Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

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Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Mel Stuart
Produced by
Screenplay by Roald Dahl
Based on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
by Roald Dahl
Music by
Cinematography Arthur Ibbetson
Edited by David Saxon
Distributed by Paramount Pictures[a]
Release date
  • June 30, 1971 (1971-06-30) (United States)
Running time
99 minutes[1]
Country United States[2]
Language English
Budget $3 million[3]
Box office $4 million[3]

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is a 1971 American musical fantasy 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. Paramount distributed the film until 1977, and beginning in the 1980s, Warner Bros. assumed control of the rights for home entertainment purposes. The film then made an additional $21 million during its re-release by Warner Bros. under its Family Entertainment banner in 1996. 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, 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, Joe reveals that Wonka locked the factory because other candy makers, including rival Mr. 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 money in a sewer and uses it to buy a Scrumdiddlyumptious bar. With the change, he buys another Wonka Bar for Joe. Walking home, as Charlie hears people reading the newspapers; revealing that the Paraguayan millionaire's ticket is a fake, 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 Arthur Slugworth and offers a reward for a sample of Wonka's latest creation, the Everlasting Gobstopper.

Returning home with the Golden Ticket, Charlie chooses 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 river of chocolate, edible mushrooms, lickable wallpaper, 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 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 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 Chocolate Eggs Room, Veruca demands a golden goose for herself before falling into a garbage chute leading to the furnace, with her father falling in trying to rescue her. The group tests out Wonka's Wonkavision, only for Mike to teleport himself and become a few inches tall.

With Charlie and Joe remaining, Wonka says they are not getting anything because they violated the contract by stealing the Fizzy Lifting Drinks. Infuriated by this, Joe suggests to Charlie that he should give Slugworth the Gobstopper in revenge, but Charlie returns the candy back to Wonka. With this selfless act, Wonka declares Charlie as the winner. He reveals that Slugworth is actually Mr. Wilkinson, a fellow employee of Wonka, and the offer to buy the Gobstopper was a morality test which 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, Ursula Reit, Gene Wilder
Front row (left to right): Leonard Stone, Denise Nickerson, Roy Kinnear, Julie Dawn Cole, Dodo Denny, Paris Themmen, Peter Ostrum, Jack Albertson

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]

It was agreed that the film would be a children's musical, and that Dahl himself would write the screenplay.[7] However, the title was changed 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 magazine 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, which was only a set constructed for the film, was filmed at Quellenstraße in Munich, Bavaria. 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]

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]


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] It received positive reviews from critics such as Roger Ebert who gave the film a four out of four stars, while comparing it to The Wizard of Oz. Ebert said, "All of this is preface to a simple statement: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is 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]

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[21] for the "scary tunnel" scene.

As of 2017, the film holds a 91% "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes with an average rating of 7.7/10 based on 42 reviews. The site's critical consensus states: "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is strange yet comforting, full of narrative detours that don't always work but express the film's uniqueness".[22]

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.[23] 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 movie 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.[24] 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?"[23]


The film made its television debut on November 23, 1975, on NBC. There was some controversy with the showing as the Oakland Raiders vs Washington Redskins (26–23) football game went into overtime, and the first 40 minutes of the movie were cut.[25] The film placed 19th in the TV Ratings for the week ending Nov 23, beating out The Streets of San Francisco and Little House on the Prairie.[26] The next TV showing of the film was on May 2, 1976,[27] where it placed 46th in the ratings.[28] Some TV listings indicate the showing was part of the World of Disney time slot.

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".

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

  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 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. ^ Because Paramount Pictures decided not to renew distribution rights, the film rights were transferred to Warner Bros. in 1977, when Wolper Pictures, Ltd. was bought by the company and Quaker Oats sold its share of the film


  1. ^ "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (U)". British Board of Film Classification. August 20, 1971. Retrieved August 9, 2015. 
  2. ^ "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971)". 
  3. ^ a b "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) - Financial Information". The-numbers.com. Retrieved February 15, 2017. 
  4. ^ "Why Roald Dahl Hated The Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory Film". yahoo. Retrieved September 12, 2016. 
  5. ^ Liz Buckingham, trustee for the Roald Dahl Museum, quoted in Tom Bishop: "Willy Wonka's Everlasting Film Plot", BBC News, July 2005
  6. ^ "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. 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. Retrieved December 2, 2006. 
  8. ^ a b Paur, Joey. "25 Fun Facts About Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory". Retrieved July 8, 2015. 
  9. ^ a b c Honeybone, Nigel (April 25, 2012). "Film Review: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)". Retrieved July 8, 2015. 
  10. ^ Segal, David (March 28, 2005). "Gene Wilder: It Hurts to Laugh". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 8, 2015. 
  11. ^ Evans, Bradford (January 31, 2013). "The Lost Roles of Peter Sellers". Splitsider. Retrieved July 11, 2015. 
  12. ^ a b Perkins, Will. "Gene Wilder's Willy Wonka Demands Revealed". Yahoo.com. Yahoo. Retrieved 18 September 2015. 
  13. ^ "Jean Stapleton Dies: Top 10 Facts You Need to Know". Heavy.com. June 1, 2013. Retrieved July 13, 2015. 
  14. ^ Chandler, Ed (June 3, 2013). "Five Things You Should Know About Jean Stapleton". Retrieved July 13, 2015. 
  15. ^ a b "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971): Notes". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved July 13, 2015. 
  16. ^ "ParisThemmenAMA comments on I am Paris Themmen. I played Mike Teevee in the original Willy Wonka. AMA!". Reddit.com. September 2, 2014. Retrieved May 4, 2015. 
  17. ^ Stuart, Mel; Young, Josh (November 1, 2001). Pure Imagination: The Making of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-0312287771. 
  18. ^ robatsea2009 (December 19, 2011). "Willy Wonka Candy Factory 1971 TV commercial" – via YouTube. 
  19. ^ "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory: Box Office Data, DVD and Blu-ray Sales, Movie News, Cast and Crew Information". The-numbers.com. Retrieved May 4, 2015. 
  20. ^ Ebert, Roger (January 1, 1971). "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory". RogerEbert.com. Ebert Digital LLC. Retrieved September 27, 2017. 
  21. ^ "Bravo's 'The 100 Scariest Movie Moments'". Archived from the original on August 1, 2007. 
  22. ^ Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory at Rotten Tomatoes
  23. ^ a b Bishop, Tom (July 11, 2005). "Willy Wonka's Everlasting Film Plot". BBC News. Retrieved January 29, 2014. 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. "For him the book was about Charlie. 
  24. ^ Pure Imagination: The Story of "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory". Two Dog Productions Inc. 2001. 
  25. ^ "Raiders, NBC 0–2 in N.Y.; First Heidi, Now Willy Wonka". Los Angeles Times. November 24, 1975. p. C2. 
  26. ^ "4 Movies Shake Up Week's Nielsen List". Los Angeles Times. November 26, 1975. p. 15. 
  27. ^ "TV Guide Listings". Los Angeles Times. May 2, 1976. p. 10. 
  28. ^ Williams, Ken (May 11, 1976). "Among Other Things". Journal-News. Hamilton, OH. p. 7. 
  29. ^ "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971)". Dvdmg.com. Retrieved May 4, 2015. 
  30. ^ "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory: 30th Anniversary Edition (1971)". Dvdmg.com. Retrieved May 4, 2015. 
  31. ^ "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (HD DVD) - IGN". Dvd.ign.com. June 6, 2007. Retrieved May 4, 2015. 
  32. ^ "News: Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (US-BD)". DVDActive.com. Retrieved May 4, 2015. 
  33. ^ Cook, Tommy (November 1, 2011). "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory 40th Anniversary Box Set Blu-ray Review". Collider.com. Retrieved May 4, 2015. 

External links[edit]