Friday, April 28, 2006

Friar Tuck : Five Favourite Friars

Number 1: Alexander Gauge's Friar Tuck was as popular a character in the 1950's television series as Robin Hood himself. He is the most popular Friar Tuck of all time. Every schoolboy in the land chuckled at, and identified with, his seemingly insatiable desire for food and drink; a recurring theme in U.K. pre-adolescent humour, from Billy Bunter to Desperate Dan. But Gauge's Friar is an intelligent man, rarely engaging in combat, and rather using his wily skills in negotiation together with a sound knowledge of the law, to reach his goals.
Number 2: Michael McShane played Friar Tuck in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves (1991). The film itself has many disappointing aspects, but McShane is not one of them. Here we see all those characteristics of Tuck which occur in the legends; not just a jolly fat man, but a cantankerous, moody, even lecherous Friar, quick tempered, with a love of alcohol, and yet a devout holy man. (There is an interesting sub plot here as Friar Tuck wrestles with his personal concerns about a Muslim outlaw joining the group).
Number 3: James Hayter played Friar Tuck on more than one occasion, but it is for the Disney production The Story of Robin Hood (1955), that he will be remembered, rather than A Challenge for Robin Hood (1967). He also appeared in the 1950's television Robin Hood series in the role of a miller. Hayter's interpretation of the Friar is outstanding in the Disney film, establishing perhaps more than any other actor a public perception of the character which persists to this day: Comical, greedy, quick tempered, but above all lovable. This was after all a film for all the family.
Number 4: Ronnie Barker provided Robin and Marian (1976) with a much quieter Friar Tuck than is usual. Barker manages to hold himself in reserve in his portrayal of the final days of Friar Tuck, avoiding the excesses normally associated with his television performances as a comedian, and the result is intriguing. A small part in an excellent film and one which comes to mind long after the film is over.
Number 5: Eugene Pallette played Friar Tuck in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938). This was certainly not the first successful Robin Hood film, but it was the first major success to have sound, and as such it's interpretations of the characters would be influential for decades to come. Pallette's interpretation is quite faithful to the legend; a good swordsman, grumpy and greedy. But it does lack the humour, warmth and charm of later adaptations.
Click here to read about how Robin Hood met Friar Tuck.
Click here for more Friar Tuck pictures.
Click here to see where Friar Tuck's Well

Robin Hood website for film reviews
Robin Hood Pictures website

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