The Music Man

The Music Man

Robert Preston
Director: Morton Da Costa Cast: Robert Preston
Robert Preston
, Shirley Jones
Shirley Jones
, Buddy Hackett
Buddy Hackett
Morton Da Costa

DVD (Wide Screen)

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Meredith Wilson's hit 1957 Broadway musical was transferred to the screen in larger-than-life fashion in 1962. Robert Preston repeats his legendary stage performance as fast-talking con man Harold Hill, who goes from town to town selling citizens on starting a "boy's band," then extracts money from them by ordering instruments and uniforms, with the promise that he'll teach the kids how to be musicians. Once he's collected his bankroll, Hill skips town, leaving the kids in the lurch. Looking for new suckers in Iowa, Hill arrives in River City, where he declares that the only way to save the youth of River City from the lure of the poolroom is to organize a boy's band. He charms the mayor's wife Eulalie (Hermione Gingold) into forming a "ladies' dance committee" and sets his sights on winning over local music teacher Marian Paroo (Shirley Jones). Marian rightly considers Hill a fraud, especially when he espouses the "Think System" of learning music: if you think a tune, he claims, you can play it. But Marian becomes Hill's staunchest ally when her young brother Winthrop (Ronny Howard), sullen and withdrawn since the death of his father, exuberantly comes out of his shell at the prospect of joining Hill's band; and Marian's budding romance with the charming but unreliable Hill ultimately brings her out of her own shell as well. Marion Hargrove's script uses most of the original play, with a handful of amusing expansions, especially in the roles played by Gingold and by Buddy Hackett as Hill's comic sidekick.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Donald Liebenson

Meredith Wilson’s 1957 Broadway smash The Music Man was a big, brass-band valentine to small-town America at the turn of the 20th century. And the film, which followed five years later, is among the most exuberant, old-fashioned delights from the waning days of the Hollywood musical’s golden age. Robert Preston conducts himself splendidly as Prof. Harold Hill, a traveling salesman with a scheme to form a boys' marching band and sell River City yokels the uniforms and gear. Alas, the town’s lovely librarian, Marian (Shirley Jones), smells a rat; and Hill’s efforts to charm her by drawing her awkward little brother (Ron Howard) out of his shell lead to the ersatz professor’s unlikely delivery from the dark side. The film’s impeccable cast includes Paul Ford as River City's confounded mayor, Hermione Gingold as his "Pick-a-Little, Talk-a-Little" biddy of a wife, and Buddy Hackett as Hill's former partner in crime. "76 Trombones" leads the big parade of showstoppers, including "Till There Was You," "Marian the Librarian," “Gary, Indiana," and "Trouble." Speaking of trouble right here in River City, the revealing making-of documentary included on the Special Edition DVD notes that Jones was pregnant during most of the production, necessitating various shoot-arounds. Another fun fact from the 30-minute documentary: The studio wanted Frank Sinatra for the title role, but the musical's composer, Meredith Wilson, insisted that without Preston, who made the role his own on Broadway, there would be no movie. Like the wish-fulfilling contents of "The Wells Fargo Wagon," The Music Man remains something very, very special.

All Movie Guide - Leo Charney

The Music Man 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. Until the very end, Preston never sugar-coats or softens Hill's rapacious self-seeking, nor does Shirley Jones downplay the stubborn snobbishness of his love interest, Marian Paroo. The portrayal of the River City townfolk is memorably caustic: "You can have your fill of the all the food you bring yourself!" runs only one of the snide remarks in their introductory song, which offers, "Glad to have you with us -- even though we may not ever mention it again." The film's embrace of small-town American life is not confined to its sentimental, sickly-sweet aspects (the movie's hero, after all, is a con man, whom Preston's vigorously charming performance dares us to like), and this dimensionality makes the movie as distinctive dramatically as it is musically. Preston carries the movie, but he receives memorable support from Jones, Ron Howard as her brother Winthrop, Buddy Hackett as his sidekick, and such stalwarts as Paul Ford, Hermione Gingold, and Pert Kelton among the River City townspeople. The underrated score includes "Till There Was You," later covered by The Beatles and often mistaken for one of their songs. Made at the acme (yet last gasp) of the blockbuster movie musical in the first half of the 1960s, The Music Man can hold its own among such better-known contemporaries as West Side Story (1961), My Fair Lady (1964), and The Sound of Music (1965).

Product Details

Release Date: 10/05/2011
UPC: 0883929152599
Original Release: 1962
Rating: G
Source: Warner Home Video
Region Code: 1
Presentation: [Wide Screen]
Sound: [Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround]
Time: 2:31:00
Sales rank: 59

Customer Reviews