Robin Hood

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Friday, June 25, 2010

The current epic film Robin Hood is one of this summer’s hits, another telling of that famous tale of outlaws and arrows. In this edition of The Fishko Files, WNYC’s Sara Fishko takes us back to one memorable version of Robin Hood that contains some peculiar twists of history and mystery....


In 1947 the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) came to Hollywood to investigate Communist Party affiliations and sympathies in the movie industry. They held hearings, and many members of the Hollywood community refused to answer HUAC’s questions about their political beliefs and associations, causing them to be held in contempt of Congress. On December 3, 1947, the Motion Picture Association of America buckled under the pressure of HUAC and issued the Waldorf Statement, which supported a blacklist of those who refused to cooperate with the Committee.

If blacklistees named their friends and coworkers as Communists or Communist sympathizers, they were offered removal from the list. Many saw such action as a betrayal, and wouldn’t name names. Those who refused became known as unfriendly witnesses. The consequences for them were great and varied: Some worked under assumed names, and some never worked in Hollywood again.  

"The Adventures of Robin Hood" television series -- produced in the U.K. in the 1950s -– was one example of a place where writers found work during the blacklist period.

To hear more Fishko Files exploring 1950s culture and politics:

Paul Buhle’s new book is "FDR and The New Deal, for Beginners." Click here to learn more.

Mix Engineer: Wayne Shulmister

Assistant Producer: Laura Mayer

Produced by:

Sara Fishko

Comments [5]

Mark S. Lipkovitz from Ridgewood, NJ

Dear Ms. Fishko,
If you've never seen the Robin hood episode "Lincoln Green", you must. There's a special element to this piece. I have it and can be reached at the above e-mail.

Thank you for a great, enlightening piece.

Jul. 25 2010 11:24 AM
Harry from Brooklyn

Having spent the '50s as a child in fiercely anti-Communist Cincinnati (for several years, the local papers referred to the baseball team as the "Redlegs"), I am grateful to Sara for showing me, with such care, charm, and candor, what was happening in another part of the forest

Jun. 29 2010 01:36 AM
Mike from New York (but from UK)

Loved the Robin Hood piece this morning. When Sarah started by referring to "another, earlier screen Robin Hood", my first thought was "oh no not Errol Flynn or Douglas Fairbanks Jr again".

Then the opening theme of the old Robin Hood TV series stopped me in my tracks - this time it was about the _real_ screen Robin Hood, Richard Greene!

I loved that series as a kid in early-Sixties Scotland,so to hear all about its Hidden History was absolutely fascinating - now I know how they managed to put complete plots, sub-plots, characterisations etc into low-budget 30-minute episodes.

Jun. 25 2010 05:11 PM
John from New Jersey

Thanks for the fascinating story. For years I've been telling people that my '60s generation of lefties were deeply albeit unconsciously influenced by thye TV series Robin Hood, and now we see why I was right!

Jun. 25 2010 08:21 AM
Robert from NYC

Oh thank you so much for this piece. I love ALL of Sara Fishko's work but this was special for me because as a kid I loved this Robin Hood series. It was one of the series I was sure to watch every week. It was excellently produced and acted and I wish it could be rerun now.
Thank you again for this particular Sara Fishko story but then again for EVERYTHING she presents. I hope she's winning awards from everywhere for her spectacularly brilliant scholarly research and work which is presented for all to enjoy and understand. She is truly special.

Jun. 25 2010 08:03 AM

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