‘Miss Robin Hood’ (1952) was made for the Margaret Rutherford fan. She’s as dotty as anything and it’s an utter delight. She is wonderfully supported by Sid James as her taxi driving chauffeur with a penchant for knitting. And I must also mention Dora Bryan as the barmaid, who isn’t in it nearly enough. I always seem to say this about Dora (with ‘A Taste of Honey’ as the exception) – she always leaves us wanting more of her.
The co-star of the film though is Richard Hearne, who I was hitherto unfamiliar with, but apparently he was famous at the time for a character called Mr Pastry. He is well casted, and frankly he is the only believable element of this film. It is fantasy, but a delicious one that you want to repeatedly get lost in. Hearne plays Mr Wrigley, a writer and editor of a childrens’ newspaper. He is most famous for his series of stories about ‘Miss Robin Hood’ – a thieving schoolgirl who is carrying out her own version of justice. Meanwhile, Miss Honey (Rutherford) wishes to secure a secret drink recipe from James Robertson Justice, whose Great Grandfather stole it from hers. Being a child-like creature, she railroads Wrigley into assisting her in this, believing that the creator of Miss Robin Hood must be a crime expert. As you can imagine, all sorts of incidents follow on and Wrigley ends up resigning from his post.
But there is a happy ending, of course. And as Wrigley is persuaded to take his job back he is reminded that Conan-Doyle will always be remembered for his series of stories in a newspaper. This is where our history comes in. Think too, of Charles Dickens, whose stories were also serialised before becoming novels. And then there is the wartime film ‘Mrs Miniver’ – a fictional newspaper column by Jan Struther brought to life on screen.
That kind of opening for writers seems to have been killed off. But what better way to sell the product of an ailing industry but to publish gripping serial stories in them? And what an opening for aspiring authors too. Newspaper editors! What have you done? I don’t want soap star gossip! I want a good old fashioned yarn. Just like ‘Miss Robin Hood.’
That's all from me for now. Thanks to all the contributors and supporters of The History Usherette.It's been grand.