In late 1973, Walt Disney created its 21st animated features based on a well-known story: Robin Hood.
Initially the storyline was supposed to be based on Reynard the Fox, but Disney was worried audiences wouldn’t like the trickster and decided to make a foxes the leads in Robin Hood.
All the characters of Nottingham are present, but instead of people are all animals. Robin and Maid Marian are foxes, Alan-a-Dale (the narrator voiced by singer Roger Miller) is a rooster, while Little John is a bear, Friar Tuck is a badger and Prince John and his brother King Richard are lions, voiced by actor Peter Ustinov.
The storyline is the same, with Robin and his band of Merry Men robbing Prince John to help the overtaxed poor of Nottingham and trying to stay one step ahead of the Sherriff, a wolf. Other members of the cast are rabbits, dog, turtle, crocodile, vultures, chicken, wolf and snake.
Released in November 1973, the feature was well-received by critics as a rare family film that could be enjoyed by all ages. Made for a $15 million, the film was a success with viewers, bringing in over $32 million in domestic box office.
As a child who saw this film on tv a few years later, I was thrilled with the storyline and the animated animals. I enjoyed the foxes and lions and distrusted the vultures and snakes, accepting the stereotype of each animal as well as the madcap adventures of the characters hiding and escaping into Sherwood Forest.
Eventually released on VHS in 1984, the film made studio another $30 million in rentals on Robin Hood and is a classic animation feature of Disney, similar in style to The Jungle Book and The Aristocats and still loved by young audiences.