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.
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An episode called “The Minstrel,” also in Season Three, certainly sprang from the deepest hearts of the blacklisted American writers. A minstrel composes a song making fun of the Sheriff. The Sheriff, concerned that the city look good for an upcoming visit by Prince John, outlaws all singing. Obviously this is a poke at the United States, which had imprisoned some of them (though technically they didn’t go to jail for what they’d written, but for refusing to reveal Communist connections).
Yes, yes. I see the point.
And yet, if you were to look for a country that sent people to prison (and even put them to death) for the content of their writings, wouldn’t the most obvious parallel be a certain world power located to the east?
A similar episode, “The Doctor,” from the same season, involves a principled physician who is threatened with a show trial (sentence predetermined) for the crime of treating Little John.
I take the point, of course. Still, it seems to me that while the Hollywood Ten’s treatment by the House Committee on Un-American Activities may not have been the high point of American constitutional jurisprudence, there was another world power whose show trials were far more brutal, and whose victims generally ended up dead, not living comfortably abroad, writing television scripts.
All in all it seems to me that The Adventures of Robin Hood wasn’t nearly the propaganda engine the writers wanted it to be. The reason, I think, is simple. Good writing mirrors real life. And real life is essentially conservative. These writers were too good to really try to impose Marxist principles on their stories.
Another notable element, through the entire run of the series, is its treatment of the Roman Catholic Church.
Although in the ballads Robin Hood was always a faithful Christian, his relationship with churchmen was ambivalent. His alliance with Friar Tuck notwithstanding, “fat abbots,” who were also feudal lords, were frequent victims of the Sherwood robbers.
But in this series, churchmen are always friends to the people, and the church promotes liberty 100% of the time.
No doubt this was due to the broadcast standards of English television in those days. Criticism of Christianity was not permitted, particularly in children’s fare. The Communist, atheist writers must have chafed under that restriction, but they bit their tongues and wrote as they were told.
Because if there’s one thing Communists are good at, it’s obeying government orders.
As long as it isn’t the United States government, under Republicans.
I will admit, though, that my set of DVDs does live up to the standards of the Soviet Union in one important respect.
They’re shoddily manufactured. Half the episodes on the last three discs are garbled and unwatchable.
The spirit of the Revolution lives on.
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.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?