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USA 1971
Directed by
Mel Stuart
98 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory

Charlie Bucket (Peter Ostrum) lives near the site of the mysterious chocolate factory owned by Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder). He lives in Dickensian poverty with his mother and four grandparents who never get out of bed. In the best fairy tale manner Charlie wins one of five golden tickets that will allow him into the factory in what turns out to be Willy Wonka’s bent succession plan.

Partly due to the deliciously blackly comic spirit of Roald Dahl's original story, partly due to Mel Stuart’s endearingly gimcrack adaptation of it, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is a deserved favourite amongst audiences of all ages. It is however Gene Wilder as Wonka, at once a wicked witch and a good fairy, who gives the quite sadistic story its true lift. 

With the exception of "The Candy Man" the songs by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse are far from memorable and are all performed by people of no apparent vocal skill but this together with the low-fi art direction and set design all add to the charm. And compared to Tim Burton’s meretricious but flaccid 2005 remake, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, it wins hands down.

FYI: Dahl, who was hired to write the script which was eventually re-written, disowned the film.




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