The Adventures of Robin Hood
In 1960, Richard Greene starred in a theatrically-released Robin Hood film, The Sword of Sherwood Forest. Greene was the only regular actor from the TV series to appear in this full-colour version. Hammer Horror star Peter Cushing played the Sheriff of Nottingham. Sarah Branch was a Maid Marian who encountered Robin for the first time, proving that it wasn't simply a continuation of the TV series continuity. The plot revolved around an attempt to assassinate Archbishop of Canterbury and king's Chancellor Hubert Walter.
As a popular TV show, The Adventures of Robin Hood inspired several spinoff products and tie-ins.
Around the time of Kevin Costner's 1991 film Robin Hood - Prince of Thieves, several episodes were edited together into "movies" such as Robin Hood: The Movie which is available in both black-and-white and colorized versions. Elements of the episodes are edited out of order. For example, the last scene in Robin Hood: The Movie has the dying Will Scathelock asking Robin to become the leader of the band (from "The Moneylender") but many earlier sequences in the "movie" already show Robin in charge.
Several books were published based on the show, such as a "Rand McNally Giant Book" from 1955. This picture book features Robin's first meeting with members of his band, the archery contest against Giles Black (from "The Challenge") and the rescue of Will Stutely (from "A Guest for the Gallows"), but the compressed storytelling means that it is not faithful to the TV continuity. Still, the characters are drawn to resemble their TV counterparts.
The 1950s were a boom period for Robin Hood comics. Several publishers produced Robin Hood comics to cash in on the popularity of the Richard Greene TV series. Usually, the comic book Robin Hood of this era was clean-shaven with dark hair (like his then-current TV counterpart) and tended to have red, orange or yellow tunics rather than the familiar Lincoln green. Some of the hero's comic adventures were quite bizarre -- he faced off against tigers, hawks and apes. Once, the archer even donned a superhero disguise. Magazine Enterprises / Sussex's pre-existing Robin Hood series became The Adventures of Robin Hood with issue 6 and sported photo covers of Greene. With issue 7, Little John and the Sheriff (the comic's previous sheriff was dismissed) were drawn to resemble Archie Duncan and Alan Wheatley. The series ended with the eighth issue.
Meanwhile in Great Britain, publishers such as World, Miller and Streamline/United Anglo-American reprinted the American Robin Hood comics of the 1950s. TV Heroes had a Robin Hood comic feature. And Pearson's TV Picture Stories adapted three Richard Greene stories into comic book form.
Also, Amalgamated Press published a series of Robin Hood annuals, which collected both colour and black-and-white Robin Hood comic book adventures. The annuals reprinted comic stories from issues of the Sun and Thriller Comics Library.
These comics vanished by the time the Greene series went off the air.
And of course, there were toys and games made to tie in with Adventures. For example, there were jigsaw puzzles like the one from Built-Rite which showed Robin, Little John and other characters. Marx produced a line of plastic figures made to resemble Greene and his band of men. Oh, and then there were badges, patches and hats all made to tie in with the television show.
It appears that the first country to air the series was Canada. The Adventures of Robin Hood premiered on Thursday Sept. 22 at 6:00 pm on CBLT (Channel 9, later Channel 6), Toronto's CBC station, and at 7:00 pm on CKCO (Channel 13) and independent CBC affiliate in Kitchener, Ontario. For most of the first season, episodes aired nearly a week before other countries. By November 1955, the Toronto airing had moved to Tuesdays at 7:30 pm.
Although the first Canadian broadcast happened on the very day that the UK first got commercial television, the first episode ("The Coming of Robin Hood") premiered on British television (well, London television, anyway) on Sunday, September 25, 1955 at 5:30 pm. The last new episode to be aired in the UK, "Trapped", debuted on November 12, 1960.
CBS in the United States began showing the series the day following the first UK transmission, Monday Sept. 26, 1955 at 7:30 pm. An ad in The New York Times falsely claimed that the series filmed in the real Sherwood Forest.
Quite a few video guides say the CBS run was from 1955 - 1958, but that's not quite true. The original prime time run finished on Sept. 22, 1958 with the episode "To Be A Student". But on October 4, 1958, The Adventures of Robin Hood moved to Saturday mornings at 11:30 pm, beginning with a rerun of the second episode "The Moneylender" (according to TV Guide. Reruns continued for a few months. But then on January 10, 1959, CBS aired the fourth season episode "Sybella" on Saturday morning. More new episodes followed. The series left its Saturday morning time slot on Sept. 26, 1959 with the episode "The Truce".
For decades, however, The Adventures of Robin Hood has appeared in reruns around the world. Judging from DVD prints, some syndicated airings bore the new title "Adventures in Sherwood Forest".
The Adventures of Robin Hood Appreciation Society: The premiere website dedicated to this classic series, it features articles an episode guide, information on Nettlefold Studios, an online newsletter and much more.
The Adventures of Robin Hood at Whirligig: The Whirligig website is a good reference source for classic fifties television, and so naturally they have a page on Robin Hood.
The Adventures of Robin Hood Appreciation Society Message Board: Hosted on the Whirligig message boards, this is the place to discuss the classic Richard Greene TV series.
Of course, the primary source for this page are the episodes themselves - which you can order below. I also benefited from the websites listed above. Old TV Guides and newspaper articles were helpful in sorting out the airdates of the series.
In addition, I found the following books to be useful.
Robin Hood: A Complete Study of the English Outlaw by Stephen Knight. Oxford, UK and Cambridge, USA: Blackwell, 1994. The book takes a social-culture view of the legend, and looks at Robin Hood from the earliest ballads to the latest films. The book is out of print, but he has a new book.
ROBIN HOOD: A MYTHIC BIOGRAPHY by
Stephen Knight. Cornell University Press, 2003. This book features some more thoughts on the Richard Greene TV series, among other things.
"Robin Hood on the Screen" by Jeffrey Richards. There have been several versions of this article, including its appearance as a chapter in Richards's 1977 book, Swordsmen of the Screen. The version I used for this article appeared in Robin Hood: The Many Faces of that Celebrated Outlaw, BIS, 1995, pp. 135-144.
Information on the writers of the series and the Hollywood Blacklist can be found in:
I'D HATE MYSELF IN THE MORNING: A MEMOIR by
Ring Lardner Jr. New York: Thunder's Mouth Press / Nation Books, 2000. The memoir of one famous writer of the TV show.
HIDE IN PLAIN SIGHT: The Hollywood Blacklistees in Film and Television, 1950 - 2002 by
Paul Buhle and Dave Wagner. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003. The title says it all: a look at many writers connected with The Adventures of Robin Hood.
of Robin Hood starring Richard Greene. This classic 1950s
black-and-white television series is available in various video
editions, including a recently released boxed set. Clever plots (often based on real
medieval laws) and charm make this show rise about the time and budget
constraints of old-time television. The entire series is available by season in DVD boxed sets. Many low budget labels have released smaller collections of episodes in North America.
The Adventures of Robin Hood Spotlight Pages
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Text copyright, © Allen W. Wright, 2005.