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Fun Friday–A Robin Hood Favorites List

Friday, May 21, 2010


Since I went to see the new Ridley Scott/Russell Crowe version of Robin Hood last night, I had to make some kind of Fun Friday list out of it.

Now, understand, that I have something of a fondness for the legendary thief-with-a-heart-of-gold . . . I included an overview of the legend of Robin Hood in my thesis that I had to write/present in my History of the English Language class as an undergrad in discussing the impact of the Norman invasion of England on the English language. So I know a little about the actual history behind the legend. And let’s just say . . . it’s really more legend than it is history, no matter what Ridley Scott would want you to believe.

Now, you’re probably expecting a list of my favorite Robin Hoods (or is that Robins Hood?). However, those of you who’ve been hanging around here for a while know that I have an obsession with secondary characters. And that extends to the world of Robin Hood as well. My favorite character in the Robin Hood legend is Little John. And much of that comes from the actors who’ve been put in the role of Little John over the years. So here’s my list of my five favorite portrayals of Robin Hood’s right-hand man, Little John.

5. Dean Martin, Robin and the Seven Hoods
Okay, maybe this one is a stretch, but the character he played was named Little John. And, yes, it gives me an excuse to post a video of my favorite singer singing. And it’s a unique take on the meeting between Robin and Little John with the staff fight.

4. Alan Hale, The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
A.k.a. “The Errol Flynn version of Robin Hood.” If for no other reason than they gave us the legendary meeting between Little John and Robin Hood, Alan Hale’s portrayal of Little John stands out as the staff-fighting, self-confident man who convinced Robin to make him part of the Merry Men by beating him in a man-to-man fight.

3. Phil Harris (voice), Disney’s Robin Hood (1973)
Phil Harris did quite a few voiceovers for Disney, but most people recognize his voice from two roles: as Baloo the Bear in The Jungle Book and as Little John in Robin Hood (also a bear, and a bear that looked very similar to Baloo). To me, this version of Little John is the funniest. And, even though I know now there would be compatibility issues, I always wanted to see Little John and Lady Cluck end up together.

2. Gordon Kennedy, Robin Hood for BBC TV (2006–2009)
There were three saving graces of this most recent, short-lived TV series: Richard Armitage as Sir Guy, Keith Allen as the Sheriff, and Gordon Kennedy as Little John. Maybe I’m showing my age, but none of the young actors did much for me, so in this version of the legend, it was definitely Little John who was my favorite amongst our hero characters. Kennedy didn’t have much to work with, but what he was given by way of dialogue and screen time, he made the most of. Of course, the Scottish accent doesn’t hurt, either.

1. Kevin Durand, Robin Hood 2010
I’ve liked Kevin Durand for a very long time—ever since seeing him as the bumbling, somewhat slow “Tree” Lane in another Russell Crowe movie, Mystery, Alaska. More recently, he took a turn as the sinister mercenary Martin Keamy in the fourth season of LOST. At 6′6″, he’s the perfect physical type for Little John . . . and for the character I’ve cast him as in Ransome’s Quest. (Which one? You’ll have to wait until next year!) I love the fact that they found an actress to play Little John’s, um, romantic interest in this film (“Little John’s Wench”) who’s also quite tall (Andrea Ware is 6′2″). And he did a decent job with his accent in the few lines he had in this movie. But really, he’s my number one Little John because he’s a hottie. (If you don’t go see this movie while it’s in the theater, be sure to rent it when it comes out!)

  1. Friday, May 21, 2010 6:30 am

    I’m up in the air about seeing the new movie. I adore Russell Crowe, one of the greatest actors of our time, and am sure he does justice to my favorite outlaw in his own over the top uber-alpha male sort of way . But I’ve loved the legends since I was a kid and hooked on the Disney version. And of course, I am seriously obsessed with the BBC series. For me, Jonas Armstrong will always be the quintessential Robin — daring, charming, heroic (even if it isn’t always his first inclination) with that sparkle in the eyes that gets me every time . (I warned you I was obsessed, LOL)

    Actually, oddly enough the WIP I’m toying with now works with the Robin Hood legends. I blame mourning for my favorite hero and bingeing on too many Outlander novels, but there’s scenes in my head I can’t ignore. So between the Robin on my tv and the Robin in my head (not necessarily the same at all) I’m not sure I can handle another interpretation.

    What did you think of the story? Is there much depth to the characters? Worthy of carrying on the Robin Hood banner?


    • Friday, May 21, 2010 2:46 pm

      Laure, I feel the same way whenever I hear of a new Jane Austen adaptation or rip-off. There are some that I avoid altogether because I know they’ll just make me mad.

      This movie took a different approach to the story—it’s more like they were trying to give us Robin’s backstory instead of showing him already the outlaw, robbing the rich and feeding the poor. Frankly, if you’d given the characters different names, it still would have been a great historical action film.

      In typical Ridley Scott fashion, there were several battle scenes (though not much blood/gore) which were very chaotic and hard to keep track of the main characters in.

      The only character that could have been better utilized/more developed was the Sheriff of Notthingham. Matthew Macfadyen was sorely under-used.


      • Friday, May 21, 2010 5:46 pm

        Laure, I feel the same way whenever I hear of a new Jane Austen adaptation or rip-off. There are some that I avoid altogether because I know they’ll just make me mad.

        Does the new trend of adding zombies and vampires to the classics drive you as nuts as it does me? Pride & Prejuidice & Zombies? Robin Hood & Friar Tuck Zombie Killers? Ack! *pulls out hair*


  2. Jennifer Elerick permalink
    Friday, May 21, 2010 7:38 am

    I will have to watch it when it comes on DVD. I am alittle behind on TV and movies. My only 2 shows I have to watch right now are American Idol and Dancing with the Stars. Although I did watch Biggest Loser this week and really liked it. I have yet to watch Dancing this week but, I am aware of who got kicked off. Always too much going on, plus I just really enjoy reading when I have the time, so that often takes place of watching movies. I have yet to see Avatar and many others.


    • Friday, May 21, 2010 2:47 pm

      I still have several season finales from the last two weeks sitting on my DVR unwatched because I’ve been so busy since getting home from Arkansas. And I probably won’t get caught up this week—I have an editing project due Monday that I haven’t even started yet. And let’s not get into how far behind I am on getting Ransome’s Quest written!

      Avatar is one I’ll be skipping. Nothing about it holds any interest for me.


      • Jennifer Elerick permalink
        Friday, May 21, 2010 2:57 pm

        I will be watching Avatar tomorrow since it is coming from Netflix so I will let you know what I think then.


        • Jennifer Elerick permalink
          Monday, May 24, 2010 5:02 pm

          Watched Avatar and thought it was good. It was very interesting and the animation was great. There are alot of battle scenes in it which might turn you off, but overall it was worth watching for me.


  3. Friday, May 21, 2010 8:19 am

    My family wanted to see the new Robin Hood movie the moment we saw the trailer, and I hope we can see it soon! There was a British version of Robin Hood that I saw on reruns – I think from the ’50’s or ’60’s. But the Disney version will always hold a tender spot in my heart!

    As good as Star Trek, eh? That would have to be pretty darn good!


    • Friday, May 21, 2010 2:49 pm

      I didn’t say it was “as good as” Star Trek—just the best movie I’ve seen since Star Trek. Of course, Action-Adventure is my favorite genre of movies . . . and it’s not like I’ve actually watched a bunch of movies since seeing ST (several times) last summer. I didn’t even get around to seeing The Blind Side until a couple of weeks AFTER the Academy Awards!


      • Friday, May 21, 2010 3:40 pm

        Hey, I just saw that one about two weeks ago! Wonderful movie, though. And Star Trek was so good we watched it again on Christmas day. But Avatar? Didn’t like it. I thought the plot left MUCH to be desired and was sacrificed to the gods of special effects. Right up there with G.I. Joe, and you know I love a good Dennis Quaid flick. 😉


  4. Friday, May 21, 2010 8:55 am

    Glad you enjoyed Robin Hood. 🙂


    • Friday, May 21, 2010 2:50 pm

      I was going to try to wait until we could go together, but I found myself with an open evening (okay, not really—but didn’t want to work or write or keep watching everything recorded on my DVR) and decided at the last minute to go ahead and go.


      • Friday, May 21, 2010 3:03 pm

        I completely understand how one just has to go for it sometimes…now that I am facing packing up all my stuff it’s amazing how scattered I’ve gotten. “Movie? Oh let’s go!” LOL!!


  5. Friday, May 21, 2010 9:03 am

    First thing I thought of when I saw the title of your post was RICHARD ARMITAGE from BBC’s Robin Hood LOL! I’ve never seen any of the other Robin Hood’s you mentioned but I’m really excited to see the new film.


    • Friday, May 21, 2010 2:54 pm

      Richard Armitage so outshines Matthew Macfadyen in this movie (even though, yes, I realize they were in different roles) it’s laughable. If Richard had been cast as the sheriff in the movie, the sheriff wouldn’t have faded into the background the way he did.


      • Friday, May 21, 2010 3:02 pm

        It’s terrible the way the sheriff’s role was barely used in this film…I have serious doubts that even R.A. could’ve saved it. I wish Ridley Scott would develop a sequel, though – I think the sheriff’s role would really get the chance to shine then.


  6. Sylvia M. permalink
    Friday, May 21, 2010 10:29 am

    Hmm…..I must confess…….I’ve never even read a book about Robin Hood, let alone seen a film about him. I suppose I should. He’s legendary after all. I grew up on girl stories about nurses, princesses, romances, etc. It was never even Hardy Boys for me. My oldest sister, on the other hand, read all the Hardy Boy books, Robin Hood, etc. As an adult she even bought an audio version of Robin Hood because it was narrated by Ioan Gruffudd! 🙂 She’s a Hornblower fan by the way.


    • Friday, May 21, 2010 2:55 pm

      I have that version of the audio book of Robin Hood (there isn’t really one definitive book, the legend has been written and rewritten so much throughout the years).

      I read mostly romance growing up, but I was drawn to the medievals, so that’s probably why the Robin Hood story appeals to me so much–because I love reading fictional accounts of that era.


      • Sylvia M. permalink
        Friday, May 21, 2010 10:47 pm

        My mom has some paperdolls of Robin Hood and Maid Marion that she used to play with when she was a girl. They are in the closet, along with a set of Sleeping Beauty paperdolls. The drawings were decent back then. They look like they could come alive!


  7. Friday, May 21, 2010 12:44 pm

    Amen to #3! I’m rooting for the bear and the chicken too! Great minds think alike. Just this week I was thinking about some of my favorite love stories and Robin Hood is on the short list, and I didn’t know about the new movie (yeah we live in a cave, ha). I’m definitely going to see it!!! What could be more surprising and complicated than cross species romance? 🙂

    Btw I like the new look of your blog.


    • Friday, May 21, 2010 2:59 pm

      The Disney version of Robin Hood is one of my favorite childhood movies. We had the album and listened to it regularly, so when I first got the DVD of the movie and played it, I could quote and sing along with it—even though it had been more than twenty years since the last time I’d seen it.

      Wanting to see a bear and chicken end up together . . . maybe that, along with growing up as part of a minority, helped me to be more accepting of ethnic differences as an adult!


  8. Friday, May 21, 2010 1:33 pm

    The Disney animated Robin Hood is the best Robin Hood EVER!!!!! Practically have it memorized. Wore out our video of it and was beyond ecstatic when it finally came out on DVD. My sister found flower rings somewhere that look like the one he gave Marian in the woods.

    I always wanted Little John and Lady Cluck to run off together too.


    • Friday, May 21, 2010 3:00 pm

      I think the “battle” after the archery contest is one of the best action scenes in any animated movie I’ve ever seen.


  9. Lizard permalink
    Friday, May 21, 2010 9:38 pm

    I too love the Disney Robin Hood. Prince John and Sir Hiss were a big hit in our house. I watched it for the first time in awhile about a week ago and I can still sing all the songs. It’s such a fun movie.


  10. Audrey permalink
    Saturday, May 22, 2010 4:59 pm

    Disney version is the only decent Robin Hood movie. I did a 25 page paper in College on Robin Hood, so i’ve seen quite a few. (Plus i’m biased – i’m a major Disney Geek).

    But if you include spoofs, then Men In Tights wins, hands down. I had to buy it on dvd because I know the tv version cuts out most of the good jokes. Plus it’s almost impossible to resist the catchy song:


  11. Monday, May 24, 2010 2:42 pm

    I loved Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves (1991) with Kevin Costner and Morgan Freeman and could watch it over and over along side the Disney version. I know that it’s not Robin Hood material, but have you ever seen Kate and Leopold with Meg Ryan and Hugh Jackman or LadyHawke (1985) with Matthew Broderick and Michelle Pfeiffer? I look forward to seeing the new one with Crowe in it.


  12. Saturday, May 29, 2010 2:24 pm

    Hi Kaye

    No, I’m not related to Morgan Freeman (that I know of), but I am author of ‘Robin Hood and Friar Tuck: Zombie Killers – A Canterbury Tale by Paul A. Freeman’.

    Just to clarify, my book is actually part of a wider Canterbury Tales project I’m working on, where I’m writing a series of Chaucerian narrative poems chronicling the return of Chaucer’s pilgrims from Canterbury.

    My website goes into greater detail, but in brief I’ve written eight ‘lost’ Canterbury Tales so far, my ‘zombie’ narrative poem actually being ‘The Monk’s Second Tale’ – for marketing purposes we needed a more eye-catching title..

    The main purpose of this ambitious project is to encourage teenagers to tackle narrative poetry and hopefully move on to Chaucer and his poems in Middle English. At present students tend to shy away from ‘The Father of English Poetry’.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that Chaucer wrote cross-genre. So who knows, if there were such a thing as Z-lit in his time, perhaps we’d already have Robin Hood tackling an outbreak of zombi-ism in Sherwood Forest.

    All the best

    Paul A. Freeman



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