The Music Man (1962)

Approved  |   |  Comedy, Musical, Romance  |  19 June 1962 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 12,633 users  
Reviews: 125 user | 30 critic

Harold Hill poses as a boys' band leader to con naive Iowa townsfolk.



(based on: "The Music Man"), (written in collaboration with), 1 more credit »
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Won 1 Oscar. Another 5 wins & 12 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
The Buffalo Bills ...
Town Council
Timmy Everett ...
Winthrop Paroo (as Ronny Howard)
Harry Hickox ...
Sara Seegar ...
Adnia Rice ...


Confidence man Harold Hill arrives at staid River City intending to cheat the community with his standard scam of offering to equip and train a boy's marching band, then skip town with the money since he has no music skill anyway. Things go awry when he falls for a librarian he tries to divert from exposing him while he inadvertently enriches the town with a love of music. Written by Kenneth Chisholm <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The story of that man and his 76 trombones, and the wonderful, wonderful tune he played on every heart in town!


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

19 June 1962 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Meredith Willson's The Music Man  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Just prior to the "Lida Rose" number, Harold mentions a bassoon player named Madame Rini. Rini was the nickname of Meredith Willson's wife Ralina Zarova. See more »


In the candy shop scene where Marian and Hill are sipping soda, Marian reaches into her purse twice. See more »


Mrs. Shinn: [answering doorbell the Prof Hill rang] Oh, George, it's you.
Mayor Shinn: [to Prof Hill] I never had a son!
Mrs. Shinn: [not seeing Prof Hill] I never said you did.
Mayor Shinn: What would you know?
Mrs. Shinn: Well, I'd certainly know if I gave you a son!
Mayor Shinn: I wasn't talking to you.
Mrs. Shinn: Well who were you talking to?
Mayor Shinn: I was talking to-
[realizes that Prof Hill is no longer there]
Mayor Shinn: Never mind!
See more »

Crazy Credits

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 »


Referenced in Mystery Science Theater 3000: Rocket Attack U.S.A. (1990) See more »


If You Don't Mind My Saying So
(1957) (uncredited)
Music and Lyrics by Meredith Willson
Performed by Shirley Jones and Pert Kelton in the "Piano Lesson" number
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

"Hill's the name, Professor Harold Hill--"
8 July 2001 | by (Salem, Oregon) – See all my reviews

It's early in the Twentieth Century, and there's trouble, my friends, in River City. Iowa, that is, in this delightful adaptation of Meredith Wilson's long running Broadway musical, `The Music Man,' directed by Morton DaCosta and starring Robert Preston as the fast-talking, fleet-footed traveling salesman, Harold Hill. `Professor Harold Hill,' as he calls himself this time around, is in the business of selling band instruments and uniforms, all with the guarantee that he will teach the youngsters of the parents who fork over the cash for his wares how to play. There's only one problem, and it's the fact that -- as one of his fellow competitors puts it-- `He don't know one note from another!' Alas, can it be the con is on?

When he jumps train in River City to escape the wrath of an angry gathering of his peers, whom he has `Given a black eye' to in the territory, thanks to his dubious business practices, he sets about plying his trade on the good folks of middle America. But right out of the chute, he runs into some problems: The Mayor of River City, George Shinn (Paul Ford) wants his credentials, the lovely young local piano teacher and librarian, Marion (Shirley Jones), has her doubts about him, and he lacks an `angle,' something to convince the local citizenry of the need for a `boys band' to get them out of the trouble they're in-- even if there isn't any until he `creates' it.

One of his problems is solved when he runs into Marcellus Washburn (Buddy Hackett), a former shill of his, who mentions the new billiard table that just arrived in town. And that's all the Professor needs; because now they've got trouble, `With a capital ‘T' that rhymes with ‘P' and that stands for ‘Pool'!' With that, he's up and running and he's got everything timed, right down to the `Last wave of the conductor's hand on the last train out of town.' Yee-gods and great honk! River City, Iowa, is about to have their very own boy's band.

Robert Preston gives the most memorable performance of his career as Hill, the silver-tongued salesman who can palaver past postulated proffered predicaments quicker'n an eggheaded egret's emblematized egression. It's just a matter of charm, style and timing, and Preston imbues Hill with ‘em all, and more. He brings a mesmerizing presence to the screen in this role that is absolutely perfect; Preston IS Harold Hill, and he makes him his own in such a way that it's impossible to visualize anyone else in the role. It certainly gave Preston a chance to demonstrate his amazing versatility, and he really made the most of it, carving out a niche for himself in cinematic history.

The beautiful and talented Shirley Jones is terrific, as well, as `Marion the Librarian,' the young woman with a heart of gold who becomes a formidable opponent for Hill as he tries to charm his way past her suspicions of him. Jones personifies everything that is pure, moral and good, without being prudish, and it makes Marion a truly endearing character. And, like Preston, her performance is so good it's impossible to picture anyone else in the part. She's simply magnificent.

The made-to-order supporting cast includes a very young Ron Howard, unforgettable as Winthrop Paroo, Marion's little brother, Hermione Gingold (Eulalie Mackechnie Shinn), Pert Kelton (Mrs. Paroo), Monique Vermont (Amaryllis), Susan Luckey (Zaneeta), Timmy Everett (Tommy Djilas), Harry Hickox (Charlie) and Mary Wickes (Mrs. Squires). Featuring a number of memorable songs, including `76 Trombones,' `Till There Was You,' `Gary, Indiana' and of course the catchy `Trouble In River City' number, `The Music Man' is an uplifting, totally transporting film that makes the world seem like a pretty good place after all. This is the `Good Old Days' the way we'd like to think they really were, and it's all courtesy of the magic of the movies. I rate this one 10/10.

62 of 67 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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