Sunday, October 28, 2012

More Robin Hood

Those two excited gentlemen in the photo are Phil Harris who voiced Little John in the movie and Andy Devine who did Friar Tuck.
Only Robin Hood seems less interested in the storyboards, he is still hoping for story fixes.

Milt Kahl revisited all the design work that had been done on the title character, and he started animating production scenes such as the one below, in which Robin is putting on his gipsy outfit.
John Lounsbery, too, was busy with key personality scenes, and Milt kept a close eye to make sure the character would be consistant.

In June of 1971 Milt proposed these updated designs . I quite like this long nosed Robin with a stretched torso and short legs. The neck became a lot fuller, and the anatomy of a real fox is more pronounced.

There was another Robin revision in September of 1971.
Here the character might look more like a "leading man" type, but he also comes close to resembling a man in a fox suit. The fact that the exact date is written up on the model sheet shows some frustration over the ongoing design changes.

Milt finally settled on a shorter nosed Robin, with an appearance that resembles handsome heroes like Errol Flynn, Richard Todd or Kevin Costner.

Check out the appeal in this previously posted pencil test:


  1. Oo de lally ! what a great designs.

  2. "Robin Hood" remains one of my favourite Disney features, though I fully acknowledge its shortcomings in regard to pedestrian story and uninspired layouts. But the character animation is still at such a high level by all the veteran animators, with notable vocal performances by Peter Ustinov, Terry-Thomas, Pat Buttram, and my favourite, Phil Harris. (I love that publicity still of Harris and Andy Devine, by the way!)

    Unfortunately, Robin himself always seemed to be the least interesting character to me, although I do like the exquisite animation by Milt. Interestingly, I have met Brian Bedford, the voice of Robin, on several occasions, as he's become a fixture at the Stratford Festival up here in Ontario, Canada. Even Bedford admitted that he wasn't completely comfortable with voicing the character, as he was primarily a stage actor used to performing Shakespeare. In the years since, I have heard about the initial casting of singer/actor Tommy Steele to play Robin, and I must confess I still like that whole concept better, along with the earlier, crazier visual designs you've been posting here that would have reflected his more sprightly, cheeky persona. Actually, I believe that there is still one small remnant of Tommy Steele's vocal track that made it into the final film. After they've robbed Prince John in the gypsy sequence, and PJ emerges from his coach in his underwear, I believe that final "Ooh-de-lally!" and cackle of laughter is Steele and not Bedford. Just my theory, mind you, but it would be interesting to find out for sure.

    Thanks so much for all the great stuff you keep posting on "Robin Hood", Andreas. Though not a critically acclaimed film, it does have many loyal fans (including me!)

    1. I'm with you, Pete, when it comes to Robin Hood.
      No, not a great story, but so much outstanding character animation. Anybody who is a serious animation student can't ignore this film.
      By the way, Ollie Johnston thought that T. Steele was just fine for Robin Hood, and he could have worked with his voice.

  3. Love the wayward sleeves in the fifth image. :D

  4. I have a quick question about the running and dressing scene right before the robbery of the coach.There is a musical section that matches the tempo of the run as they are hopping into the clothes. would the animators have animated to a score for that, or was the music added later to match the action?

  5. Andreas: I agree that they could have settled at the second design, if only because it's closer to achieving the friendly Song of the South vibe that they started the project with. I also wonder how that could have influenced the design of the rest of the cast. Prince John, the Sheriff, and Lady Cluck were all perfect clowns, to be sure. But could Little John have been pushed more in the direction of a smarter, kinder Brer Bear, as in Ken Anderson's original sketch? And could that level of broadness have encouraged faster-paced, funnier storytelling, if not a more dynamic story?

    That's not to dwell on it -- I'm a fan of the final film regardless, not least of all because of the stellar performance-based animation. Besides, some of your generation's films, Basil and Aladdin in particular, recapture much of the 1940s joy and energy, so my hat is off to you for that.

  6. Andreas, somewhere in my stash I have a xerox of Lousberry's version of Robin's "faint heart never won fair lady" scene, from an earlier pass. At some point tho Milt re-did the whole thing in his inimitable style. I will let you know if i can scare it up again...

    I recall Eric Larson expressing disappointed feelings about the voice casting of the Robin character when I asked him about that film. He had high praise for the rest of the cast, tho, (they were top notch, weren't they?)

  7. I agree 100% with Pete Emslie "Thanks so much for all the great stuff you keep posting on "Robin Hood", Andreas. Though not a critically acclaimed film, it does have many loyal fans (including me!)"

  8. Robin Hood was one of my favorite animated features made at Disney. I love the animation and the vocal performances for the movie! Especially Brian Bedford who played Robin!