This musical version of Don Quixote is framed by an incident allegedly from the life of its author, Miguel de Cervantes. Don Quixote is the mad, aging nobleman who embarrasses his ... See full summary »
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Max von Sydow
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This musical version of Don Quixote is framed by an incident allegedly from the life of its author, Miguel de Cervantes. Don Quixote is the mad, aging nobleman who embarrasses his respectable family by his adventures. Backed by his faithful sidekick Sancho Panza, he duels windmills and defends his perfect lady Dulcinea (who is actually a downtrodden whore named Aldonza). Written by
While Peter O'Toole was generally slated for his "singing" performance in the film, what many critics chose to overlook was the fact that this was not O'Toole's first musical. Indeed, his appearance in Herbert Ross' musical remake of Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1969) netted the actor his fourth Best Actor Academy Award nomination. See more »
Both the film and stage performances of the play it's based, on depict the elderly Miguel de Cervantes y Saavedra as able to use both hands. The real Cervantes had a paralyzed left hand from his wound in the Battle of Lepanto (1571) when he was a 20-something. See more »
[singing, to Don Quixote]
If you feel that you see me, not quite at my virginal best, / cross my palm with a coin, and I'll willingly show you the rest.
Never deny that thou art Dulcinea.
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Practically all of the actors in the film, with the exception of those who play the Captain of the Guard and the soldiers of the Spanish Inquisition respectively, play dual or triple roles, but only five of them are actually listed in the credits as having done so. All of the other actors are listed as if they only played one role in the film. See more »
Bringing big Broadway musicals to the screen has always posed tremendous problems for film makers. The results have by and large been unsatisfactory, with few exceptions. The late 60's brought us "Camelot", (67),"Hello Dolly" (69) and "Fiddler on the Roof" (71), all films adhering to the unquestioned rule that bigger is better, be it casts, sets and orchestrations. All three were overblown bores. Arthur Hiller's concept for "Man of La Mancha" is clearly the antithesis of what had become expected of the musical on film. He decided to use the film media not as a device for augmentation in a broad sense, but rather to focus in on the characters and bring them as close to the audience as possible using naturally many close-ups. They are the crux of the film; not massive sets, huge choruses or dazzling choreography. "Man of la Mancha" boasts two fine songs; the rest are pretty mediocre, which justifies Hiller's keeping the music as a device to serve the characters and not the other way around. From the very start with the credits appearing, the audience is geared up for one of those massively orchestrated rousing overtures. Yet, what we are offered is an underscored, almost chamber music style overture setting the tone for the entire film. The message as with chamber music is clear; the focus is on the content, not the trappings.
The critics by and large hated the film. Maltin in particular is uncharacteristically savage in his criticism. They simply were not prepared to accept an unorthodox approach to a huge Broadway success. While "Dolly", "Camelot" and "Fiddler" tend to be almost impossible viewing today, "Man of La Mancha" remains astonishingly fresh, very much vindicating Hiller's concept of this much maligned and misunderstood movie.
Being so focused on character, the films success would lie with its principal players. O'Toole gives a bravura performance, one of his finest, while Loren too, is perfect in her role. Sure the soundtrack is not one to listen to in the way one would a Broadway musical. But both O'Toole's and Loren's shaky vocals are in perfect sync with the fragility of their characters and hence very human and very moving. If more Broadway musicals had been brought to the screen with such a clear concept as was "La Mancha", the movie musical may have enjoyed far greater success.
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