Browse all reviews by letter     A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0 - 9

USA 1962
Directed by
Morton Da Costa
151 minutes
Rated G

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

The Music Man

Very much in the Rogers and Hammerstein tradition, this version of Meredith Willson's successful 1957 stage musical, also directed by Da Costa, of the same name is typical of the era - a big budget, picture-perfect costume piece that celebrates Golden Age Small Town America.Robert Preston, reprising his stage role, plays a flim-flam man who just before WWI, rolls into River City, Iowa with a plan to fleece the locals by selling them the idea of forming a brass band for the town. In so doing he falls for the local librarian (Shirley Jones) and, of course, finds true love.

Whilst solidly entertaining with often amusing, well-crafted songs that come thick and fast (of which only "Till There Was You" and "76 Trombones" have had an independent life) and an energetic performance from the well-practised Preston, the film is largely derivative. Da Costa, no doubt struggling with the constraints of Warner's wide-screen Technirama with its limited opportunity for camera movement (there is an odd suggestion of a Busby Berkley "top" shot during the Buddy Hackett number "Shipoopi" that comes to naught) whilst solidly representing the stage experience makes limited use of the cinematic possibilities and the film comes across very much as packaged entertainment well-done but no more.

FYI: Future Oscar-winning director, Ron Howard (then Ronny), plays Marian's young brother, Winthrop.  Meredith Willson made more money from The Beatles' version of his song "Till There Was You" than he did off the play and the movie combined. 




Want something different?

random vintage best worst