I'm guessing I saw this 1977 TV movie one time when it was first aired on CBS. Which puts me at age 6 or so. "Once Upon a Brothers Grimm" made a huge impression on me, though I didn't see it again for another 25 years. What stuck most in my memory was the very strong premise: the famous Grimm brothers are on a long journey when their carriage halts outside an enchanted wood, through which their driver refuses to travel at night. They carry on without the driver, become separated in the woods, and stumble through a number of famous fairy tales. (Remember that this came a full decade before Stephen Sondheim's "Into the Woods.") And the sequence that stayed most vivid in my memory over the years involved the 12 dancing princesses and the swan princes. It was certainly one of the sparks that gave me a lifelong interest in fairy tales.
Looking at it now, 30+ years since it was made, the film carries a lot of late 70's baggage. It has a number of those peculiar stars of the era recognizable--to kids who grew up then--by their appearances on the Muppet Show or their voice work in the Smurfs. And, yes, there's a faint haze of Hollywood Squares about the production. However, look past that, and there is something worth preserving. As the leads, Dean Jones and Paul Sand are a great duo. Jones, as always, sells his scenes 100 percent, and Sand matches that with true gusto. Probably the most noteworthy appearance of a supporting actor is that of Teri Garr, as a princess seeking a princely frog. To contemporary eyes, the film goes a bit off the rails a few times, but never more so than during Chita Rivera's surreal solo. But, in fact, most of the musical and dance numbers are surprisingly well conceived and executed. For kids 8 years old and under--assuming they haven't been ruined by the production standards of modern TV and film--this should remain a unique treat.
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