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The Music Man (1962)

Approved | | Comedy, Musical, Romance | 19 June 1962 (USA)
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Harold Hill poses as a boys' band leader to con naive Iowa townsfolk.

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(based on: "The Music Man"), (written in collaboration with) | 1 more credit »
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674 ( 4,997)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 5 wins & 12 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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

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 Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

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


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

19 June 1962 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Meredith Willson's The Music Man  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

When Eulalie Mackechnie Shinn (Hermione Gingold) is performing in the "spectacle" with her schoolchildren, she says "Now count to twenty in the Indian tongue..." and proceeds to count in what seem to be nonsense words ("Een! Teen! Tether mether fip!..."). It's actually a variant of traditional British sheep-counting. See more »

Goofs

Twice when Harold Hill first arrives in River City, mountains are seen in the background. There are no mountains like that in Iowa just across from Illinois where River City is supposed to be. See more »

Quotes

Harold Hill: Mothers of River City, heed that warning before it's too late! Watch for the telltale signs of corruption! The minute your son leaves the house, does he rebuckle his knickerbockers below the knee? Is there a nicotine stain on his index finger? A dime-novel hidden in the corncrib? Is he starting to memorize jokes from Captain Billy's Whiz-Bang? Are certain words creeping into his conversation? Words like "swell" and "so's your old man"? If so my friends, ya got trouble!
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 »

Connections

Referenced in Friends: The One with the Holiday Armadillo (2000) See more »

Soundtracks

Sincere
(1957) (uncredited)
Music and Lyrics by Meredith Willson
Performed by The Buffalo Bills
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
A Lively Fantasy With Spirit and Fun; Preston and Jones Are Wonderful
3 September 2005 | by See all my reviews

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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