Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

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Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMel Stuart
Produced by
Screenplay by
Based onCharlie and the Chocolate Factory
by Roald Dahl
Music by
CinematographyArthur Ibbetson
Edited byDavid Saxon
Distributed byParamount Pictures[a]
Release date
  • June 30, 1971 (1971-06-30) (United States)
Running time
99 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States[2]
Budget$3 million[3]
Box office$4 million[3]

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is a 1971 American musical fantasy family film directed by Mel Stuart, and starring Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka. It is an adaptation of the 1964 novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. Dahl was credited with writing the film's screenplay; however, David Seltzer, who went uncredited in the film, was brought in to re-work the screenplay against Dahl's wishes, making major changes to the ending and adding musical numbers. These changes and other decisions made by the director led Dahl to disown the film.[4][5]

The film tells the story of Charlie Bucket (Peter Ostrum) as he receives a Golden Ticket and visits Willy Wonka's chocolate factory with four other children from around the world. Filming took place in Munich in 1970, and the film was released by Paramount Pictures on June 30, 1971. With a budget of just $3 million, the film received generally positive reviews and earned $4 million by the end of its original run. The film became highly popular in part through repeated television airings and home entertainment sales.[6] In 1972, the film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Score, and Wilder was nominated for a Golden Globe as Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy, but lost both to Fiddler on the Roof. The film also introduced the song "The Candy Man", which went on to become a popular hit when recorded by Sammy Davis Jr. In 2014, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".


In a small town in 1970, Charlie Bucket, a poor paperboy, watches a group of children visit a candy shop. Walking home, he passes Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. A mysterious tinker recites the first lines of William Allingham's poem "The Fairies", and tells Charlie, "Nobody ever goes in, and nobody ever comes out." Charlie rushes home to his widowed mother and bedridden grandparents. After telling Grandpa Joe about the tinker, he reveals that Wonka locked the factory because other candy makers, including rival Arthur Slugworth, sent in spies to steal his recipes. Wonka disappeared, but after three years resumed selling candy; the origin of Wonka's labor force is unknown.

The next day, Wonka announces that he hid five "Golden Tickets" in chocolate Wonka Bars. Finders of the tickets will receive a factory tour and a lifetime supply of chocolate. The first four tickets are found by the gluttonous Augustus Gloop, the spoiled Veruca Salt, the gum-chewing Violet Beauregarde, and the television-obsessed Mike Teevee. As each winner is announced on TV, a man whispers to them. Charlie opens two Wonka Bars but finds no Golden Ticket. The newspapers announce the fifth ticket was found by a millionaire in Paraguay causing Charlie to lose hope. The next day, Charlie finds some money in a gutter in the street and uses it to buy a Scrumdiddlyumptious bar. With the change, he buys another Wonka Bar for Grandpa Joe. Walking home, as Charlie hears people reading the newspapers; revealing that the Paraguayan millionaire's ticket is a fake one, he opens the Wonka Bar and finds the fifth golden ticket. While rushing home, he encounters the same man seen whispering to the other winners, who introduces himself as Slugworth and offers a reward for a sample of Wonka's latest creation, the Everlasting Gobstopper.

Returning home with the Golden Ticket, Charlie chooses Grandpa Joe as his chaperone. The next day, Wonka greets the ticket winners and leads them inside where each signs a contract before the tour. The factory includes a candy land with a river of chocolate, edible mushrooms, gummy bears, candy canes, and other sweets and inventions. As the visitors sample these, they see Wonka's workers, small men known as Oompa-Loompas. Augustus falls into the chocolate river and is sucked up in a pipe to the Fudge Room. In the Inventing Room, everyone receives an Everlasting Gobstopper. Violet becomes a large blueberry after chewing an experimental gum containing a three-course meal, over Wonka's warnings. The group reaches the Fizzy Lifting Drinks Room, where Charlie and Grandpa Joe ignore Wonka's warning and sample the drinks. They float and have a near-fatal encounter with an exhaust fan before burping back to the ground. In the Golden Eggs Room, Veruca demands a golden goose for herself before falling into a garbage chute which leads to the furnace, with her father falling in trying to rescue her. The group tests out Wonka's Wonkavision, used to teleport chocolate bars and Mike also teleports himself and becomes only a few inches tall.

Right now, there's only Charlie and Grandpa Joe remaining, they assumed that they have won the lifetime supply of chocolate. But they get reprimanded by Wonka who reveals that they are not getting anything because they violated the contract by stealing the Fizzy Lifting Drinks. Infuriated, Grandpa Joe suggests to Charlie that he should give Slugworth the Gobstopper in revenge, but Charlie returns the candy to Wonka. With this selfless act, Wonka declares Charlie as the winner. He reveals that Slugworth is actually Mr. Wilkinson, an employee of Wonka, and the offer to buy the Gobstopper was a morality test that only Charlie passed. The trio enter the "Wonkavator", a multi-directional glass elevator that flies out of the factory. Soaring over the city, Wonka reveals that his actual prize is the factory; Wonka created the contest to find an heir worthy enough, and so Charlie and his family can immediately move in. Wonka then reminds Charlie not to forget about the man who suddenly received everything he ever wanted. Charlie asks, "What happened?" to which Wonka replies, "He lived happily ever after."


The main cast.
Back row (left to right): Michael Bollner (Augustus Gloop), Ursula Reit (Mrs. Gloop), Gene Wilder (Willy Wonka)
Front row (left to right): Leonard Stone (Sam Beauregard), Denise Nickerson (Violet Beauregard), Roy Kinnear (Henry Salt), Julie Dawn Cole (Veruca Salt), Dodo Denny (Mrs. Teevee), Paris Themmen (Mike Teevee), Peter Ostrum (Charlie Bucket), Jack Albertson (Grandpa Joe)

Oompa Loompas[edit]



The idea for adapting the book into a film came about when director Mel Stuart's ten-year-old daughter read the book and asked her father to make a film out of it, with "Uncle Dave" (producer David L. Wolper) producing it. Stuart showed the book to Wolper, who happened to be in the midst of talks with the Quaker Oats Company regarding a vehicle to introduce a new candy bar from its Chicago-based Breaker Confections subsidiary (since renamed the Willy Wonka Candy Company and sold to Nestlé). Wolper persuaded the company, which had no previous experience in the film industry, to buy the rights to the book and finance the picture for the purpose of promoting a new Quaker Oats Wonka Bar.[7]

David L. Wolper and Roald Dahl agreed that the film would be a children's musical, and that Dahl himself would write the screenplay.[7] However, Wolper changed the title to Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Screenwriter David Seltzer conceived a gimmick exclusively for the film that had Wonka quoting numerous literary sources, such as Arthur O'Shaughnessy's Ode, Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, Samuel Taylor Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice. Seltzer also worked Slugworth (only mentioned as a rival candy maker in the book) into the plot as an actual character (only to be revealed to be Wilkinson, one of Wonka's agents, at the end of the film).[7]


All six members of Monty Python: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones and Michael Palin, expressed interest in playing Wonka, but at the time they were deemed not big enough names for an international audience. Three of the members, Cleese, Idle and Palin, were later seriously considered for the same role in Tim Burton's version.[8][9]

Before Wilder was officially cast for the role, producers considered Fred Astaire, Joel Grey, Ron Moody and Jon Pertwee.[9][10] Spike Milligan was Roald Dahl's original choice to play Willy Wonka.[9] Peter Sellers even begged Dahl for the role.[11]

When Wilder was cast for the role, he accepted it on one condition:

When I make my first entrance, I'd like to come out of the door carrying a cane and then walk toward the crowd with a limp. After the crowd sees Willy Wonka is a cripple, they all whisper to themselves and then become deathly quiet. As I walk toward them, my cane sinks into one of the cobblestones I'm walking on and stands straight up, by itself; but I keep on walking, until I realize that I no longer have my cane. I start to fall forward, and just before I hit the ground, I do a beautiful forward somersault and bounce back up, to great applause.

— Gene Wilder[12]

The reason why Wilder wanted this in the film was that "from that time on, no one will know if I'm lying or telling the truth."[12]

Jean Stapleton turned down the role of Mrs. Teevee.[13][14] Jim Backus was considered for the role of Sam Beauregarde.[15] Sammy Davis Jr. wanted to play Bill, the candy store owner, but Stuart did not like the idea because he felt that the presence of a big star in the candy store scene would break the reality.[8] Nevertheless, Davis' recording of the film's opening musical number, "The Candy Man," would top the Billboard record charts in 1972, despite the fact that Davis initially hated the song. Anthony Newley also wanted to play Bill, but Stuart also objected to this for the same reason.[15]


Principal photography commenced on August 31, 1970, and ended on November 19, 1970. The primary shooting location was Munich, Bavaria, West Germany, because it was significantly cheaper than filming in the United States and the setting was conducive to Wonka's factory; Stuart also liked the ambiguity and unfamiliarity of the location. External shots of the factory were filmed at the gasworks of Stadtwerke München (Emmy-Noether-Straße 10); the entrance and side buildings still exist. The exterior of Charlie Bucket's house, a set constructed solely for the film, was filmed at Quellenstraße in Munich. Charlie's school was filmed at Katholisches Pfarramt St. Sylvester, Biedersteiner Straße 1 in Munich. Bill's Candy Shop was filmed at Lilienstraße, Munich. The closing sequence when the Wonkavator is flying above the factory is footage of Nördlingen in Bavaria.

Production designer Harper Goff centered the factory on the massive Chocolate Room. According to Paris Themmen, who played Mike Teevee, "The river was made of water with food coloring. At one point, they poured some cocoa powder into it to try to thicken it but it didn't really work. When asked this question, Michael Böllner, who played Augustus Gloop, answers, 'It vas dirty, stinking vater.'"[16]

In addition to the main scenes set in town and at the factory, several comic interludes were also shot. Uncredited screenwriter Robert Kaufman wrote several short humorous scenes related to the Wonka Bar hysteria.

When interviewed for the 30th anniversary special edition, Gene Wilder stated that he enjoyed working with most of the child actors, but said that he and the crew had some problems with Paris Themmen, claiming that he was "a handful".[17][not in citation given]


Before its release, the film received advance publicity though TV commercials offering a "Willy Wonka candy factory kit" for sending $1.00 and two seals from boxes of Quaker cereals such as King Vitaman, Life and any of the Cap'n Crunch brands.[18]


Willy Wonka was released on June 30, 1971. The film was not a big success, being the 53rd highest-grossing film of the year in the U.S., earning just over $2.1 million on its opening weekend.[19] Roger Ebert gave the film a perfect four out of four stars, calling it "probably the best film of its sort since The Wizard of Oz. It is everything that family movies usually claim to be, but aren't: Delightful, funny, scary, exciting, and, most of all, a genuine work of imagination. 'Willy Wonka' is such a surely and wonderfully spun fantasy that it works on all kinds of minds, and it is fascinating because, like all classic fantasy, it is fascinated with itself."[20] Charles Champlin of the Los Angeles Times praised the film as "lively and enjoyable" and called Wilder's performance "a real star turn," but thought the songs were "instantly forgettable" and that the factory looked "a lot more literal and industrial and less empathic than it might have."[21] Variety called the film "an okay family musical fantasy" that had "good" performances but lacked any tunes that were "especially rousing or memorable."[22] Howard Thompson of The New York Times panned it as "tedious and stagy with little sparkle and precious little humor."[23] Gene Siskel gave the film two stars out of four, writing, "Anticipation of what Wonka's factory is like is so well developed that its eventual appearance is a terrible letdown. Sure enough there is a chocolate river, but it looks too much like the Chicago River to be appealing. The quality of the color photography is flat. The other items in Wonka's factory — bubblegum trees and lollypop flowers — also look cheap. Nothing in the factory is appealing."[24] Jan Dawson of The Monthly Film Bulletin wrote that after a slow start the second half of the film was "an unqualified delight—one of those rare, genuinely imaginative children's entertainments at which no adult need be embarrassed to be seen."[25]

By the mid-1980s, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory had experienced a spike in popularity thanks in large part to repeated television broadcasts and home video sales. Following a 25th anniversary theatrical re-release in 1996, it was released on DVD the next year, allowing it to reach a new generation of viewers. The film was released as a remastered special edition on DVD and VHS in 2001 to commemorate the film's 30th anniversary. In 2003, Entertainment Weekly ranked it 25th in the "Top 50 Cult Movies" of all time.

Willy Wonka was ranked No. 74 on Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments for the "scary tunnel" scene.[26]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 91% approval rating and an average rating of 7.8/10 based on 46 reviews. The site's critical consensus states: "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is strange yet comforting, full of narrative detours that don't always work but express the film's uniqueness."[27]

Dahl's reaction[edit]

Dahl disowned the film, the script of which was partially rewritten by David Seltzer after Dahl failed to meet deadlines. Dahl said he was "disappointed" because "he thought it placed too much emphasis on Willy Wonka and not enough on Charlie", as well as the casting of Gene Wilder instead of Spike Milligan.[4] Dahl was also "infuriated" by the deviations in the plot Seltzer devised in his draft of the screenplay, including the conversion of Slugworth, a minor character in the book, into a spy (so that the film could have a villain) and the "fizzy lifting drinks" scene along with music other than the original Oompa Loompa compositions (including "Pure Imagination" and "The Candy Man"), and the ending dialogue for the movie.[28] In 1996, Dahl's second wife, Felicity, commented on her husband's objections towards the film saying "they always want to change a book's storyline. What makes Hollywood think children want the endings changed for a film, when they accept it in a book?"[4]

Animated adaptation[edit]

In 2017, an animated adaptation of the film with Tom and Jerry was released. Tom and Jerry: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory stars JP Karliak as Willy Wonka and is dedicated to Gene Wilder, who died less than a year before the release.

Home media[edit]

The film was first released on DVD in 1997/1999 in a "25th anniversary edition"[29] as a double sided disc containing a widescreen and "standard" version. The "standard" version is an open matte print, where the mattes used to make the image widescreen are removed, revealing information originally intended to be hidden from viewers.[30] VHS and Betamax copies were also available, but only containing the "standard" version.

A special edition DVD was released, celebrating the film's 30th anniversary, on August 28, 2001, but in fullscreen only. Due to the lack of a letterboxed release, fan petitioning eventually led Warner Home Video to issue a widescreen version on November 13, 2001. It was also released on VHS, with only one of the special features (a making-of feature). Several original cast members reunited to film documentary footage for this special edition DVD release. The two editions featured restored sound, and better picture quality. In addition to the documentary, the DVD included a trailer, a gallery, and audio commentary by the cast.

In 2007, Warner Home Video released the film on HD DVD with all the bonus features from the 2001 DVD.[31] The film was released on Blu-ray on October 20, 2009.[32] It includes all the bonus features from the 2001 DVD and 2007 HD-DVD as well as a 38-page book.

In 2011, a new deluxe-40th-anniversary edition Blu-ray/DVD set was released on November 1, consisting of the film on Blu-ray Disc and DVD as well as a bonus features disc. The set also included a variety of rarities such as a Wonka Bar-designed tin, four scented pencils, a scented eraser, a book detailing the making of the film, original production papers and a Golden Ticket to win a trip to Los Angeles. The set is now out of print.[33]


The Academy Award-nominated original score and songs were composed by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley, and musical direction was by Walter Scharf. The soundtrack was first released by Paramount Records in 1971. On October 8, 1996, Hip-O Records (in conjunction with MCA Records, which by then owned the Paramount catalog), released the soundtrack on CD as a "25th Anniversary Edition". In 2016, UMe and Geffen Records released a 45th Anniversary Edition LP.

The music and songs, in order of appearance, are as follows:

  1. "Main Title" – Instrumental medley of "(I've Got A) Golden Ticket" and "Pure Imagination"
  2. "The Candy Man" – Aubrey Woods
  3. "Cheer Up, Charlie" – Diana Lee (dubbing over Diana Sowle)
  4. "(I've Got A) Golden Ticket" – Jack Albertson and Peter Ostrum
  5. "Pure Imagination" – Gene Wilder
  6. "Oompa Loompa (Augustus)" – The Oompa Loompas
  7. "The Wondrous Boat Ride"/"The Rowing Song" – Gene Wilder
  8. "Oompa Loompa (Violet)" – The Oompa Loompas
  9. "I Want it Now!" – Julie Dawn Cole
  10. "Oompa Loompa (Veruca)" – The Oompa Loompas
  11. "Ach, so fromm" (alternately titled "M'appari", from Martha) – Gene Wilder
  12. "Oompa Loompa (Mike)" – The Oompa Loompas
  13. "End Credits" – "Pure Imagination"


The track listing for the soundtrack, originally released on MCA Records, is as follows:

  1. "Main Title" ("Golden Ticket"/"Pure Imagination")
  2. "The Candy Man"
  3. "Charlie's Paper Run"
  4. "Cheer up, Charlie"
  5. "Lucky Charlie"
  6. "(I've Got A) Golden Ticket"
  7. "Pure Imagination"
  8. "Oompa Loompa"
  9. "The Wondrous Boat Ride"
  10. "Everlasting Gobstoppers/Oompa Loompa"
  11. "The Bubble Machine"
  12. "I Want it Now/Oompa Loompa"
  13. "Wonkamobile, Wonkavision/Oompa Loompa"
  14. "Wonkavator/End Title" ("Pure Imagination")

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The film rights transferred to Warner Bros. in 1977, when that company purchased Wolper Pictures Ltd. and Quaker Oats sold its share of the film.


  1. ^ "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory". British Board of Film Classification. August 20, 1971. Archived from the original on May 12, 2016. Retrieved August 9, 2015.
  2. ^ "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971)". British Film Institute. Archived from the original on September 27, 2016. Retrieved September 21, 2016.
  3. ^ a b "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) - Financial Information". The-numbers.com. Archived from the original on September 9, 2016. Retrieved February 15, 2017.
  4. ^ a b c Falky, Ben (September 12, 2016). "Why Roald Dahl Hated The Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory Film". Yahoo! Movies. Archived from the original on September 13, 2018. Retrieved September 30, 2018.
  5. ^ "Willy Wonka's Everlasting Film Plot". BBC News. July 11, 2005. Archived from the original on December 5, 2010. Retrieved March 7, 2010. "He thought it placed too much emphasis on Willy Wonka and not enough on Charlie," said Liz Attenborough, trustee of the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre in Buckinghamshire.
  6. ^ "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Archived from the original on August 8, 2016. Retrieved August 30, 2016.
  7. ^ a b c J.M. Kenny (Writer, Director, Producer) (2001). Pure Imagination: The Story of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (DVD). USA: Warner Home Video. Archived from the original on December 8, 2006. Retrieved December 2, 2006.
  8. ^ a b Paur, Joey. "25 Fun Facts About Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory". GeekTyrant. Archived from the original on July 12, 2015. Retrieved September 30, 2018.
  9. ^ a b c Honeybone, Nigel (April 25, 2012). "Film Review: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)". HorrorNews.net. Archived from the original on July 9, 2015. Retrieved July 8, 2015.
  10. ^ Segal, David (March 28, 2005). "Gene Wilder: It Hurts to Laugh". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on September 8, 2016. Retrieved July 8, 2015.
  11. ^ Evans, Bradford (January 31, 2013). "The Lost Roles of Peter Sellers". Splitsider. Archived from the original on July 14, 2015. Retrieved July 11, 2015.
  12. ^ a b Perkins, Will. "Gene Wilder's Willy Wonka Demands Revealed". Yahoo! Entertainment. Archived from the original on September 18, 2015. Retrieved September 18, 2015.
  13. ^ "Jean Stapleton Dies: Top 10 Facts You Need to Know". Heavy.com. June 1, 2013. Archived from the original on July 13, 2015. Retrieved July 13, 2015.
  14. ^ Chandler, Ed (June 3, 2013). "Five Things You Should Know About Jean Stapleton". KBKL News. Archived from the original on July 13, 2015. Retrieved September 30, 2018.
  15. ^ a b "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971): Notes". Turner Classic Movies. Archived from the original on July 13, 2015. Retrieved July 13, 2015.
  16. ^ "I am Paris Themmen. I played Mike Teevee in the original Willy Wonka. AMA!". Reddit. September 2, 2014. Archived from the original on October 28, 2014. Retrieved May 4, 2015.
  17. ^ Stuart, Mel; Young, Josh (2005). Pure Imagination: The Making of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. St. Martin's Press. pp. 85-ff. ISBN 978-0312352400.
  18. ^ "Willy Wonka Candy Factory 1971 TV commercial". YouTube. December 19, 2011. Archived from the original on March 10, 2016. Retrieved October 3, 2015.
  19. ^ "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory: Box Office Data, DVD and Blu-ray Sales, Movie News, Cast and Crew Information". The-numbers.com. Archived from the original on November 9, 2013. Retrieved May 4, 2015.
  20. ^ Ebert, Roger (January 1, 1971). "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on September 9, 2016. Retrieved September 27, 2017.
  21. ^ Champlin, Charles (July 28, 1971). "'Wonka' Fare for Families". Los Angeles Times. Part IV, p. 1, 10.
  22. ^ "Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory". Variety: 13. May 26, 1971.
  23. ^ Thompson, Howard (July 1, 1971). "Chocolate Factory". The New York Times: 61.
  24. ^ Siskel, Gene (July 18, 1971). "There's Gold in Willy Wonka Chocolate Bars". Chicago Tribune. Section 5, p. 1.
  25. ^ Dawson, Jan (December 1971). "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory". The Monthly Film Bulletin. 38 (455): 253.
  26. ^ "Bravo's 'The 100 Scariest Movie Moments'". Archived from the original on August 1, 2007.
  27. ^ "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved December 6, 2018.
  28. ^ Pure Imagination: The Story of "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory". Two Dog Productions Inc. 2001.
  29. ^ "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971)". Dvdmg.com. Archived from the original on September 23, 2015. Retrieved May 4, 2015.
  30. ^ "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory: 30th Anniversary Edition (1971)". Dvdmg.com. Archived from the original on December 24, 2014. Retrieved May 4, 2015.
  31. ^ Conrad, Jeremy; White, Cinty (June 6, 2007). "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (HD DVD)". IGN. Archived from the original on March 27, 2010. Retrieved September 30, 2018.
  32. ^ "News: Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory". DVDActive.com. Archived from the original on May 6, 2015. Retrieved May 4, 2015.
  33. ^ Cook, Tommy (November 1, 2011). "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory 40th Anniversary Box Set Blu-ray Review". Collider. Archived from the original on November 3, 2013. Retrieved May 4, 2015.

External links[edit]