John Derek – His early career then Rogues of Sherwood Forest

John Derek (12 August 1926 – 22 May 1998) was the son of silent era actors Lawson Harris and Dolores Johnson.

His mother was incredibly beautiful, turning heads wherever she went with her good looks. His own good looks were soon noticed, and he was groomed for a film career by both his agent David O Selznick and Henry Willson (who gave him the temporary stage name of Dare Harris).

He once become Shirley Temple’s “Studio Boyfriend”. Shirley Temple and Dare Harris (John Derek) ended up under contract to Twentieth Century Fox at the same time. This gave the studio the idea to “gently force” the two to date as a part of a publicity stunt. In 1944, Twentieth Century Fox even gave him small roles in two of Temple’s films (Since Went Away and I’ll Be Seeing You) to really get the public excited about the new couple.

Maybe this would have been the way his career was to go – however .*When he was filming A Double Life (1947) , he was approached by Humphrey Bogart who must have seen him around the studio

Bogart persuaded him to take the name of John Derek and then cast him as Nick “Pretty Boy” Romano, an unrepentant killer, in Knock on Any Door (1949), a drama directed by Nicholas Ray.

Recognising him as a talented newcomer, Bogart signed Derek to a seven-year contract with Columbia Pictures.

Columbia Pictures did eventually put John Derek into leading roles, but he didn’t care for the roles that he was given.

He was cast as Robin Hood in Rogues of Sherwood Forest (released in 1950). I seem to remember him for this more tyhanj anything. It was a good film.

Just after this he was cast as the swashbuckling captain Renato Dimorna in Mask of the Avengers (1951).

Rogues of Sherwood Forest 1950

The Rogues of Sherwood Forest is set in a post-King Richard England. With his brother dead, Prince John ( George MacReady ) – now in his 50s – takes control of the throne – he hasn’t lost any of his enthusiasm for bloodshed and tyranny.

Robin, Earl of Huntington, son of the famous Robin Hood, who has also since dies we learn, rallies up some of the Merrie Men including Little John, Friar Tuck and Will Scarlet and as his father had done he gathers a new band of outlaws to oppose Prince John. 

Alan Hale costars as Little John in his final film role ( and his third outing as the stout comrade ). The lovely Diana Lynn portrays Lady Marianne.

The Merrie Men consist of Billy House as Friar Tuck, Billy Bevan as Will Scarlet, and Lester Matthews in the role of Allen-a-Dale. 

Gordon Douglas directs the film which is in beautiful Technicolor It had some stunning cinematography ( by Charles Lawton Jr. ) and beautiful matte-painted backdrops. 

I am pretty sure that the picture below from the film is a Matte Shot – with the whole of the Right Hand side including the castle and the moat a Matte. Extremely well done though, to make a stunning and convincing scene

I like this film – The Rogues of Sherwood Forest which has a very good cast, and script.

It is not up to the standard of ‘The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men’ made here in England at Denham Film Studios in the summer of 1951 – released in 1952

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