ANIMATION SPIN
August 15, 2017 posted by Greg Ehrbar

Disney’s “Robin Hood” on Records

A look at the original Disneyland vinyl releases – as well as the new Disney Legacy Collection expanded soundtrack CD set – of the hit 1973 Disney animated comedy.

Walt Disney Productions’ Story and Songs from
ROBIN HOOD

Music and Dialogue from the Motion Picture Sound Track
Disneyland Records Storyteller Series #3810 (12″ 33 1/3 RPM / Mono)

Released in August, 1973. Producer: Jimmy Johnson. Assistant Producers: Evelyn Kennedy, Jim Melton, Jack Wood. Story: Larry Clemmons, Ken Anderson, Vance Gerry, Frank Thomas, Eric Cleworth, Julius Svendsen, David Michener. Musical Director: George Bruns. Running Time: 46 minutes.

Voices: Roger Miller (Allan-A-Dale/Narrator); Brian Bedford (Robin Hood); Phil Harris (Little John); Peter Ustinov (Prince John); Terry-Thomas (Sir Hiss); Pat Buttram (Sheriff of Nottingham); George Lindsey (Trigger); Ken Curtis (Nutsy); Andy Devine (Friar Tuck); Monica Evans (Maid Marian); Carole Shelley (Lady Kluck); John Fiedler (Father Church Mouse); Barbara Luddy (Mother Church Mouse); Billy Whitaker (Skippy Rabbit); Dana Laurita (Sister Rabbit); Dori Whitaker (Tagalong Rabbit); Richie Sanders (Toby Tortoise); Nancy Adams (Vocalist).

Songs: “Whistle Stop,” “Oo-De-Lally,” “Not in Nottingham” by Roger Miller; “Love” by Floyd Huddleston, George Bruns; “The Phony King of England” by Johnny Mercer.

Robin Hood was the second Disney film adaptation of the legend – the first being 1952s The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men starring Richard Todd and Joan Rice – and the third Disney animated feature featuring the voice of Phil Harris. This being the “What would Walt have done?” era, the studio was hedging its bets by re-delivering the elements that worked in The Jungle Book and The Aristocats. Robin Hood was a substantial success as the formulas were still working. How long they would continue to work was yet to be seen.

Robin Hood was like its three preceding animated features (including The Sword in the Stone) in that it juxtaposed a sense of time and setting with an anachronistic disregard for both. Each took the light comedy route, The Jungle Book doing so most perfectly. For some reason, a “swingin’ jungle” filled with skat singing and Dixieland jazz worked, while this informal, peppy approach seemed at odds with the subject matter in the other three films. The animation was still without peer, the personalities and voice work still outstanding, the music appealing, yet one could not avoid feeling a sense of disconnect between theme and execution.

The setting of Robin Hood was medieval but overall tone was rural, perhaps because when the film started production, rural comedies ruled the TV airwaves. Mayberry R.F.D., Green Acres and other homespun sitcoms were in the top ten, thus the casting of George Lindsey and Pat Buttram was sure fire at the outset. By 1973, the TV networks turned to more urban, sophisticated shows like All in the Family and Mary Tyler Moore. Entertainment was in a rapid stage of change.

Robin Hood cast the story with animated animals, so it’s silly to expect a very grave approach. But as Leonard Maltin observed about The Sword in the Stone, Disney animated features of this era were beginning to resemble Disney live-action features, particularly wacky comedies. It was fine for those of us who hungered for each new release at the time, but not necessarily a prescient practice.

The Robin Hood soundtrack album reflects all of this. Its very entertaining, never lags during its relatively lengthy playing time, contains wonderful dialogue sequences and likable songs. However, it does not have any music except for the songs (either the score wasn’t completed or there were over-budget fees involved) and like the film, the album is a series of episodic set pieces.

Robin Hood was the last animated feature that received the full Disneyland Records treatment under the direction of the divisions president, Jimmy Johnson. There were three different LPs, a read-along book and record and a 7 song record. The art direction, font, packaging and promotion of this particular album follow that tradition of success. Future albums would bear some resemblance, but would never be quite the same.

GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
“Oo-De-Lally” Roger Miller

This was the potential breakout song for the film, complete with catch phrase. It was seen often on TV in promotions and became most associated with the movie at the time.


Walt Disney Productions’
ROBIN HOOD Story and Songs

Disneyland Records #1353 (12″ 33 1/3 RPM / Stereo)

Released in August, 1973. Producer/Writer: Jimmy Johnson. Story: Larry Clemmons, Ken Anderson, Vance Gerry, Frank Thomas, Eric Cleworth, Julius Svendsen, David Michener. Musical Directors: Buddy Baker, George Bruns. Running Time: 19 minutes.

Performers: Billy Whitaker (Skippy Rabbit); Dana Laurita (Sister Rabbit); Dori Whitaker (Tagalong Rabbit); Richie Sanders (Toby Tortoise); Roger Miller, Nancy Adams (Vocalists).

Songs: “Whistle Stop,” “Oo-De-Lally,” “Not in Nottingham” by Roger Miller; “Love” by Floyd Huddleston, George Bruns; “The Phony King of England” by Johnny Mercer.

From a historical perspective, this “second cast” album of Robin Hood is more fascinating that it may seem. Two songs from the soundtrack are included: “Whistle Stop” and “Love.” The other songs, as well as the story, are performed by the children who did the voices in the film for the little rabbits and the tortoise (who is named Toby, just like the turtle in the Silly Symphony, The Tortoise and the Hare).

The voices of Skippy and Tagalong (Billy and Dori Whitaker) are the brother and sister of Johnny Whitaker, who had recently co-starred with Jodie Foster in Disney’s Napoleon and Samatha and the Sherman Brothers’ musical feature, Tom Sawyer. Foster and Whitaker also performed the Oscar-nominated song, “Love,” live on the awards telecast. Golden age Disney animator Judge Whitaker was the uncle of Johnny, Dori and Billy.

Skippy Rabbit, who had the bigger film role of the four, is the main narrator. The others chime in for humorous effect. This was a format Jimmy Johnson had used for the 1968 Disneyland Storyteller of The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band, in which Robie Lester narrated as Mayo Bower and Johnson’s daughter Gennifer provided commentary as Laura Bower (played in the film by Bobby Rhia and Pamelyn Ferdin, respectively).

GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
“Not in Nottingham” and “Oo-De-Lally”

Performed by all four children with a modest orchestra conducted by Buddy Baker, the most curious thing is that they pronounce it “Oo-LEE-Lally”.


Walt Disney Records
The Legacy Collection
ROBIN HOOD

Walt Disney Records D- 002546804 (12″ 33 1/3 RPM / Stereo / With Book)

Released August 4, 2017. Restoration Producer: Randy Thornton. Restoration and Mastering: Jeff Sheridan. Creative Direction: Dave Snow, Steve Gerdes. Package Design: Steve Gerdes. Liner Notes: Paula Sigman-Lowery, Randy Thornton. Original Paintings and Illustrations: Loreley Bov. Musical Director: George Bruns. Running Time: 90 minutes.

Performers: Roger Miller, Phil Harris, Peter Ustinov, Andy Devine, Nancy Adams, Pete Renoudet, Louis Prima.

Soundtrack Songs: “Whistle Stop,” “Oo-De-Lally,” “Not in Nottingham” by Roger Miller; “Love” by Floyd Huddleston, George Bruns; “The Phony King of England” by Johnny Mercer.
Soundtrack Instrumentals: “Whistle Stop,” “Oo-De-Lally,” “Not in Nottingham” by Roger Miller; “Love” by Floyd Huddleston, George Bruns; “The Phony King of England” by Johnny Mercer.

Bonus Track Songs:
“Not in Nottingham” by Roger Miller – Sung by Peter Ustinov;
“Love” (Robin Hood Version) by Floyd Huddleston; George Bruns – Sung by Pete Renoudet;
“The Phony King of England” by Johnny Mercer (Country Western Version) Sung by Phil Harris, Andy Devine.

Bonus Track Instrumentals:
“Whistle Stop” (Ragtime Demo); “Oo-De-Lally” (Country Western Demo).
Louis Prima Songs (1974): “King Louie and Robin Hood,” “Robin and Me,” “Sherwood Forest,” “Friar Tuck” by Floyd Huddleston; “The Phony King of England” by Johnny Mercer; “Love” by Floyd Huddleston; “Robin Hood” by Louis Prima, Robert Miketta.

A looooong awaited new title in the beloved Legacy series, this not only offers heretofore-unreleased Bruns background music, it also presents the songs in a sparkling clarity never heard before. When one listens to “The Phony King of England” for example, every instrument can be heard distinctly.

Surprisingly little of George Bruns film music has been released on records, discs or downloads, especially music from this period, so its a treat to hear so much of his unmistakable musical phrases. Some melodies are reminiscent of tunes in previous films, like “Hail to the Princess Aurora” and the dragon battle music from Sleeping Beauty and “Playful Melody” from 101 Dalmatians. The action/chase music heard near the end of the score is very much like the twangy music he did for other features of the time, like Herbie Rides Again.

Also included is a nice selection of alternate versions of the songs, including Pete Renoudets magnificent version of “Love,” which was done in a more symphonic style (even though this version was not used, Renoudet did provide Robin Hoods humming. All the songs from Louis Primas 1974 Buena Vista LP, “Lets ‘Hear It’ For Robin Hood” are also part of the bonus tracks.

GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
Buena Vista Fanfare / Intro / “Whistle Stop”

Its quite marvelous to hear this entire musical sequence and in such crystalline sound. Roger Miller retained rights to his songs, a reason why Whistle Stop has been often heard in commercials, films and even in the Hamster Dance.

15 Comments

  • Was it common for Disneyland to release albums before the movies were released? I see that two albums were released in August 1973, but the movie wasn’t released by Buena Vista until November.

    • Yes, with a few exceptions, Disney released records and books months before the film was released. I recall having the Robin Hood storyteller album memorized before seeing the movie. This is still the case but I don’t think it’s done as far ahead of time as it used to be.

    • I believe Disneyland did release a bunch of Winnie the Pooh albums before the original featurettes themselves were released by Walt Disney Productions/Buena Vista. For example, the “Honey Tree” album was released a year before the actual short film of the same name was released.

  • I absolutely LOVE the Legacy Collection soundtrack! “Robin Hood” is one of my all-time favorite movies, and I’ve been wanting so long for them to do a CD soundtrack. I’m glad they finally did it and that they did it the right way. It’s such a thrill to finally hear George Bruns’ score. He’s one of my favorite composers, and I feel he is so underrated. I noticed a little error in the booklet. When it mentions John Feidler, it says that he was the voice of Roo in the Winnie the Pooh films. He was actually the voice of Piglet.

    I also have the Storyteller album with Roger Miller narrating.

  • To put this in the context of the time: “Robin Hood” was an eagerly anticipated film. It was promoted and released as the Studio’s culminating event to cap off 1973–the year that “50 Happy Years” was celebrated by Disney. And yes, Disney albums at the time were often released well ahead of the film. I believe this was to establish familiarity and so that youngsters would beg their parents to see the actual film when it showed in theatres.

    The “50 Happy Years” celebration had been going on since January of 1973. The special logo appeared at the beginning of every Disney film shown in theatres, and there was a kick-off special on “The Wonderful World of Disney” TV show. (I believe the same special was repeated toward the end of the year.) The logo also appeared on nearly every Disney comic book published during that year.

    Another major Disney event toward the end of that year was the release of Christopher Finch’s “The Art of Walt Disney” a huge coffee table book that sold for a whopping $40 (an unheard-of price for a book in those days). Finch devoted an entire chapter to the making of “Robin Hood.”
    I will note here that the book was my most cherished Christmas present EVER–my family could not afford that book, yet my mother managed to get it for me.

    There was much media buzz as well about the film. Remember, in those days a new Disney animated feature was an extremely rare event. Records, comic books, posters, stuffed toys, and just about every other type of merchandising you can imagine was on hand in the months before, during, and after the movie’s release. Reviewers were generally lukewarm toward the film, but audiences didn’t care–there was a public appetite for a new Disney feature.

    Note also that this was the FIRST Disney animated feature with NO human characters (you could consider “Bambi” but there were those pesky offstage hunters who just had to ruin everybody’s day). Well, of course, the Robin Hood characters were all based more on humans than animals, but still, my friends and I were gratified that the animal characters carried the day in this film.

    That year just before Christmas the program “From All of Us to All of You” was aired on “The Wonderful World of Disney” (which in that era had virtually abandoned animated fare and served up a weekly course of live-action animal stories or recycled live-action films divided into multiple parts–maybe one or two animated shows might get rerun during a year but that was it). The “Surprise Package” presented by Jiminy Cricket was the new film “Robin Hood.”.

    When I finally saw the film, it was between Christmas and New Year’s–and our local theatre had a special showing that included a “sneak preview” of “Superdad”–a film that was to be released to general audiences in the coming months and also a classic Mickey Mouse cartoon (another relative rarity in those days) “Mr. Mouse Takes a Trip.” After these extras, the “Robin Hood” film was shown. All in all, a VERY exciting time for a 13-year-old Disney fan!

    • As you may know, Scandinavian television keep showing “From All of Us to All of You” every Christmas. In the Swedish program, this clip from Robin Hood has been included every year (except 1998, when they failed to secure the rights for the clip) since 1974 (the Swedish premiere for Robin Hood was Nov 30th 1974). In 1983 they changed the ending to a different part of the wedding, but that’s the only change I’ve noticed for over 40 years.

      I don’t know for sure if this is the same clip that was used in the 1973 edition of the original US broadcast, though. I’ve tried to find copies of the US versions of this episode, but I’ve only found the 1960 and 1977 versions so far (and I have a copy of a Norwegian broadcast from 1986 that appears to be the 1970 episode with the original Surprise Gift (Aristocats) replaced with a clip from The Great Mouse Detective).

  • Hey, sincere apologies for the off-topic post, but I just know that a lot of people here will laugh really hard at this “Disney” pin: https://www.witchsy.com/pins-and-patches/lapel-pins/milk-milk-lemonade-pin-clone/ (I didn’t make it.)

  • Amazing how Disney got the “rural tv” stars like Pat Buttram,George Lindsey and Andy Devine to star in Robin Hood even though they were victims of the infamous and controversal “Rural Purge” where many live action comedy, drama and variety tv shows set in rural regions were being cancelled by the Big Three networks (ABC,NBC & CBS). As Pat Buttram said once on CBS cancelling Green Acres and forfronting The Rural Purge, “It was the year CBS cancelled everything with a tree-including Lassie!”

    • And there was also Ken Curtis from “Gunsmoke” which survived the “purge” (probably because it was a Western). Buttram and Devine were also famous for being comedy-relief sidekicks in dozens of B-Westerns, and both had voices that were compared to “broken train whistles.”

      I had a 78 of Louis Prima’s “Robin Hood,” and another Prima record on Robin Hood Records (“Always a hit!”).

    • Ken Curtis ought to be lucky to be on Gunsmoke at all. Reminded he was also behind producing several cheesy B-flicks during the 50’s like “The Killer Shrews” and “The Giant Gila Monster”.

  • Oo-de-lolly! Thanks for the article, Greg. First rate, as always!

    I remember 1973 well. It was my first year of college, and I had use of the family car for classes, so naturally I used it to drive to a showing of Robin Hood (I just never told my parents!) I even wrote a review of the film in the college newspaper … along with The Way We Were, which I’d also managed to see (I did go to classes, I swear).

    I can still sing the “50 Happy Years” song! That year also saw re-releases of Cinderella and Mary Poppins and the first sequel to The Love Bug, Herbie Rides Again. And I have the 50 Happy Years – 2 album set, which had many of the songs from Disney soundtracks (or their equivalents) … though curiously not the 50 Happy Years song itself. I have both versions of the Robin Hood LP’s, and, of course, played them till I almost wore them out!

    I also remember the “From All of Us to All of You” World of Disney telecast for Christmas 1973 … and Robin Hood as the “surprise gift. (as I believe “The Sword in the Stone,” “The Jungle Book,” and “The Aristocats” had been in the 60’s upon their earlier releases. I always looked forward to that whenever that program aired since (until the late ’80’s) it included the “Bella Notte” scene from my favorite Disney movie Lady and the Tramp. In those days before videotapes, catching even a scene from a Walt Disney classic was a rare treat!

    All in all, I think Robin Hood holds up well for what it is. It’s not as great as I though it was in 1973 (but back then I crowed about any Disney animated feature) but it is a lot of fun …. and when I want a Disney movie just to make me laugh … this is the one I put on. The scene right after the archery contest cracks me up … as do Peter Ustinov and Terry Thomas as Prince John and Sir Hiss.

    I haven’t gotten the Legacy version yet, and I’m still somewhat amazed that this title continued the series over some others (I really want the soundtracks to The Rescuers and The Fox and the Hound). But I am glad it’s been released and I will be adding it. And I’m hoping other Legacy titles will be offered in the coming months/years.

  • The voice of adult Gideon Grey in Zootopia is a kind of hick Pat Buttram style (Phil Johnston).
    I think Buttram voiced one of the bullets in Eddie Valiant’s gun in Roger Rabbit.

    • I would think the voice was more standard redneck/country bumpkin. I suppose though such voices are pretty common when it comes to depicting characters from small rural communities/settings.

  • The voices of Skippy and Tagalong (Billy and Dori Whitaker) are the brother and sister of Johnny Whitaker, who had recently co-starred with Jodie Foster in Disney’s Napoleon and Samatha and the Sherman Brothers’ musical feature, Tom Sawyer. Foster and Whitaker also performed the Oscar-nominated song, “Love,” live on the awards telecast. Golden age Disney animator Judge Whitaker was the uncle of Johnny, Dori and Billy.

    Nice info here. I reminded myself as a kid, I did wonder who voiced Skippy and the other supporting characters in the film, as the opening credits chose to only highlight the main cast via recycled footage seen later in the film. I sorta wondered who was Otto, Sexton Mouse and the rest but it wasn’t until IMDB came around when I found out, but certainly that was not information could you get very easily in those pre-internet days.

  • I watched this on Netflix last winter for the first time in decades. It holds up quite well. The ‘Not in Nottingham’ bit is pretty good as well. Roger Miller was a fun, unique talent. I remember watching this in the theatre when it came out, loved it then and we later got this very soundtrack record, played it to death.

    You recaptured the time and place of this movie the right way, it was a hit, it was an event movie, and yes we also got that Art of Disney book the next winter. (which is sitting right here on my coffee table). I enjoyed this article. Nice going.

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