The legend that is Robin Hood has been told. Retold, expanded upon and also committed to celluloid on so many occasions. It is a story that we are all familiar with, a Saxon Lord that is driven into becoming a bandit by the cruel and tyrannicide ways of the Norman conquerors. But, saying this, with each filmic version that appears there seems to be something new brought to the storyline. We all know the basics, Robin Hood hero of the people, fighting for justice and also robbing the rich to give to the poor. So we start back in 1908, when ROBIN HOOD first appeared on screen in a silent movie that was directed by Percy Snow and entitled ROBIN HOOD AND HIS MERRY MEN. The next outing for the man in Lincoln Green was in 1912, when actor Robert Frazer took the title role in another silent movie version called ROBIN HOOD. In the same year British film makers produced ROBIN HOOD OUTLAWED which starred A. BRIAN PLANT as the peoples champion. Robin Hood also cropped up in IVANHOE (1913) with Walter Thomas as Robin. Then William Russell took up the long bow in yet another silent movie from 1913, followed in the same year by a short film IN THE DAYS OF ROBIN HOOD which featured Harry Agar Lyons.
Then to probably the movie that most look to from the silent era of movies which focused upon Robin Hood, it was released in 1922 and starred Douglas Fairbanks. Of course the silent movies I have mentioned were probably accompanied by some sort of musical score, in those days normally one that was based upon established classical music or at times a lone pianist who would improvise. It was not until sixteen years later that Robin and his band of merry outlaws got a full musical score, and what a score it was.
THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD is many peoples idea of the iconic cinematic version of the tale, with Errol Flynn creating a performance that he would be remembered for and also the film created a template if you like for most of the movies that would follow. The soundtrack is in my opinion just as iconic as the movie itself, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, created one of the most theme laden and thematic scores to come out of Hollywood and it is still to this day looked upon and regarded as the best Robin Hood film score ever. Lyrical, dramatic, tempestuous, romantic, lush, lavish and powerful, Korngold enhanced, elevated and supported the films storyline throughout with his robust and melodic soundtrack.
THE MARCH OF THE MERRY MEN is rousing and warlike but at the same contains an air of mischief and comedic pomposity. It is a score that underlines the actions and the dialogue without becoming overpowering and also becomes an important and integral part of the movies storyline. It was not however until 1946 that Robin Hood returned to the silver screen, in THE BANDIT OF SHERWOOD FOREST, the part of Robin was portrayed by Russel Hicks who looked more like General Custer than Robin Hood, but the star of the movie was Cornel Wilde who played Robins Son Robert of Nottingham. Implausible, yes probably, but was it a good movie, well define good I suppose, maybe passable would be a better way to describe it. Wilde in my opinion was not an actor that was at the top of his game, and the storyline too seemed to be a little lack lustre. In films like this the Merry men seemed just to Merry, after all if you were living in a cold damp forest with very little food and home comforts would you be going around laughing and smiling?
Probably not I guess, this was the beginning of the Hollywood-isation of the story of Robin Hood when it started to become not folklore but Americanised attempts at creating something that was quintessentially British and adding their own brand of humour and cliched scenarios. The music was courtesy of one of the most underrated composers of movie music Hugo Friedhofer, and it has to be said that Friedhofer’s score is probably more memorable than the film for which it was written.
Two years later, THE PRINCE OF THIEVES was the next incarnation of Robin Hood this time with actor Jon Hall as Robin, and I have to say if you are expecting anything like an Errol Flynn performance, you may be a little disappointed. Actor Hall was busy during the 1940’s appearing in numerous Arabian nights movies and this is why the director Charles H Schneer cast him as Robin, granted Hall does give a rather more roughish performance than many in the role of Robin, but again the movie which runs for just over one hour and ten minutes does not have the polish and richness of THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, and also because of its brief running time the story has no time to develop fully.
Again an American production with a musical score by an array of composers but the score was not an original work and much of it was stock or library music written by the likes of Hugo Friedhofer, George Dunning, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Joseph Nussbaum, Ben Oakland and Marlin Skiles all of whom were un-credited with musical director Misha Bakaleinkoff acting as conductor and supervisor. As the world moved into the decade of the 1950’s there were to be plenty of occasions when Robin and his band of Merry men were committed to celluloid, the first such outing came in the form of THE ROGUES OF SHERWOOD FOREST, again a Hollywood production, with John Derek donning the tights and Lincoln green garb in the role of the Earl of Huntingdon the son of Robin Hood.
A bit of a mish mash this one, as it takes place after the death of Richard the Lionheart and we see King John on the throne of England doing his damnedest to extract as much money out of his downtrodden subjects and at the same time cause a lot of misery and hardship and ends up with Robin and the Archbishop of Canterbury standing over King John whilst he is more or less forced to sign the Magna Carta, Dont you just love the way the Hollywood machine glamorizes and completely alters history to suit its own devices. Music was again stock pieces written by a handful of composers but most notably Mario Castelnuv-Tedesco and Heinz Roemheld with orchestrations by Arthur Morton. One interesting piece of trivia about the film is that the actor who portrayed Little John was no stranger to the part, Alan Hale Snr had portrayed the burly outlaw in two other movies, the first being in 1922 alongside Douglas Fairbanks Jnr and then in 1938 with Errol Flynn. It was also Hales last movie, but he had portrayed the same character three times in a twenty eight year period.
The next filmic foray into the Robin Hood story came in 1951 and also from American producers, TALES OF ROBIN HOOD was originally meant to be a series that featured Robin Hood which would be shown on TV. Sadly, the idea did not fully come to fruition and this pilot was the only episode filmed. A year later Disney studios released THE STORY OF ROBIN HOOD, which starred Richard Toddin the title role, and also featured Peter Finch as the Sheriff of Nottingham, James Robertson Justice as Little John and Joan Rice as Maid Marion, directed by Ken Annakin this was a US/UK production for Disney and was shot on location in the County of Buckinghamshire.
The rousing musical score was composed by British Maestro Clifton Parker who also worked on TREASURE ISLAND for Disney productions and is probably best known for his powerful score for the movie NIGHT OF THE DEMON as well as movies such as SINK THE BISMARK, THE WOODEN HORSE, THE 39 STEPS and THE SWORD AND THE ROSE. The composer scored over fifty motion pictures and was also responsible for concert hall compositions as well as numerous documentary soundtracks.
Young Robin Hood, is in love with Maid Marian, and enters an archery contest with his father at the King’s palace. On the way home his father is killed by the henchmen of Prince John. Robin takes up the life of an outlaw, gathering together his band of merry men with him in Sherwood Forest he plans to avenge his father’s death and to help the people of England against the tyrannical and evil Prince John who is over taxing and harshly oppressing them. This was actually quite a good movie and although it was slightly glamorized Disney style it still I think is up there as being one of the most entertaining pictures from that era which focused upon the Robin Hood character.
There were two other movies released in 1952 that featured the Robin Hood character or at least a permeation of the figure. IVANHOE featured the character in the form of Locksley played by Harold Warrender, the movie was scored by Miklos Rozsa who’s wonderful fanfares and dramatic music aided the production greatly. The movie was a popular draw for audiences at the box office. It starred Robert Taylor in the title role and also featured Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Fontaine and George Sanders.
The other movie from that year was MISS ROBIN HOOD a British comedy directed by John Guillermin, it was a slightly quirky take on the legend of Robin Hood but stuck to the characters values and deeds of taking from the rich and giving to the poor. The cast included numerous familiar faces from British cinema this included Dora Bryan, Sid James, James Robertson Justice, Peter Jones, Reg Varney, and Kenneth Connor and in the title role Margaret Rutherford.
The film was noted for many of its close up shots and unusual camera angles as well as a brisk and breezy musical score by, Temple Abady, who was responsible for penning the musical soundtracks for many British films. Born Harold Temple Abady in Hampstead, London on June 13th, 1903. The composer was particularly prolific in the scoring of romantic comedies and worked on a number of documentaries, much of his work for the cinema being conducted and supervised by the great Muir Mathieson. His film scoring career began early in 1947 when he worked on a handful of documentary shorts including THE THREE A’s A COUNTY MODERN SCHOOL and THE BALANCE, before being offered a score for a full-length feature. Which was Miranda in 1948. The composer went onto score many of the great British movies but sadly never gained the praise or recognition he so richly deserved.
In 1953 Robin Hood came to British TV screens, with actor Patrick Troughton in the title role, which was a rather unusual casting, but it seemed to work and with David Kossoff as the Sheriff of Nottingham the series was popular and was aired over a six week period.
Hammer films entered the Robin Hood arena in 1954 with THE MEN OF SHERWOOD FOREST, Don Taylor played Robin and the movie which was filmed in technicolor was directed by Val Guest. The score was written by Doreen Carwithen. The composer provided the movie with a suitably robust and swashbuckling score which was conducted and supervised by John Hollingsworth.
It was in my own personal opinion a case of the music being far better than the film it was intended to support. Carwithen was born in Haddenham, Buckinghamshire on 15 November 1922. As a child she began to take music lessons from her mother who was a music teacher the young Doreen starting both piano and violin with her aged just 4. Her Sister Barbara was also highly musical and the two siblings had perfect pitch. At age 16 Doreen began composing by setting Wordsworth’s I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud (Daffodils) to music and wrote a piece for voice and piano. In 1941 she began her training at the Royal Academy of Music and performed cello in a string quartet and also would at times play with orchestras. She was a member of the harmony class that was overseen by British composer William Alwyn, who after seeing her enthusiasm and potential also taught her composition. Her overture One Damn Thing After Another, received its premier performance at Covent Garden under the baton of Adrian Boult in 1947. The same year she was selected by the Royal Academy to train as composer of film music on a scheme that was sponsored by J Arthur Rank.
In 1961 she became William Alwyn’s second wife, and decided to change her name to Mary Alwyn, as she disliked the name Doreen, and took her middle name Mary as her Christian name. She later worked as a Sub Professor of Composition at the RAM. She was devoted to her husband and acted as his secretary. After he died in 1985, she decided to found the William Alwyn Archive and William Alwyn Foundation to promote his music and initiate related research projects. She then also returned to her own music. In 1999 a stroke left her paralysed on one side. She died in Forncett St Peter, near Norwich, on 5 January 2003. During her time as a film music composer she wrote over thirty scores her first scoring assignment being for segments of the documentary short , THIS MODERN AGE (1946). Other assignments soon followed and she was particularly busy during the late 1940,s through into the mid 1950,s when she also acted as assistant to Muir Mathieson and at times often acted as an arranger or orchestrator on film scores by other composers and was used many times to assist composers who were running out of time on certain assignments, most of these she received no credit for. She also composed the music for Elizabeth is Queen in 1953 which was the official film of the coronation her other documentaries included Teeth of the Wind (1953), The Stranger Left No Card (1952) and On the Twelfth Day (1956) where her music took the place of dialogue.
From 1955 through to the end of the 1950’s ROBIN HOOD became a popular hero for TV viewers especially in the UK. Actor Richard Greene assumed the character of Robin for the long running series which was shown in black and white. The music for the series was by Albert Elms and Edwin Astley, with a title and end song that achieved a high chart position on the British hit parade, performed by Dick James the lyrics are still to this day embedded deep in many a persons memory.
Robin Hood, Robin Hood, Riding through the glen
Robin Hood, Robin Hood, With his band of men
Feared by the bad, Loved by the good
Robin Hood, Robin Hood, Robin Hood
He called the greatest archers to a tavern on the green
They vowed to help the people of the king
They handled all the trouble on the English country scene
And still found plenty of time to sing.
It was also during the same time frame that TV series such as IVANHOE starring Roger Moore in his pre SAINT days began to become more and more popular, there was even a TV series of WILLIAM TELL at the same time and one about pirates which proved popular amongst audiences. THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD ran for an amazing 143 episodes and was also sold to many other countries including the United States. The music for the series was largely unnoticed because I suppose of the popularity of the song. But, do you remember the opening shot of ROBIN HOOD, where Richard Greene fires an arrow from his long bow accompanied by the proud nine note fanfare also do you recall the catchy and rather cheeky 7 note motif for THE SAINT that accompanied the halo around Simon Templer’s head? These are just two examples of some of the most well know pieces of TV music from the 1950’s/1960,
The composer of these two iconic pieces Edwin Thomas Astley, was born in Warrington in 1922. His father was a manual worker mostly working on building sites. Astley left school before he was sixteen and started work at the age of 14 working in an office where ovens were made. He was always attracted to music and took a keen interest in all things musical. He was given a violin by a relative and decided that he wanted to make music a career. He joined the R.A.S.C. band when he was still a teenager and took up the clarinet and saxophone, by the time he had reached his 18th birthday Astley was not only performing music but was arranging it for the band. In 1945 he won a cash prize for a song that he had co-written and was lucky enough to have it recorded by Dame Vera Lynn no less. It was also at this time that he met and married Hazel Balbirnie. After leaving the army Astley joined the Peter Pease dance band and soon had become accomplished enough to lead his own band, he re-located to London and was given a job at the music publishers Francis, Day and Hunter where he acted as an arranger for various vocalists. During the late 1950,s Astley moved into writing music for television, one of his first being ROBIN HOOD which became a popular series with adults and children alike. Another early TV series that he worked on was THE BUCCANEERS which led to him becoming involved on THE SAINT and DANGER MAN. In later years he worked on RANDALL AND HOPKIRK DECEASED and also provided some of the scores for THE PERSUADERS. He also worked on movies from as early as 1959, THE MOUSE THAT ROARED for example and in 1962, composed the score for Hammer films version of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, which included an original operatic composition and in 1973 wrote a serviceable soundtrack for DIGBY:THE BIGGEST DOG IN THE WORLD.
During the late 1970,s Astley went into semi retirement, and moved to the countryside, but even there he could not stay away from music, he constructed a recording studio at his home and installed a number of synthesisers and started to work on building a music library. He also worked on various projects with and for Pete Townsend (his son in law) and also worked on arrangements and orchestrations of tracks that had been made successful by THE WHO and THE ROLLING STONES and turned them into symphonic pieces that were performed by the LSO. He died in Goring, Oxfordshire on May 19th 1998.
After the success of THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, the outlaw Prince seemed to be confined to television for the remainder of the 1950’s with sections of the television series at times being edited together to form a mini movie of sorts, it was also at this time that IVANHOE came to British TV screens. The next cinematic outing for Robin being in 1958 when George Sherman directed THE SON OF ROBIN HOOD, which was a bit of a strange slant on the story, with not the Son of Robin Hood but his Daughter Deering Hood played by June Laverick being centre of the storyline. It was something of a predictable storyline and one which ended happily ever after, the music was scored by a stalwart in the world of British film music Leighton Lucas.
The composer was born in England on January 5th 1903, his Father Clarence Lucas was a celebrated composer. Lucas began his career as a dancer and via this became interested in music, he became a ballet conductor at the age of 19 and began to teach himself composition, focusing upon religious music and also writing for movies, The composer also worked as an arranger for the popular Jack Hylton orchestra from 1926 to 1930. His most noted film scores include TARGET FOR TONIGHT (1941), STAGE FRIGHT (1950), ICE COLD IN ALEX (1958) and also the score for THE DAM BUSTERS which he based upon the now classic theme written by Eric Coates. He died in November 1982. As the decade of the 1960’s dawned, audiences tastes seemed to be altering but it was evident that they still wanted to see more adventures of the Prince of thieves.
The first movie of the 60’s was released on boxing day in 1960, THE SWORD OF SHERWOOD FOREST, was directed by Terence Fisher for Hammer films. It starred Richard Greene who reprised his popular TV role as Robin for the big screen in glorious technicolour. The movie also starred Peter Cushing who was excellent as The Sheriff of Nottingham and had a suitably rousing musical score by Welsh Born composer Alun Hoddinott, the composer was not actually what one would refer to as a film music composer, in fact during his long and illustrious career as a composer of serious or classical music Hoddinott wrote just one score for a motion picture which was THE SWORD OF SHERWOOD FOREST, he also worked on two or three projects for television, but his main focus was writing music for concert hall performance.
The movie also featured Nigel Green as Little John and Richard Pascoas Edward Earl of Newark and included small parts for Oliver Reed and Derren Nesbitt. Basically it was an extension of what TV audiences had been served up from 1955 through to 1959. The soundtrack also included songs by Stanley Black.
Also in 1960 ROBIN HOOD AND THE PIRATES was released, this Italian production was directed by Giorgio Simonelli and starred Lex Barker as Robin Hood. Again the scenario was somewhat different from what many of us know as the story of Robin Hood. The movie begins with Robin joining Pirates but after numerous battles and adventures he becomes tired and decides to return to his homeland. He discovers that his Father has been killed and there is a phoney King upon the throne of England. He has no alternative but to return to his life as an outlaw to help the poor and fight the tyrant who sits upon the throne. Like so many Italian movies from this period it was something of a mish mash of themes and ideas, and bared very little resemblance to anything that had been released before. The musical score was by Italian composer, Guido Robuschi. Born in Parma, Emilia-Romagna on October 12th 1926,he was quite active as a film music composer during the 1950’s and 1960’s. He predominantly worked on the Italian SWORD AND SANDAL sagas, scoring films such as CAESAR THE CONQUEROR, COLOSSUS AND THE HEADHUNTERS, SWORD OF THE EMPIRE, FIRE OVER ROME and FURY OF THE PAGANS, his style was not dissimilar to that of Francesco Angelo Lavagnino, combining brassy flourishes and driving string sections with romantically laced interludes. His score for ROBIN HOOD AND THE PIRATES was serviceable but was more like a musical wallpaper at times running underneath dialogue when music was not really required, it was like the score was made up of library tracks rather than actually being scored in the normal fashion. But in my opinion many of the Italian movies from this period suffered from this type of scoring and the added inferior sound quality on films did not help at all. The composer had led his own light music orchestra up until 1958, and from then on he began to write music for movies on many occasions sharing the credit with, Gian Stellari.
We go forward now to 1967, and again to a Hammer films release, A CHALLENGE FOR ROBIN HOOD was probably not the greatest Robin Hood movie produced, but it did have to it a real boys own feel and character, the dialogue also was quite humorous in places which kept watching audiences amused and interested, Barry Ingham portrayed Robin and was quite convincing in the role. The film also featured Alfie Bass as a pie seller. The music was by Gary Hughes, his score helped immensely and supported the action as well as underlining the comedic and romantic scenarios on screen, Its such a pity that the film music of Gary Hughes has not been re-recorded as he has written many entertaining and robust scores. The composer was particularly active during the 1960, s and worked on a number of historical dramas for Hammer films. Born Gareth McClean Hughes on March 21st, 1922 in Nanaimo Canada, Hughes initially began his working career as a print setter but always had a passion for music. Whilst being employed in the printing industry he began to study music in his spare time, he eventually achieved his goal and became a musician becoming a trombone player and then progressed to doing arrangements and finally to becoming a composer. He re-located to England in 1955 with his wife Grace and settled in Richmond Surrey. He carried on doing arrangements and writing his own compositions and was asked to arrange some music for Sir William Walton, which threw him into the limelight and he began to work for several composers who were popular at that time. In 1960, he wrote the music for LINDA which was conducted by Muir Mathieson, soon after this he was recruited by John Hollingsworth who was the Musical director for Hammer films and worked on a handful of movies these included the period dramas, DEVIL SHIP PIRATES, THE VIKING QUEEN, PIRATES OF BLOOD RIVER and the English civil war tale THE SCARLET BLADE, which starred Oliver Reed and Lionel Jefferies.
He also collaborated with Muir Mathieson again in 1964 on the Cy Enfield directed HIDE AND SEEK. At the age of just 56, the composer passed away in Farnham Surrey, on April 25th 1978, this was after a series of strokes, the fourth of which proved to be fatal. It is a great shame that he passed away at such an early age, as I am certain he would have continued to be a sought-after composer of film scores, his music was particularly suited to the adventure movies of the 1960’s his rousing and jaunty themes adorning these productions. But he was a versatile and talented composer, arranger. There is not a great deal of his music available on any format, although GDI records did include a handful of cues on their compilations of themes from Hammer films. These are mainly the opening themes for the movies, a couple of which have made to sites such as Spotify. Robin Hood was also given the animated treatment the first of which was a Canadian production entitled ROCKET ROBIN HOOD, which was released in 1967 and was a made for TV series. In the same year the story of ROBIN HOOD would also become a musical, with lyrics by Sammy Kahn and music by Jimmy Van Huesen, the 90 minute television production starred David Wilson as Robin Hood and featured Douglas Fairbanks Jnr as King Richard.
As the 1960’s drew to a close Robin Hood popped up once again in WOLFSHEAD:THE LEGEND OF ROBIN HOOD, this was originally intended to be a series for television, but the pilot failed to attract much attention and eventually the series was cancelled, the pilot production ended up being released as a movie in 1973 under the title of THE LEGEND OF YOUNG ROBIN HOOD. The film starred David Warbeck as Robin and was directed by John Hough, the musical score was courtesy of Bernie Sharp, and was his only venture into scoring movies, He was better known as a comedy writer providing scripts for THE LARRY GRAYSON SHOW, BLESS THIS HOUSE, DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE, THE DAVE ALLEN SHOW and SHUT THAT DOOR which was also for Larry Grayson.
The 1970 ‘s were to prove just as busy for the man from Sherwood forest, the decade opened with an Italian/Spanish/French co-production entitled THE SCALAWAG BUNCH or L’ARCIERE DI FUOCO (ARCHER OF FIRE) to give the film its original title. Directed by Giorgio Ferroni it starred Giuliano Gemma as Robin Hood. Gemma had shot to fame in Italy via his many roles in numerous Spaghetti westerns. The music for THE SCALAWAG BUNCH was by Italian Maestro Gianni Ferrio. The composer was born in Vicenza, Veneto, Italy on the 15th of November 1924. He originally intended to become a doctor and began to study medicine during the 1950,s completing his studies at the University of Padua. However the composer soon realized that it was music that he was destined to be involved with and not medicine. He studied violin with Mariano Frigo and also expanded his musical studies to harmony, composition and musical direction under the tutelage of Amerigo Girotto and Arrigo Pedrollo.
In 1953 the composer began an intensive period of recording activity with the CGD IN Milan. He worked with many artists during this period of his career these included Teddy Reno, Jula de Palma and Johnny Dorelli. In 1959, Ferrio scored his first motion picture, which was a war/comedy, GUARDATELE MA NON TOCCATELE, the movie starred Ugo Tognazzi and Johnny Dorelli and was directed by Mario Mattoli. This was followed by TIPI DA SPIAGGIA in the same year, which was also directed by Mattoli and had Tognazzi in the leading role. In 1960, Ferrio scored his first western movie entitled UN DOLLARO DI FIFA the movie was another comedy and was directed by Giorgio Simonelli and yet another vehicle for actor Ugo Tognazzi, although produced in Italy this was not what is now referred to as a spaghetti western as it was released before the Italian western genre as we know it had been created. The 1960,s was a busy and fruitful period for Ferrio, he wrote the music for numerous motion pictures during this period and began to create his own unique sound as a composer starting to put his own distinctive musical stamp upon numerous examples of films which encompassed many genres.
Like so many Italian composers who worked in film during this period Ferrio scored many westerns at this time and although he was a composer that was involved heavily with this particular genre he never really conformed to the utilization of the “ITALIAN WESTERN SOUND“. In fact it is probably true to say that Ferrio created his own unique sound for the westerns he worked upon, on many occasions infusing a style that was somewhat jazz orientated. Unlike many of the other Italian composers that were active at this time, Ferrio very rarely collaborated with any other writer on his scores, in fact the one thing that linked Ferrio to others involved in the western genre was the choir IL CANTORI MODERNI, as Ferrio often used these and their director Alessandroni on his soundtracks. He did collaborate with Ennio Morricone on FORT YUMA GOLD, but this was we are told not a collaboration in the true sense of the word, meaning that each composer contributed compositions to the movie, with Ferrio’s contribution being the greater as in the majority of the music. The composer scored many key examples within the Italian western genre, these included, SENTENCE OF DEATH, DESPERADO, PER POCHI DOLLARI ANCORA, JOE CERCATI UN POSTO PER MORIRE, EL DJURADO,AMICO STAMMI LONTANO ALMENO UN PALMO, MI CHIAMAVANO REQUIESCAT and one of the last Italian westerns produced CALIFORNIA. Ferrio,s style is instantly recognisable, and the composer makes excellent use of the percussive elements of the orchestra, he invariably combines percussion and woodwind to achieve a sometimes dramatic and highly original sound. As well as writing for the cinema the composer has also written numerous scores for television and has worked prolifically as a song writer, composer and musical director for Astor Piazzolla, Toots Thieleman, Luis Bonfà, James Taylor, Jerry Lewis, Mina ,Caterina Valente, Ellis Regina, Ornella Vanoni, Milva and Gigi Proietti. His music has enhanced and supported approximately 120 movies and many television projects, he has worked with numerous directors, including: Ermanno Olmi,Luigi Zampa, Miklós Jancsó, Giorgio Capitani, Steno, Duccio Tessari, SergioCorbucci and Marco Ferreri. In his latter career Ferrio remained active and conducted the Roma Sinfonietta Orchestra in a number of concerts. Ferrio is in every sense chameleon like when it comes to scoring motion pictures as he seems to be happy writing for, Westerns, Giallo,s, Comedies, Sex and psychedelic capers, Romantic tales and also horror and adventure stories. He is an original and accomplished composer but considering his immense output it is surprising that he is still virtually unknown outside of Italy and the European continent, unless of course you happen to be talking to a fan of Italian film music. The Maestro passed away on October 21st 2013. He will be missed greatly, but has left behind a wealth of varied and innovative music for film. His score for THE SCALAWAG BUNCH has yet to be released but as Italian record companies open their ever full vaults I am confident it will surface one day very soon.
In 1971, Frankie Howard starred in the British bawdy comedy UP THE CHASTITY BELT and Robin Hood surfaced during the storyline portrayed by British actor Hugh Paddick, the Robin Hood character would from time to time be a part of films where he was not the main focus and also within comedy films that were basically fooling around with the legend of the Hood. As in ROBIN HOOD MEN IN TIGHTS which was a Mel Brooks movie, need I say more?
In 1972 the story was taken on by Hanna Barbera the animated movie studio, THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOODWINK, had an all animated animal cast and although at certain moments entertaining was probably not the most auspicious outing for the Robin Hood tale. It did however pre-date the Disney studios animated version by 12 months. But it is probably the Disney release that most youngsters remember when it comes to Robin Hood. Both Robin and Maid Marian being depicted as Foxes, released in the United States on November 8, 1973 it was the twenty-first Disney animated feature film, the story follows the adventures of Robin Hood, Little John and the inhabitants of Nottingham as they fight against the excessive taxation that has been inflicted upon the people by Prince John.
The idea to adapt Robin Hood into an animated feature dated back to Walt Disney’s interest in the tale of Reynard the Fox during production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). The idea for a film was shelved many times until writer and designer Ken Anderson mixed ideas for the film featuring the fox with that of the tales of Robin Hood. The writer using animals as the key characters, due to scheduling and casting problems the movie fell behind in its production and animators had to re-use certain dance sequences that had been in previous Disney movies in order to achieve its deadline. The film was initially popular and even created a positive vibe amongst critics, but as time moved on the films appeal seemed to wane a little, although it still remained popular amongst the Disney core fans. Music was by George Bruns who had worked on many Disney movies, including THE LOVE BUG. The film was narrated by Roger Miller, and included the voice talents of Terry Thomas, Phil Harris, Andy Devine and Peter Ustinov. In 1975, Robin Hood returned to the small screen, with TV versions such as THE LEGEND OF ROBIN HOOD for the BBC which starred Martin Potter in the title role and Diane Keen as Lady Marion. ROBIN HOOD JUNIOR which starred Keith Chegwin as a teenage Robin Hood.
Then in 1976 came ROBIN AND MARIAN, directed by Richard Lester this was a revisionist version of the story, which starred Sean Connery as Robin with Audrey Hepburn as Lady Marian and Robert Shaw as The Sheriff of Nottingham and Richard Harris as Richard the Lionheart. The music was originally scored by Michel Legrand but was replaced with a score by British composer John Barry. The movie also starred Ian Holm. Nicol Williamson, Denholm Elliot and Ronnie Barker. It was beautifully photographed by cinematographer David Watkin and wonderfully written by James Goldman. The movie was originally entitled THE DEATH OF ROBIN HOOD but Columbia pictures re-titled it so that it would be easier to market, and also as some suggest to give equal billing to Audrey Hepburn. Sadly the movie did not do that well at the box office at the time of its release, but has become something of a cult movie in recent years. The 1980’ s did not prove to be as fruitful when it came to movies about Robin Hood, there was TIME BANDITS with its spoof of the story with Robin being portrayed by John Cleese who played the outlaw as an upper class fool which was a parody of Charles Prince of Wales. There was also another version of IVANHOE a made for TV movie, that featured Robin Hood as played by David Robb. This was followed in 1983 by a Soviet re-telling of the Ivanhoe story which again featured the outlaw portrayed by Boris Khmelnitsky and contained a soundtrack that featured songs by Vladimir Vysotsky. 1984 and another comedy version in the form of the made for TV THE ZANY ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD which I suppose we can deduce from its title was not exactly Oscar material. It starred George Segal, Morgan Fairchild and Roddy McDowell. The TV production contained a musical score by British composer Stanley Myers.
The composer was born in Edgbaston England on October 6th, 1930, he studied at Oxford University, and by the mid 1950’s had already established himself as a songwriter and a musical director in theatres for musicals. His first foray into film scoring came in 1958 when he worked on the English motion picture MURDER REPORTED on which he collaborated with Reg Owen. Myers would not return to film music until 1964 when he scored DIARY OF A YOUNG MAN it was also in that year that the composer wrote the music to six episodes of the popular BBC series DR WHO, these episodes were, PRISONERS OF CONCIERGERIE, A BARGAIN OF NECESSITY, THE TYRANT OF FRANCE, A CHANGE OF IDENTITY and GUESTS OF MADAME GUILLOTINE. In 1967, he provided the score for the controversial movie ULYSSES which was based around the novel by James Joyce. Myers would also conduct many scores for other composers as well as his own and by the time the 1970, s arrived he had become one of Britain’s leading composers of film music and sought after by film directors and producers. It was in 1970 that he penned what was to be his most enduring and famous piece of music, CAVATINA, this was a piece originally written for the movie THE WALKING STICK, which starred David Hemming’s and then later more famously utilised in the Robert de Niro picture THE DEER HUNTER, it is a piece of music that is still to this day played all over the world at some point every day.
During the decades of both the 70’s and the 80’s Myers had a prolific output for movie scores but increasingly turned to writing for television. In 1980, he scored THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES a miniseries that starred Rock Hudson. The films he did work on all contained more than just serviceable scores, but had soundtracks that not only enhanced and underlined every scenario but also stood out as music that could be enjoyed away from the images that it was intended to support, THE RAGING MOON. In the 1980’s he collaborated with composer Hans Zimmer on numerous projects SUCCESS IS THE BEST REVENGE, PAPER HOUSE and MOONLIGHTING amongst them. As well as writing music for television Myers would often act as a musical supervisor or conductor during this period of his career. His last major film score was SARAFINA starring Whoopi Goldberg in 1992, but as the 1990’s progressed the composer was drawn towards productions for the small screen and his last six scores were for TV productions such as MIDDLEMARCH and HEART OF DARKNESS. Stanley Myers passed away on November 9th,1993 after a battle with cancer. I have to say that his music for THE ZANY ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD was far superior to the film it was intended to support and enhance. ROBIN OF SHERWOOD was a British TV series that began its popular run in 1984 and continued to entertain and thrill audiences until the latter part of 1986. It initially starred Michael Praed as Robin but later Jason Connery took over the title role. The series was to become the blueprint for many series and movies that were too follow and seemed to give the legend a more earthy and realistic persona, and was responsible for the introduction of the Muslim character The Saracen.
ROBIN OF SHERWOOD also contained a popular theme THE HOODED MAN which was written and performed by Clannad. Mention I think must also be made of MAID MARIAN AND HER MERRY MEN which was a British TV series aimed at children, where we see Marian as the leader of the outlaws and Robin reduced to being a rather dim and cowardly figurehead. The series had a good run and opened in 1989 and remaining on air until 1994. The 1990’s saw a handful of very good productions which had Robin Hood as their subject matter, the two that stay with me are ROBIN HOOD PRINCE OF THIEVES which starred Kevin Kostner, and ROBIN HOOD which starred Patrick Bergin. Although both dealt with the same material each of them were different and both had merits and pitfalls. The Bergin version was directed by John Irvin, The film begins when a miller, who is poaching deer on lands belonging to the King of England, is detected by a hunting party led by the cruel Norman Knight Sir Miles Folcanet. The miller escapes and runs away from the hunting party until he falls at the feet of a Saxon earl, Robert Hode (Bergin), and his friend Will.
The miller pleads for help and Will urges Hode to assist the man, as the Normans arrive threatening to poke the miller’s eyes out. Folcanet is enraged by Hode’s interference and demands that Hode be punished by the local Sheriff (shire-reeve), Roger Daguerre, who is Hode’s friend.
The movie I felt was quite faithful to the story of Robin Hood and did not try to dress things up or glamorize events whatsoever. The musical score by composer Geoffrey Burgon is suitably English sounding and at times understated but effectively romantic and adventurous. The film also starred Uma Thurman as the Maid Marian and Edward Fox as Prince John.
ROBIN HOOD PRINCE OF THIEVES did better at the box office than the Bergin version of events, but the movie had so many flaws and was filled with Hollywood-ism which earned Kevin Kostner a golden raspberry award for being the worst actor of 1991. The movie was entertaining enough, after all it was the second biggest grossing movie of 1991, but there were for me personally too many deviations from the story of Robin Hood that we all grew up with and have grown to love. Directed by Kevin Reynolds, the movie also starred Morgan Freeman, Christian Slater, Marty Elizabeth Mastrantonio and Alan Rickman who was I suppose the one saving grace in the acting department for the movie in his role as The Sheriff of Nottingham. The music was composed by Michael Kamen who fashioned a wonderfully rousing and theme laden soundtrack, which included the hit song EVERYTHING I DO I DO IT FOR YOU which was performed by Bryan Adams. The film also featured an appearance by Sean Connery as King Richard at the films ending. The other production that hit the screens during the 1990’s was ROBIN HOOD MEN IN TIGHTS, which was a parody of the Robin Hood tale courtesy of Mel Brooks, and constantly made references to other films such as PRINCE OF THIEVES, The Disney version and also the 1938 Errol Flynn movie. Music was by composer Hummie Mann and the film was also scattered with various songs, Its an enjoyable romp and as the films tag line stated on the publicity posters THE LEGEND HAD IT COMING. The 1990’s also yeilded a handful of other examples, such as, ROBINHOOD PRINCE OF SHERWOOD, ROBIN OF LOCKSLEY,(TV), THE NEW ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD(TV), IVANHOE (TV) (yes another one), BACK TO SHERWOOD (TV) and even an adult themed version entitled BOOBS IN THE WOOD. As the 21st Century began the tale of Robin Hood still endured and there were a number of productions during the first 9 years between 2000 and 2009, but sadly none of these were key in promoting or enriching the reputation of the already popular hero. Apart that is from the BBC series ROBIN HOOD which ran from 2006 through till 2009 which had Jonas Armstrong in the title role.
In my opinion it was not until 2010 that the tale of Robin Hood was given some kind of credence once more in Ridley Scott’s version entitled ROBIN HOOD which starred Russel Crowe and Cate Blanchard. The musical score was the work Marc Streitenfeld a German born composer who has in recent years collaborated many times with director Ridley Scott. Streitenfeld has composed the music for many high-profile Hollywood features as well as critically acclaimed independent films, including AMERICAN GANGSTER, THE GREY, BODY OF LIES, PROMETHEUS and the reboot of POLTERGEIST to name but a handful.
ich brings us more or less up to date, in 2018 a new version of ROBIN HOOD was released, this starred Taron Egerton as Robin and also starred Jaime Foxx as little John. The central character Robin is a war hardened character. Directed by Otto Bathurst the film which was originally to be called ROBIN HOOD -ORIGINS looks at the characters origins. The music is by composer, Joseph Trapanese who has created a score that has many variations and elements and I think successfully combines a contemporary sound and style with that of music that is more readily associated with the tales of THE HOODED MAN.