The Music Man (1962)

The Music Man
Directed by Morton Da Costa
Written by Marion Hargrove and Franklin Lacey based on the musical comedy by Meredith Wilson
1962/USA
Warner Bros.
Repeat viewing/Netflix rental

Harold Hill: I always think there’s a band, kid.

Revisiting this long-time favorite was a joy from the first minute to the last.

Traveling salesman “Professor” Harold Hill (Robert Preston) has left ahead of the tar-and-feather brigade so often that he become the bane of others in the profession.  His gimmick is selling the items to outfit a boys’ band – instruments and uniforms – on the basis that he will teach the kids how to play.  Hill cannot read a note of music and relies on something called the “think system” until the uniforms arrive and he can quickly skip town.

Both the mayor (Paul Ford) of his latest target – River City, Iowa – and the local piano teacher and librarian Marian Paroo (Shirley Jones) are skeptical.  Hill successfully dodges their efforts to make him present his credentials.

Hill is quite a gifted salesman and brings River City excitement that it has never known.  He gets more than he bargained for from his attempts to sweet talk the frosty Marian.  With Hermoine Guingold as the mayor’s wife, Buddy Hackett as Hill’s buddy, Pert Kelton as Marian’s mother and Ronny Howard as her little brother.

I had seen the movie several times before I was in the play in junior college.  The soundtrack was also in frequent rotation at home.  The musical was a huge hit on Broadway and the filmmakers didn’t mess with success, resulting in a certain staginess. Whatever – it makes me completely happy.  Most of the players expertly repeat their Broadway roles.  Preston is amazing.  Warmly recommended to musical lovers.

The Music Man won the Oscar for Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture.  It was nominated for Best Picture; Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Color; Best Costume Design, Color; Best Film Editing; and Best Sound.

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I am going to Las Vegas for a wedding.  Will return August 4.

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4 thoughts on “The Music Man (1962)

  1. It’s been a long time since I saw the whole thing. I was a kid, so … before 1980? But I remember thinking it was pretty good and I wasn’t mad at my parents for making us watch it.

    I watched bits of it a few years ago and the main thing I remember is thinking “Man. Shirley Jones really had it going on in 1962!”

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