An absolutely endearing musical about America’s heartland Director Morton DaCosta spent most of his career acting and directing on the New York stage, doing only two other movies. This one – his version of the Broadway hit – is as charming a screen musical as you are likely to see. It’s great fun and a treat for all ages. Robert Preston stars as Professor Harold Hill, an alias the character uses as a traveling salesman and small-time hustler of band uniforms and instruments. Hill’s trade brings him to the little town of River City, Iowa, where he meets his comeuppance but also finds love and happiness. And as Hill, Preston reprises to perfection the Tony Award-winning role he played for several years on Broadway. But the real stars are composer Meredith Willson’s songs. They’re wonderful, including the sweet ballad “Goodnight, My Someone,” the gorgeous “Till There Was You,” and the grand finale “76 Trombones,” which gives the cast a rousing curtain call. Some of the…
One of the greatest movie musicals ever! An amazing thing happened when I first saw The Music Man in its first run in the summer of ’62. I won’t be giving away any plot points to say that the end credits are handled by showing the actors alone or in groups, in costume, above or below their names. Instead of just sitting there, the audience responded as if they were at a live stage version when the various actors come out at the end, wildly applauding each group until they were cheering for Shirley Jones and Robert Preston. That’s the kind of enthusiastic response this movie usually creates in people. The Music Man is one of the very best film versions of a stage musical, in this case, opened up in a (seemingly) real town, an improvement over any stage version I’ve ever seen. The look of the sets is perfect for Meredith Willson’s fond recollection of his boyhood in Mason City, Iowa. The score he wrote for it is one of the most accomplished, loved and well-known. The acting from everyone involved is really good, though being a…
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