227. Robin Hoodlum – John Hubley

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SUMMARY: The Sherriff of Nottingham is tasked with catching Robin Hoodlum, but he evades his every attempt.

WHY IT’S HERE: When Industrial Film and Poster Service, who made such great films as ‘Hell Bent for Election’ and ‘Brotherhood of Man’, became United Productions of America (or UPA, as they are now more famously known) and began producing theatrical shorts, it was with a necessary element of compromise the like of which the studio would rarely entertain. In order to get a foothold in the industry they agreed to make a short series of cartoons with Columbia Pictures established but hardly formidable characters Fox and Crow.

The Fox and Crow had first appeared in an adaptation of the famous Aesop fable but Columbia has attempted to keep the characters going as potential stars. The problem was the duo did not really have set personalities, shifting in character as each cartoon demanded. This allowed UPA to cast them in a series of different roles and, though they were still the same characters in appearance, the result was actually three very different films. Although ‘Robin Hoodlum’ is atypical for UPA in that it features talking animals, something they had vowed to avoid, it immediately establishes the more cerebral UPA approach with witty verbal comedy largely taking the place of slapstick gags. Compromise though it may have been, ‘Robin Hoodlum went on to receive an Oscar nomination and emerged as a very fine theatrical debut for a studio that would soon become the most critically acclaimed and influential of its era.

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