The Men of Sherwood Forest
Cast & Crew
David King Wood
In 1194 A.D., King Richard the Lion Heart is being held prisoner in Germany, while back home in England, his brother Prince John plots to steal the throne. In an English forest, Squire John Fitzroy is ambushed and murdered, and his killers, Dicken and Hobbes, steal a small toy soldier he was carrying. The murder is blamed on Robin Hood, a former nobleman who lives in Sherwood Forest with a loyal band of followers reputed to be outlaws. However, the Count of Moraine believes Robin is loyal to King Richard and, with his friend Sir Nigel Saltire, makes contact with Robin Hood's right-hand man, Little John, who brings them to the outlaw camp. Moraine and Saltire confide to Robin that the toy soldier contains secret information about King Richard's return to England. As Robin is loyal to the king, he agrees to help find the toy. Soon after, Little John learns from a tavern girl named Mary that Dicken and Hobbes have been lavishly spending money in the tavern since Fitzroy's murder. Robin then goes to the tavern in disguise, gets Dicken and Hobbes drunk and kidnaps them. Under duress, the men confess that an unseen knight hired them to kill Fitzroy, but they can only describe the knight's shield design. Robin suspects the shield is a fake because it signifies the house of Moraine, so he and his confederate, Friar Tuck, pay a late-night visit to dishonest armorer Hugo. Although Hugo denies having made a counterfeit shield, he is proven a liar when a noblewoman and her knight arrive to return the shield in question. While Robin and Tuck hide, they overhear that the shield had been commissioned for use in a supposedly harmless masquerade. The guests soon leave, but Hugo succeeds in giving them a note for the sheriff, advising him of Hugo's unwelcome visitors. With the help of their friends posted on a rooftop outside, Robin and Tuck escape and return to the forest, where Lee, another of Robin Hood's men, has taken the wealthy Abbot of St. Jude, and his companions, hostage. When Robin's trusted friend, Will Scarlet, arrives with news that the woman at Hugo's was Lady Alys, and that the man who wore the shield was her uncle and guardian, Sir Guy of Belton, Robin suspects Guy of disloyalty to the King. After instructing his men to redistribute the Abbot's wealth and release him, Robin, disguised as a troubador, infiltrates Belton's castle. Alys is delighted with the singer, but Guy dismisses her when Robin plays a secret tune previously used to signal Guy, which Robin learned from Dicken and Hobbes. Guy then questions Robin, who lies that he was sent by a friend of Guy to help Prince John gain the throne. Guy remains suspicious, but invites Robin to stay the night at the castle and places him under guard. Later, Robin knocks out the dimwitted guard and witnesses Guy's aide Hubert break open the toy soldier. Hubert then informs Guy that a note inside the toy reveals the king's plan to arrive home the next day. After convincing the guard that his injury was an accident, Robin secretly shoots an arrow with a message attached to Little John, who waits outside. The next day, Robin is relieved to see that Guy's newest guest, the Abbot of St. Jude, is actually Tuck in disguise. Robin later talks privately with Alys, who, still believing that he is a troubador, tells him that she is intrigued by the legendary Robin Hood because the outlaw once helped a friend of hers marry her true love. Meanwhile, Saltire, who is secretly loyal to Prince John, encounters a messenger sent by Little John to tell Moraine about the king. After Saltire hears the news, and realizes that Robin is at Belton castle, he murders the messenger. Saltire then goes to the castle and exposes Robin and Tuck, who are imprisoned as a result. However, Alys imposes on Guy's pastor, Father David, to lend her his robes, and disguised as the pastor, she sneaks a file into the dungeon, with which Robin and Tuck saw through their chains. After luring their jailors into the cell and locking them inside, Robin escapes, but Tuck is captured because he cannot squeeze through the window. From outside, Robin whispers instructions to Tuck to distract the guards with a strip card game. Meanwhile, Robin forces Hubert at knifepoint to reveal the king's plans, then reveals his true identity to Alys and entrusts the information to her. When Robin asks her to find a trustworthy man to deliver a message to Little John, Alys volunteers, as she is also loyal to Richard. However, Guy has learned about how Alys used Father David and sends a guard for her. Robin knocks out the guard and Alys successfully escapes and delivers her message, which instructs Robin's band to save the king from assassination by Saltire. Robin then sounds the castle alarm and Tuck escapes as the nearly naked guards scramble for their clothes. After Hubert reveals to Guy that he lied to Robin about where Richard will land on shore, Guy plots to entrap the bandits. However, when the guard whom Robin has previously knocked out twice returns to Alys's chamber to collect the sword he left behind, he reveals Hubert's deception and that Guy has disguised his troops as foresters, so Robin and his men will be blamed for Richard's assassination. Alys waits until the troops depart, and then rides to warn Robin. Saltire, meanwhile, leads the king and his noblemen, Sir Henry and Sir Brian of Eskdale, who is Alys's fiancé, to Marley Woods, where Guy's troops are hiding in the trees. Saltire and his men abandon the king just before the ambush, but Robin and his band arrive in time to join the battle, during which Robin kills Guy. The king and his men are saved and later, Robin confesses his misdeeds to Richard, who pardons him out of respect for Robin's loyalty. The king then grants Belton castle to Brian and Alys, and instructs Robin and his men to capture some deer from his forest for that night's feast.
David King Wood
John Van Eyssen
J. Elder Wills
A 1954 copyright statement, attributed to Exclusive Films, Ltd., appeared on the viewed print, but the film is not listed in the U.S. Copyright Catalog. The opening title credits read as follows: "Exclusive Films Present Don Taylor as `Robin Hood,' The Men of Sherwood Forest, also starring Reginald Beckwith as `Friar Tuck.'" Although the film's title card read The Men of Sherwood Forest, the pressbook and other contemporary sources list the film's title as Men of Sherwood Forest. Patrick Holt's credit, listed at the end of the opening cast credits, reads "Patrick Holt as 'King Richard'."
The film opens with the following written foreword: "1194 A.D. England is a troubled land. King Richard the Lion Heart is a prisoner in Germany, with but half his ransom paid. At home, his brother Prince John is intriguing to obtain the crown himself. In the County of Nottingham Robin Hood and his outlaw band take toll from rich travellers. And it is a bold voyager indeed who ventures to ride through Sherwood Forest." The actors portraying "John Fitzroy," "Dicken" and "Hobbes" were not credited onscreen or in available contemporary sources.
Three ballads are heard in the film, however, neither their titles nor composers have been identified. According to the SAB, The Men of Sherwood Forest was released in Great Britain by Exclusive Films, Ltd., a company associated with Hammer Films, Ltd. Modern sources note that the film was released in Great Britain in 1954, and that The Men of Sherwood Forest marked the first color feature produced by Hammer Films. The film also marked the debut for actor Peter Arne. For information on other films featuring "Robin Hood," consult the entry for the 1938 Warner Bros. production The Adventures of Robin Hood (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40).