Thursday, January 05, 2006

Robin Hood 1950's TV series, Richard Greene.

Possibly the best versions of the Robin Hood legend are those made for the small screen, partly due to the way its episodic presentation can simulate the sequential verses of the original old English ballads. This television series which started in 1955 remains to this day one of the most engrossing versions of Robin Hood that we are ever likely to see. Mindful that every 1950's schoolboy would be an expert on these classic tales, each programme is produced with great care and attention to detail; the encounter with Little John on the bridge; the carrying of Robin Hood by Friar Tuck across the river; the archery contest; all are here.
Richard Green simply is Robin Hood. He combines the swashbuckling impertinence of Errol Flynn with the nobility of an educated English noble. But whereas Flynn may as well have been swinging through the rigging of Captain Blood's galleon, Richard Greene runs gallantly through a genuine looking English Sherwood Forest. Yet even his performance must take second place to Alan Wheatley's Sheriff of Nottingham. Wheatley exhibits a full understanding of what is expected of him as the dastardly villian, and no-one has ever come close to displacing him in the minds of the public as being THE Sheriff of Nottingham. His interpretation remains unique; evil, scheming, totally lacking in scruples, as camp as a row of tents, and totally cool. Wheatley's performance is matched by the lovably cantankerous Alexander Gauge as Friar Tuck. Whilst there are certainly traces of previous Friar's in his performance, he sets a standard that others will always be measured against. Veteran Archie Duncan is Robin Hood's most loyal and trusty side kick Little John, and is indeed the only other outlaw of legend who can be relied upon for regular appearances in the series.
Bernadette O' Farrell, the original Maid Marian of the series, perhaps lacks the warmth and affection one might expect of the role, ironically sounding rather too much like a well educated 1950's children's television presenter at times. But the real shortcoming is the lack of Robin Hood's Merry Men. Characters like Alan A'Dale and Will Scarlet make only fleeting appearances over the years in which the series dominated the ratings. For example, at the start of the series, Robin takes over as leader from a dying Will Scatlock, played by Bruce Seton. But Will Scarlet will not appear for another year, turning up as a womanising "dandy" rather than an angry aggrieved Saxon. However, anonymous outlaws there are a plenty, seemingly one in every tree, shooting lots of arrows into lots of the Sheriff of Nottingham's men. (See comments box for more cast details).

Summary: The Adventures of Robin Hood was produced by the independent TV company ITP for the ITV network, and exhibited production values in advance of its time. Highly recommended, and available now as boxed set DVDs.

The Robin Hood Pictures website http://robinhoodoutlaw.blogspot.com/ and the Robin Hood website http://robinhoodtree.blogspot.com/ contain more pictures from this television series.

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9 Comments:

Blogger Barnze said...

Also stuck a link to your site on mine..I hope it gets you some readers..great site about a great man..

9:49 AM  
Blogger robin hood said...

Robin Hood

The Adventures of Robin Hood

Richard Greene ...Robin Hood
Bernadette O'Farrell ...Maid Marian (1955-1957)
Patricia Driscoll ...Maid Marian (1957-1960)
Alan Wheatley ...Sheriff of Nottingham (1955-1959)
Alexander Gauge ...Friar Tuck
Archie Duncan ...Little John (1955, 1956-1958)
Paul Eddington ...Will Scarlett (1959-1960)
Victor Woolf ...Derwent
Simone Lovell ...Joan
John Arnatt ...Deputy Sheriff of Nottingham (1960)
Richard Coleman ...Alan-a-Dale
Rufus Cruikshank ...Little John (1955-1956)
Jill Esmond ...Queen Eleanor
Ronald Howard ...Will Scarlett (2 eps. only)
Donald Pleasence ...Prince John (1955-58)

NOTE: Paul Eddington played more than 20 different roles in the series before becoming the regular Will Scarlet

Director: Daniel Birt

Writers: Ring Lardner Jr., Ian Lartain, Robert Lees, Adrian Scott

Details of film cast and crews can be found at http://www.imdb.com/

8:54 PM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

I absolutely love this series and am still captivated by it as an adult as I was when a child.

1:48 AM  
Blogger robin hood said...

Hi Sarah,

I totally agree. The quality of this show still stands today.

As a boy this is what I watched. (And I even lived in Sherwood forest at the time!)

5:47 PM  
Blogger Kersti Lou said...

I love this one. Richard Greene is awesome as Robin. He's very handsome too. ha ha. But this is how I've always picture Robin Hood when I've read it. Love it!

5:07 AM  
Blogger robin hood said...

Hi Kersti,

I agree with much of what you say. This was "my" Robin Hood as a child, and I still prefer Richard Greene over many many others.

10:55 AM  
Blogger oceanmist4u said...

Great tribute to my favorite robin hood as a child. It was also my first introduction to British films. As an adult I love british films from classic B&W to films seen on BBC, masterpiece theater, and TMC.

4:45 AM  
Blogger Jan Roberts said...

I will be 59 later this year, and I agree with everything you have said about the 50s / 60s Robin Hood series. I so adored watching it as a girl. No-one has come close to portraying Robin the way Richard Greene did, same for the other characters - Friar Tuck, Little John, Patricia Driscoll as Maid Marion are well remembered. This afternoon I heard a voice on the tele which I was sort of watching - it was unmistakenly Richard Greene. This time in a Robin Hood movie, but without the other familiar actors to support him the movie isn't as good as the series.

6:16 AM  
Blogger robin hood said...

Hi Jan.

The movie you refer to is "Sword of Sherwood Forest", also reviewed on this blog. It does indeed suffer through not having the full TV cast.

8:31 AM  

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