An ex-husband and wife team star in a musical version of 'The Taming of the Shrew'; off-stage, the production is troublesome with ex-lovers' quarrels and a gangster looking for some money owed to them.
Matchmaker Dolly Levi travels to Yonkers to find a partner for "half-a-millionaire" Horace Vandergelder, convincing his niece, his niece's intended, and his two clerks to travel to New York City along the way.
It's the early twentieth century American Midwest. A con man, currently going by the assumed name Harold Hill, has used several different schemes to bilk the unsuspecting, he now traveling from town to town pretending to be a professor of music - Gary (Indiana) Conservatory of Music, class of '05 - being able to solve all the respective towns' youth problems by forming a boys' marching band. He takes money from the townsfolk to buy instruments, music, instructional materials and uniforms for their sons. However, he, in reality, has no degree, knows nothing about music, and after all the materials arrive and are distributed, hightails it out to move to the next town with all the money never to be seen again. Many of the traveling salesmen in the territory have been negatively impacted by him, as the townsfolk then become suspicious of any stranger trying to sell them something. For Harold's scheme to work, he has to gain the trust of the local music teacher, he usually doing so by ... Written by
Although there are constant references to River City's low mentality rate and literary level, the public library appears as a buzzing activity hub in town, with patrons of all ages. See more »
Ladies and gentlemen, either you are closing your eyes to a situation you do not wish to acknowledge, or you are not aware of the caliber of disaster indicated by the presence of a pool table in your community!
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The closing credits appear in the style of a Broadway show's curtain call. First the minor characters are shown with the performers' names. The credits then progress through the cast ending with the lead. See more »
A Lively Fantasy With Spirit and Fun; Preston and Jones Are Wonderful
This was a very difficult musical, I suspect, for Morton da Costa to direct. To his great credit, it never looks to me like a stage musical; taking his cue from a few famous examples of adaptations done on non-musical films, he has used the entire River City, Iowa, USA town as his stage, moving his mobile cameras wherever the action could best be served. But I suggest "The Music Man" is most important not for its entertainment qualities, which are considerable perhaps, but for its importance as a fantasy-for-the-sake-of-an-idea plot. Without it, we might never have had "Finian's Rainbow", "Chicago" or "City of Angels" for instance. Hollywood's studio tsars, despite their surrealized applying of pseudo-Christian endings to plots, were always very cautious about introducing any "fantasy" element into a film. (Note the lengthy apologia by David Selznick for "Portrait of Jenny", for instance.) In this story, Meredith Wilson used his personal knowledge of the people and ways-of-thinking of Iowa to ground a charming and genial fantasy about music-course salesman Harold Hill firmly within its milieu--one of a group of U.S minds in need of more imagination. The town's kindly folk, in fact, are shown as barely tolerant toward its librarian, who inherited the institution from its elderly compiler; they are suspicious of how Marian Paroo acquired the stock, and suspicious of her desire to teach their young minds to think for themselves. Enter Professor Hill--to change the lives of the almost charming but repressed early twentieth-century denizens forever. The basic plot is very simple to state. Professor Hill comes to towns, sells the town's citizens on the idea of starting a boy's band, and then skips out before they can ever perform. Here, he is brought to the point of leading his troops, trained by his "think system", in a concert; and the townsfolk are enthralled by hearing their sons play. This simple tale starred Robert Preston as the wily city-bred Hill, Shirley
Jones as the lovely but doubting 'Marian the Librarian', Pert Kelton as her mother, Buddy Hackett as his fine friend, Paul Ford and Hermione Gingold as the pretentious Mayor and his wife, plus many citizens of the town young and old, Harry Hickox as the envious rival who exposes Hill and the Buffalo Bills singing quartet. Well-known songs in this sprightly US romp include, "Till There Was You", "Somethin' Special", "Goodnight My Someone", "Marian the Librarian" and "Trouble", among others. In the film, the leads are award caliber, everyone else from Ronnie Howard to Susan Luckey to the quartet do very well. Marion Hargrove adapted Wilson's libretto and songs written by Wilson and Franklin Lacey. The cinematography by Robert Burks was vivid and stylishly old-fashioned. Paul Groesse did the art direction, with set decorations being supplied by George James Hopkins and his staff. The very elaborate costumes were the work of the brilliant designer Dorothy Jeakins. This is a sense of life film written by, about and for non-practicing Christians of the last century that was mounted somehow in 1962, as an homage to a simpler and more optimistic time. We can all be grateful it was; it is a great deal of fun and its ending is a happy part of the fantasy, which needs to be seen to be appreciated.
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