why have the filmmakers cast this most English tale with a mixture of British and American actors (and with the American actors almost all possessing twangy southern accents)? True, in the decades to come, Kevin Costner and other American cohorts would assume the roles in the Robin Hood legend (to some derision), but this precedent doesn’t really seem to make much sense story-wise. Roger Miller who plays the balladeer rooster Allen-a-dale gets things started in his best American folksy manner singing “Oo-de-lally,” and then we immediately go to the king and his aide Sir Hiss played by the most English Peter Ustinov and Terry-Thomas causing an almost instant disconnect. But the sheriff is crackle-voiced Pat Buttram and his deputies are Ken Curtis (from Gunsmoke fame) and George Lindsey (The Andy Griffith Show), all southern-speaking animals, and Friar Tuck is Andy Devine. Phil Harris as Little John may not be southern, but he uses the same hipster Harris character voice that he utilized in The Jungle Book and The Aristocats. So for some, the voices are going to make an uneasy mixture of picture and sound to story.

The animation contains continuity errors that aren’t worthy of the Disney name. Some business with John’s rings (Robin and Little John steal one of the rings and the jewels from other rings) early on are a mass of problems with the rings appearing and disappearing from shot to shot that are unthinkable in the animation from previous decades. Eagle-eyed Disney fanatics will notice that the animators have taken some short cuts, too, by using the pencil animation for Snow White dancing and applying it directly to Maid Marian as she prances with her friends in “The Phony King of England” dance number. Little John’s dance moves look directly lifted from Baloo’s movements in The Jungle Book (both coincidentally voiced by Phil Harris). With the uninspired storytelling and the animation problems plus a dawdling pace from director Wolfgang Reitherman and a most juvenile tone to the entire enterprise, the movie is mostly a dud.

That isn’t to say that there isn’t any merit here. Brian Bedford does a wonderful acting job as Robin, and Peter Ustinov matches him in authority as John. Monica Evans doesn’t do anything special with Maid Marian, but the movie’s romantic ballad “Love” (Oscar-nominated) which accompanies the film’s most lyrically animated segment as Robin and Marian have a montage of tender moments is the film’s high water mark. Carole Shelley as Marian’s lady-in-waiting Lady Kluck has some amusingly raucous moments, and Terry-Thomas likewise slithers amusingly as the venal viper Sir Hiss.



Video Rating: 4.5/5  3D Rating: NA

The film is presented in the 1.66:1 aspect ratio and is offered in 1080p resolution using the AVC codec. One’s heart may sink a little bit during the film’s opening actor credits which are soft and impossibly indistinct for a top of the line Blu-ray transfer, but afterward things sharpen up beautifully, and the film sustains its quality throughout. Color is bright and well handled with no blooming, and there is also no banding to distract the eye, nor is there any aliasing in the solid line presentations which are offered. The film has been divided into 15 chapters.



Audio Rating: 4/5

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix is mostly frontcentric. There are some echoes from the music that spill into the rear channels, but the dialogue which has been well recorded is rooted to the center channel, and the music and sound effects get spread across the front soundstage nicely but with not tremendous depth. Bass is a bit light in the mix as well.



Special Features Rating: 3/5

“Love Letters” (7:33, HD): a deleted storyline offering another plan for John to trap Robin. It’s done in the manner of partially animated pencil-drawn storyboards.

Alternate Ending (4:34, SD): an injured Robin is nursed back to health by Maid Marian.

Disney Song Selection (7:43, HD): four songs from the film are pulled out and can be watched independently from the movie: “Oo-de-lally,” “Love,” “The Phony King of England,” and “Not in Nottingham.”

“Oo-de-lally” Sing Along Song (2:08, SD): the song is pulled from the beginning of the film and fitted with sing along subtitled lyrics.

Robin Hood Art Gallery (8:50, SD): artwork on various characters and story points, behind-the-scenes views of artists at work, and selected movie posters are put together in this montage.

Robin Hood Storybook (14:21, SD): the movie in storybook form is presented with large type which children can read along with.

Sing Along With the Movie (HD): turns on subtitles only during musical numbers.

“Ye Olden Days” (8:18, HD): 1933 Mickey Mouse cartoon

Promo Trailers (HD): Super Buddies, The Little Mermaid, Planes, The Muppet Movie



Overall Rating: 3/5

Disney’s 1973 Robin Hood is a perfectly acceptable entertainment for children who will likely not mind the incompatible mix of accents nor the problems with some of the animation. But Disney did a far better version of the Robin Hood legend a couple of decades earlier, and that live action film is the one I’d rather have seen come to Blu-ray.


Reviewed By: Matt Hough


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#2 of 16 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

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Posted July 29 2013 - 03:16 PM

I feel somewhat obligated to buy this, as when I was a kid I really wanted to record this on VHS off a broadcast, and was doing fine until my mom decided to start vacuuming, causing all kinds of static in the picture.

 

If I'd only known then about Blu-ray, I wouldn't have gotten so upset. :lol:


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#3 of 16 OFFLINE   JoeDoakes

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Posted July 29 2013 - 04:15 PM

I haven't seen this since it was released in 1973.  My father used to show me super 8 film of the Adventures of Robin Hood, and I thought it was a fairly good animal approximation.  Given how many more recent animated films have had totally lousy music, I don't see the point in complaining about it here.  Really, did Michael Barrier write this review under a pseudonym?



#4 of 16 OFFLINE   Jason_V

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Posted July 29 2013 - 05:29 PM

I feel somewhat obligated to buy this...

 

Yup, me too.  Why have a full collection of Disney movies and leave one out?

 

That being said...yeah, this batch is totally unexciting, at least for me.  I never really connected with this version of Robin Hood.  The music isn't particularly memorable, the story is just boring...but it has good memories for me (the experience watching it, not the actual movie).



#5 of 16 OFFLINE   Mark-P

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Posted July 29 2013 - 05:50 PM

Looking forward to this release. However, it does feel like someone over at Disney is just flipping a coin to decide whether to go with 1.66:1 or 1.78:1 for the aspect ratio of each of their animated features.


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#6 of 16 OFFLINE   MatthewA

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Posted July 29 2013 - 05:55 PM

I haven't seen this since it was released in 1973.  My father used to show me super 8 film of the Adventures of Robin Hood, and I thought it was a fairly good animal approximation.  Given how many more recent animated films have had totally lousy music, I don't see the point in complaining about it here.  Really, did Michael Barrier write this review under a pseudonym?

 

Michael Barrier would not have been nearly as charitable as Matt was. He didn't even like Pinocchio.


Enough is enough, Disney. No more evasions or excuses. We DEMAND the release Song of the South on Blu-ray along with the uncut version of Bedknobs and Broomsticks on Blu-ray. I am going to boycott The Walt Disney Company until then.


#7 of 16 ONLINE   Mark Walker

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Posted July 29 2013 - 09:56 PM

Thanks for the review, Matt!


Paramount, please release DRAGONSLAYER on Blu-ray

Dragonslayer_1981HTF_zps4e370848.jpg

 

 

Vermithrax Pejorative deserves to be seen in high-def.


#8 of 16 OFFLINE   Adam_S

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Posted July 30 2013 - 11:23 AM

The nadir?  That title probably belongs to the atrocious Aristocats, at least Robin Hood has redeeming qualities.


 

#9 of 16 OFFLINE   Radioman970

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Posted July 30 2013 - 11:35 AM

I didn't mind the voices so much...  didn't notice the errors (I get brain dead with these sometimes)... 

 

I'd score this the same.  A disappointing Disney that's watchable at least. 

 

I have no need to replace my DVD. 


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#10 of 16 ONLINE   Mark Walker

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Posted July 30 2013 - 12:27 PM

The first DVD was Academy ratio and the later 2 disc version was widescreen and we defintely lost vertical information at the top.  (I remember seeing chopped foreheads in the opening when Little John and Robin are about to take the carriage.)

 

I'll take 1.66:1 over 1.78: 1 for this one.

 

Looking forward to this release. However, it does feel like someone over at Disney is just flipping a coin to decide whether to go with 1.66:1 or 1.78:1 for the aspect ratio of each of their animated features.


Paramount, please release DRAGONSLAYER on Blu-ray

Dragonslayer_1981HTF_zps4e370848.jpg

 

 

Vermithrax Pejorative deserves to be seen in high-def.


#11 of 16 OFFLINE   Stephen_J_H

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Posted July 31 2013 - 08:18 AM

The nadir?  That title probably belongs to the atrocious Aristocats, at least Robin Hood has redeeming qualities.

No, the nadir belongs to The Fox and the Hound, which breaks the rule that story comes first. A barely sketched plotline can work for some films, but not The Fox and the Hound.

 

Re: aspect ratio, this is probably supposed to be 1.75:1, and the chopped foreheads problem described above could probably have been remedied by proper framing.


Edited by Stephen_J_H, July 31 2013 - 08:19 AM.

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#12 of 16 OFFLINE   MatthewA

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Posted July 31 2013 - 08:52 AM

The nadir?  That title probably belongs to the atrocious Aristocats, at least Robin Hood has redeeming qualities.

 

At least The Aristocats bothered to change Phil Harris' species. :D

 

When I was a kid in the 1980s, I had Robin Hood on VHS and had no idea how much of it was cribbed from earlier films, so I never had a problem with it until I started reading all the books about Disney history. Of course, we didn't have instant access to all of them like we do now. Yet why did they cut so many corners on this one, even compared to other 70s films? I know Woolie Reitherman convinced them not to close down animation after Walt died (their jobs were hinging on the commercial performance of The Jungle Book) by agreeing to keep the budgets relatively low, but still. That said, some of the gags are amusing, the songs aren't bad, and the voice work is great.

 

 

No, the nadir belongs to The Fox and the Hound, which breaks the rule that story comes first. A barely sketched plotline can work for some films, but not The Fox and the Hound.

 

Re: aspect ratio, this is probably supposed to be 1.75:1, and the chopped foreheads problem described above could probably have been remedied by proper framing.

 

The biggest problem I had with Fox and the Hound, other than the dull song score, was the fact that the Chief's survival (he died in the original book) undermines the reason for Tod and Copper hating each other at the end. According to this blog by someone who worked at the studio in the Walker/Tatum/Miller era, it was Art Stevens' idea.

 

I also wonder whether the people making the transfers are paying attention to composition when creating the 1.75:1 ratio.


Enough is enough, Disney. No more evasions or excuses. We DEMAND the release Song of the South on Blu-ray along with the uncut version of Bedknobs and Broomsticks on Blu-ray. I am going to boycott The Walt Disney Company until then.


#13 of 16 OFFLINE   Virgoan

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Posted July 31 2013 - 11:28 AM

I am much amused by the quibbling over Matt Hough's opinions on the animated Disney Robin Hood.

 

No one seems to "love it" much, but are not so sure they dislike it "as much as" Matt did.

 

I'm in Matt's corner on this one.  But I'm certain I'd find some of the other titles bandied about as being worse actually being on a par with this one.



#14 of 16 OFFLINE   Mark-P

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Posted July 31 2013 - 12:59 PM

*
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The biggest problem I had with Fox and the Hound, other than the dull song score, was the fact that the Chief's survival (he died in the original book) undermines the reason for Tod and Copper hating each other at the end. According to this blog by someone who worked at the studio in the Walker/Tatum/Miller era, it was Art Stevens' idea.

Spoiler Alert!  :lol: Just kidding, because of the ruckus in the Mary Poppins thread!


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#15 of 16 ONLINE   Mark Walker

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Posted August 09 2013 - 06:51 AM

I watched this film last night, and the 1.66:1 framing is an improvement over the 1.78:1.

 

In the opening, there is a scene where Little John is about to jump in the water and the top of his hat was clipped off at 1.78:1.

Now at 1.66:1 for this new Blu-ray, that little bit of extra space at the top of the frame makes all the difference for it not feeling clipped.

 

What I watched of Robin Hood last night leads me to believe my assessment matches exactly with Matt's assessment of this Blu-ray in terms of picture quality.


Edited by Mark Walker, August 10 2013 - 03:55 AM.

Paramount, please release DRAGONSLAYER on Blu-ray

Dragonslayer_1981HTF_zps4e370848.jpg

 

 

Vermithrax Pejorative deserves to be seen in high-def.


#16 of 16 OFFLINE   JoeDoakes

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Posted August 09 2013 - 07:46 AM

I watched this film last night, and the 1.66:1 framing is an improvement over the 1.78:1.

 

In the opening, there is a scene where Little John is about to jump in the water and the top of his hat was clipped off at 1.78.

Now at 1.66:1 for this new Blu-ray, that little bit of extra space at the top of the frame makes all the difference for it not feeling clipped.

 

What I watched last night matches exactly with Matt's assessment of this film on Blu-ray in terms of picture quality.

 

Good to hear.  Thanks!







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