Written by exiled leftists, the 1950s Robin Hood television series turns out to have been much more freedom loving and suspicious of collectivism than they knew.
I think it was Thursdays, but it might have been Tuesdays. I’m pretty sure the day started with a T.
It was the best day of the week that year in elementary school for me, because we could get optional chocolate milk with our school lunch, and Robin Hood was on TV in the evening.
Loved that show — the swashbuckling adventures of Robin (Richard Greene), Little John (Archie Duncan), Maid Marian (Bernadette O’Farrell, later Patricia Driscoll), and Friar Tuck (Alexander Gauge), battling the corrupt (but always well dressed) Sheriff of Nottingham (Alan Wheatley), week after week. I have no doubt it was that program that instilled in me the love for things medieval that motivates me to dress up as a Viking reenactor on weekends, even at my age.
My adult experiences with rediscovering beloved childhood television programs have mostly been disappointing. When I get a chance to see an episode (or, worse still, buy the DVD set), I can usually expect a rude collision with shoddy writing, wooden acting, and cheap costumes and sets.
So it was with some misgivings that I approached the complete collection of The Adventures of Robin Hood. But it was on sale at a very low price at my local used book store, and I took the chance.
I was pleasantly surprised. The acting is good, the costumes not bad, and the sets (by artistic director Peter Proud) were groundbreaking, achieving an illusion of variety on a limited budget.
Still, for any conservative fan of this series, there must always be the problem of the Legend of The Adventures of Robin Hood. Not the original legend of “Bold Robin” based on English ballads, but the (factual) political legend of how the show came to be written.
Producer Hannah Weinstein was an avowed leftist, and made a point of hiring expatriate American writers, notably several members of the Hollywood Ten, like Ring Lardner, Jr. These writers, living in England where the show was filmed, worked under pseudonyms. They were happy to relate, in later years, how they managed to smuggle redistributionist propaganda into American homes during the Eisenhower years.
And yet, my own impression is that — at least a lot of the time — the stories they wrote did not bear out their principles nearly so well as they thought.
The very first episode, “The Coming of Robin Hood,” tells how Robin of Locksley — no member of the proletariat, but lord of an estate — comes home to find his property unjustly confiscated by the authorities. His resistance to this injustice makes him an outlaw, and much is made of the fact that the government has no right to steal private property.
That’s not what I’d call a good start for a series promoting Collectivism.
An episode called “The Salt King” in Season Three concerns a nobleman who holds a monopoly on the sale of salt in Nottinghamshire. His underhanded scheme to decrease supplies and raise prices is the stuff that Progressive propaganda is made of, I’ll admit. But, interestingly, the solution Robin and his friends come up with involves not the nationalization of the salt wells, but the threat of competition, when the individual landowners convince the monopolist that they’ve found salt on their own lands.
Another interesting episode from Season Three is “One Man’s Meat,” in which a nobleman with nutritional theories tries to force his servants and serfs to live on a miracle diet composed of nuts and roots. Modern leftists, many of whom are vegetarians, will probably be distressed to see Robin smuggling meat in to the suffering castle occupants. He then proves by means of a blind study (apparently having invented modern science single-handedly) that the nobleman’s food is healthy for pigs.
And what kind of government is more likely to force dietary laws on its citizens, anyway? Capitalist or Communist?
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online