The Music Man (1962 film)
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|The Music Man|
Theatrical release poster by Bill Gold
|Directed by||Morton DaCosta|
|Produced by||Morton DaCosta|
|Screenplay by||Marion Hargrove|
|Based on||The Music Man|
by Meredith Willson
|Music by||Meredith Willson (music and lyrics)|
Ray Heindorf (music score)
|Edited by||William H. Ziegler|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Box office||$15 million|
The Music Man is a 1962 American musical film directed by Morton DaCosta and based on the 1957 Broadway musical of the same name by Meredith Willson, which DaCosta also directed. Robert Preston reprises his role as Harold Hill from the musical, starring alongside Shirley Jones, Buddy Hackett, Hermione Gingold, and Paul Ford. Released on June 19, 1962, the film was one of the biggest hits of the year and was highly acclaimed critically.
The film opens in July 1912, with a traveling salesman being chased onto a train just about to depart. As the train gets underway, the salesmen on the train get into a rhythmic conversation about credit that veers off to discussion of the con man 'Professor' Harold Hill . After the train arrives in River City, Iowa, 'Professor' Harold Hill reveals himself to the others on the train before getting off, ready to swindle the famously stubborn citizens. Masquerading as a band instructor, Hill plans to con the townspeople into paying him to create a boys' marching band. Once he has collected their payment and the instruments and uniforms have arrived, he will hop the next train out of town, leaving them without their money or a band.
With his associate Marcellus Washburn, Hill incites concern among River City’s parents that their boys are being seduced into sin and vice by the town’s new pool table. He convinces them that a marching band is the only way to keep the boys out of trouble, and begins collecting their money. Anticipating that Marian Paroo, the town's librarian and piano instructor, will attempt to discredit him, Hill sets out to seduce her into silence. Also in opposition to Hill is the town's Mayor Shinn , owner of the billiard parlor, who orders the school board to obtain Hill's credentials. When they attempt to do so, Hill avoids their questions by teaching them to sing as a barbershop quartet via "sustained talking". Thereafter, Hill easily tricks them into breaking into song whenever they ask for his credentials.
Hill’s wooing of Marian, who has an extreme distrust of men, has little effect, though he succeeds in winning the admiration of her mother Widow Paroo and attempts to befriend her unhappy younger brother, Winthrop. When Marian discovers that Hill's claim to being a graduate of "Gary Conservatory, Gold Medal, Class of '05" is a lie (Gary was founded in 1906), she attempts to expose him, but is interrupted by the arrival of the Wells Fargo wagon. When Winthrop, after years of moody withdrawal, joins in the townspeople's singing and speaks effusively about his new cornet, Marian begins to fall in love with Hill and hides the evidence of his deceit from Mayor Shinn. Hill tells the boys to learn to play via the "Think System", in which they simply have to think of a tune over and over and will know how to play it without ever touching their instruments.
Hill's con is nearly complete; all he has to do is collect the rest of the money and disappear. Meeting Marian at the footbridge – the first time she has ever been there with a man – he learns that she knew of his deception but did not tell because she is in love with him. He is about to leave town when Charlie Cowell, a disgruntled anvil salesman who was run out of Brighton, Illinois because Hill had conned the townspeople there, comes to River City and exposes Hill. Sought by an angry mob and pressed to leave town by Marcellus and Marian, Hill realizes he is in love with Marian and cannot leave.
Hill is captured by the mob and brought before a town meeting to be tarred and feathered. Marian defends Hill, and the townspeople, reminded of how he has brought so many of them together, elect not to have him tarred and feathered. Mayor Shinn reminds the townspeople how much money Hill has taken, with no apparent result. When he demands to know "Where's the band?" Hill is saved by the town's boys, who play Beethoven's Minuet in G. Although their technical expertise leaves much to be desired, the boys' parents are enthralled. As the boys march out of the town hall, they are suddenly "transformed" by the townspeople's imagination into a spectacular marching band in resplendent uniforms, playing and marching with perfection, led by Hill. Hill is reunited with Marian, and all the other main characters join in during the credits.
The following members of the original Broadway cast who appear in the film are Robert Preston (Harold Hill), Pert Kelton (Mrs. Paroo), The Buffalo Bills (The School Board), Peggy Mondo (Ethel Toffelmier), and Adina Rice (Alma Hix). Paul Ford (Mayor Shinn) was a replacement during the original run. Susan Luckey (Zaneeta Shinn) and Harry Hickox (Charlie Cowell) both reprise their roles from the first national tour while Monique Vermont (Amaryllis) was a replacement.
Although Preston scored a great success in the original stage version of the show, he was not the first choice for the film version, mostly because he was not a major box office star. Jack L. Warner was notorious for wanting to film stage musicals with bigger stars than the ones who played the roles onstage. Bing Crosby was offered the role of Harold Hill, but turned it down. Warner also offered the part to Cary Grant, but he declined, saying "nobody could do that role as well as Bob Preston". Grant also reportedly told Warner that he would not bother to see the film unless Preston was in it. Warner wanted Frank Sinatra for the role of Professor Hill, but Meredith Willson insisted upon Preston.
- Robert Preston as Harold Hill
- Shirley Jones as Marian Paroo
- Buddy Hackett as Marcellus Washburn
- Hermione Gingold as Eulalie Mackechnie Shinn
- Paul Ford as Mayor George Shinn
- Pert Kelton as Mrs. Paroo
- The Buffalo Bills (Vern Reed, Al Shea, Wayne "Scotty" Ward, Bill Spangenberg) as The School Board
- Timmy Everett as Tommy Djilas
- Susan Luckey as Zaneeta Shinn
- Ronny Howard as Winthrop Paroo
- Harry Hickox as Charlie Cowell (anvil salesman)
- Charles Lane as Constable Locke
- Mary Wickes as Mrs. Squires (Pick-a-little Ladies)
- Peggy Mondo as Ethel Toffelmier (Pick-a-little Ladies)
- Sara Seegar as Mrs. Maud Dunlop (Pick-a-little Ladies)
- Adnia Rice as Alma Hix (Pick-a-little Ladies)
- Jesslyn Fax as Avis Grubb
- Monique Vermont as Amaryllis
- Ronnie Dapo as Norbert Smith (uncredited)
- Percy Helton as Train Conductor (uncredited)
- Max Showalter as Salesman on the Train (uncredited)
- "Main Title/Rock Island" – Orchestra, The Traveling Salesmen
- "Iowa Stubborn" – The Ensemble
- "Ya Got Trouble" – Robert Preston, The Ensemble
- "Piano Lesson / If You Don't Mind My Saying So" – Shirley Jones, Pert Kelton
- "Goodnight, My Someone" – Shirley Jones
- "Ya Got Trouble/Seventy-Six Trombones" – Robert Preston, The Ensemble
- "Sincere" – Buffalo Bills
- "The Sadder But Wiser Girl" – Robert Preston
- "Pick-a-Little, Talk-a-Little" – Hermione Gingold, Mary Wickes, Peggy Mondo, Sara Seegar, Adnia Rice
- "Marian The Librarian" – Robert Preston
- "Being in Love" – Shirley Jones
- "Gary, Indiana" – Robert Preston, Pert Kelton
- "The Wells Fargo Wagon" – The Ensemble
- "Lida Rose/Will I Ever Tell You?" – Shirley Jones, The Buffalo Bills
- "Gary, Indiana" (Reprise) – Ronny Howard, Pert Kelton, Shirley Jones
- "Shipoopi" – Buddy Hackett, The Ensemble
- "Till There Was You" – Shirley Jones
- "It's You" – Buffalo Bills (does not appear on soundtrack album)
- "Goodnight, My Someone" (Reprise) – Shirley Jones, Robert Preston
- "Seventy-Six Trombones" (Reprise & Finale) – The Ensemble
During the recording of the soundtrack musical numbers in late 1961 and early 1962 to which the cast would later lip-sync on the soundstage, some sessions included work on The Chicken Fat Song, a.k.a. President Kennedy's Youth Fitness Song, performed by Robert Preston.
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Unusual for a musical film at the time, Morton DaCosta, who had directed the stage version of the musical not only directed the film, but produced it as well, ensuring that the film was faithful to the show. In addition to Preston, the actress Pert Kelton and the Buffalo Bills also reprised their stage roles.
All of the show's songs were retained in their full versions with three exceptions: "Rock Island" was slightly edited, the middle verse of "My White Knight" was retained but the remainder of the song was replaced with "Being In Love" with new music and lyrics by Willson, and "It's You" was initially heard as incidental music and later sung by the school board in abbreviated form in the fairground scene, prior to Cowell exposing Hill as a fraud to the River City townspeople.
Several phrases were altered for the film, as the writers felt they were too obscurely Midwestern to appeal to a broader audience; the minced oath "Jeely kly!" is Tommy Djilas's catchphrase in the play, while in the film he exclaims, "Great honk!" The word "shipoopi," which has no meaning and was concocted by Willson for the original Broadway show, was left unchanged.
When Amaryllis plays "Goodnight My Someone", she is playing the keys C, G, and E on the piano, but the notes actually heard are B, F#, and D#. Marian sings the song in B major.
It is revealed that "Harold Hill" is an alias used by the salesman while in River City. Early in the film, Hill runs into an old friend and crony Marcellus where the latter now works in the livery stable. Marcellus recognizes him and calls him by his real name, "Gregory."
Shirley Jones was pregnant while the film was in production. When she and Robert Preston embraced during the footbridge scene, the fetus—who would be born on January 4 and would be named Patrick Cassidy—kicked Preston. The costume designers had to adjust her dresses several times to conceal her pregnancy.
For the final parade scene, Jack L. Warner selected the University of Southern California's marching band, the Spirit of Troy. Many junior high school students from Southern California were also included, forming the majority of the band. It took approximately eight hours of shooting over two days to film the scene. All the musical instruments for the production were specially made for the film by the Olds Instrument Company in Fullerton, California. The instruments were then refurbished and sold by Olds with no indication they were ever used in the film.
Bosley Crowther in The New York Times wrote "It's here, and the rich, ripe roundness of it, the lush amalgam of the many elements of successful American show business that Mr. Willson brought together on the stage, has been preserved and appropriately made rounder and richer through the magnitude of film."
The Staff Variety reviewer wrote: "Call this a triumph, perhaps a classic, of corn, smalltown nostalgia and American love of a parade...DaCosta’s use of several of the original Broadway cast players is thoroughly vindicated...But the only choice for the title role, Robert Preston, is the big proof of showmanship in the casting. Warners might have secured bigger screen names but it is impossible to imagine any of them matching Preston’s authority, backed by 883 stage performances."
Leo Charney reviewing for AllMovie wrote that the film "is among the best movie musicals, transforming Meredith Willson's Broadway hit into an energetic slice of Americana. Robert Preston's virtuoso portrayal of con man Harold Hill transfers from the stage (despite the studios' nervousness about casting no-name Preston), and the result is one of the most explosively vital performances in any movie musical."
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:
- 2004: AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs:
- 2006: AFI's Greatest Movie Musicals – Nominated
|Academy Awards||April 8, 1963||Best Musical Score (Adaptation or Treatment)||Ray Heindorf||Won|
|Best Picture||Morton DaCosta||Nominated|
|Best Costume Design (Color)||Dorothy Jeakins||Nominated|
|Best Art Direction (Color)||Paul Groesse & George James Hopkins||Nominated|
|Best Film Editing||William H. Ziegler||Nominated|
|Best Sound Recording||George Groves||Nominated|
Comic book adaptation
- The Music Man (2003 film)
- "Marge vs. the Monorail", an episode of The Simpsons which had a plotline similar to The Music Man.
- List of American films of 1962
- Box Office Information for The Music Man. The Numbers. Retrieved June 13, 2013.
- "Review: ‘The Music Man’", Variety, December 31, 1961
- " The Music Man Credits", TCM, accessed October 24, 2016
- Traubner, Richard. "The Music Man," Playbill (1988).
- Nelson, Nancy (2003). Evenings with Cary Grant: Recollections in His Own Words and by Those Who Knew Him Best. Citadel Press. p. 270. ISBN 0-8065-2412-X.
- Miller, Frank. " 'The Music Man' (1962)", TCM, accessed October 24, 2016
- "Making of" featurette included with the 1998 video release
- The Music Man listing amazon.com, retrieved March 4, 2010
- M" 'The Music Man' Original Soundtrack", AllMusic, accessed October 24, 2016
- DaCosta, Morton (Director) (2010-02-02). The Music Man (Blu-Ray) (Motion picture). United States: Warner Home Video. ISBN 1-4198-8842-0.
- Ginell, Gary (December 28, 2013). "A Visit With Shirley Jones – Part 4: Filming The Music Man". VC On Stage: Ventura County Theatre News.
- Top 20 Films of 1962 by Domestic Revenue
- Crowther, Bosley. "Screen: Preston Stars in 'Music Man':Film Version of Stage Comedy Opens Here", New York Times (mrqe.com), August 24, 1962
- Charney, Leo. "Review", AllMovie, accessed October 24, 2016
- "registry", loc.gov, accessed October 24, 2016
- "AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-13.
- "AFI's Greatest Movie Musicals Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-13.
- "The 35th Academy Awards (1963) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 2011-08-23.
- "NY Times: The Music Man". NY Times. Retrieved 2008-12-25.
- "Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences". allmovie.com. Retrieved 2016-10-24.
- Dell Movie Classic: The Music Man at the Grand Comics Database
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